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Blu-ray Review: In This Corner of the World

November 14, 2017

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Taking place in Japan during World War II, In This Corner of the World follows Suzu (Laura Post), a young woman who leaves her childhood home in Hiroshima to get married, and moves to the nearby city of Kure to live with her husband Shusaku (Todd Haberkorn) and his family.

The film’s ambitious narrative spans from 1933 to 1946, following Suzu from childhood to adulthood and taking place before, during and directly after World War II, as the country comes under siege and then has to begin their long healing process.  The film’s depiction of this part of history is all the more powerful because of how quiet and gentle the story often is, focusing on the little moments in the day to day lives of people living through the war.

The film is about life during wartime in the most literal sense, showing the struggles to get by on limited money and increasingly scarce food supplies, as Suzo is forced to figure out ways to make a bit of rice and a few sardines feed the whole family for several days until their next rations come.  But the threat of violence is also never far behind, as they remain helpless to the threat of air raids and bombs being dropped from overhead.  It’s this juxtaposition between the mundanity of everyday life, and the heartbreaking loss that lurks around the edges, that makes In This Corner of the World an emotionally resonant work.

The beautifully drawn traditional animation has a painterly quality to it that gives a softness to the film, with the lush greens of the Japanese countryside providing a striking backdrop for the film.  Made under the direction of acclaimed anime filmmaker Sunao Katabuchi, In This Corner of the World is a touching and historically relevant dramatic portrait of Japan during World War II, focusing on the people who had to make due living through it and had their lives forever changed.  It’s also among the 26 films on the list of Oscar-qualifying titles for Best Animated Feature.

The Blu-ray also includes interviews with director Sunao Katabuchi and producer Masao Maruyama, the featurettes Hiroshima & Kure: Then & Now and U.S. Tour Highlights, as well as theatrical trailers and TV spots for the film.  The package also comes with a special preview chapter from Fumiyo Kouno’s manga of the same name, which inspired the film.

In This Corner of the World is a Shout! Factory release.  It’s 129 minutes and rated PG.

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