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Sora yori mo Tooi Basho Anime Cover

Score: 8.60/10

Synopsis

Filled with an overwhelming sense of wonder for the world around her, Mari Tamaki has always dreamt of what lies beyond the reaches of the universe. However, despite harboring such large aspirations on the inside, her fear of the unknown and anxiety over her own possible limitations have always held her back from chasing them. But now, in her second year of high school, Mari is more determined than ever to not let any more of her youth go to waste. Still, her fear continues to prevent her from taking that ambitious step forward—that is, until she has a chance encounter with a girl who has grand dreams of her own. Spurred by her mother's disappearance, Shirase Kobuchizawa has been working hard to fund her trip to Antarctica. Despite facing doubt and ridicule from virtually everyone, Shirase is determined to embark on this expedition to search for her mother in a place further than the universe itself. Inspired by Shirase's resolve, Mari jumps at the chance to join her. Soon, their efforts attract the attention of the bubbly Hinata Miyake, who is eager to stand out, and Yuzuki Shiraishi, a polite girl from a high class background. Together, they set sail toward the frozen south. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho follows the captivating journey of four spirited girls, all in search of something great. [Written by MAL Rewrite]

Often called the springtime of one’s life, one’s days of adolescence are a time of many firsts: the first time you skip class without your parents knowing, the first time you go on a journey with no destination and maybe even your first love. It is during these days that the innocent and inexperienced bundles of insecurities that are teenagers finally break out of their shells and the small buds turn into full-fledged adults.

Or at least they should.

Unfortunately, such is not the case for the gung-ho goofball Mari: when she finds an old notebook filled with scribbles of her past self’s wishes for her high school days, she can’t help but cry. She wanted to gain the most out of youth and have fun every day, but she did none of these things. Instead, she secluded herself in a shell and was satisfied with an uneventful everyday life; she recognizes that she’s been scared this whole time, and she decides to make a change.

Shortly after the fact, she makes acquaintance with Shirase, a girl seemingly obsessed with Antarctica. She is the polar opposite to Mari: hardworking, confident and passionate, but at the same time shy and seclusive. Working dozens of part-time jobs day in day out, she is trying to save money to fulfill her wish and follow in her late mother’s footsteps—to travel to Antarctica.

Both envying and admiring Shirase’s strength to follow her dreams even when faced with constant mockery by her classmates, Mari decides to join up with her, and thus their journey to Antarctica begins… with a rejection by the expedition group. However, the both of them aren’t giving up just yet: they try to persuade the expedition leaders time and time again, encountering Hinata, the social but secretive high school dropout, and Shiraishi, the sheltered, expedition trip-engaged quasi-idol who invites the protagonists as her first friends along the way.

Aboard the ship, their collective antics take center stage; whether as a variety of fun facial expressions, their rock–paper–scissors shtick or massacring each other with water guns in the bathtub (which, of course, my mother walked in on), they all manage to put a smile on one’s face. However, the journey isn’t all fun and games: food needs to be prepared and their bodies strengthened.

Their way is filled with many adversities: an exhilarating chase around the block, skipping school to traverse nearly the whole country by train and losing their tickets for the plane. Everyone ridiculed and tormented their dream, but they never gave up. The moment they enter Antarctica is nothing short of magical. After enduring many daunting hardships, they release their pent-up frustration and resentment for their tormentors—because they did it.

That isn’t to say they were harmonious at all times. All of these girls are at a tender age during which one might not always make sense. They engage in conflict over silly things; they sob just as much as they snicker, but that’s completely fine. Adolescence marks a time during which one undergoes major changes and grows as a person; one is allowed to act irrational, to act out and to cry. They are allowed to hold larger-than-life speeches and hide things that should rather not be hidden—and they do. These characters fail on a constant basis, but all their falling-outs and mistakes help them grow as people and form even deeper bonds of genuine friendship. It is during these moments that their weaknesses and wounds take center stage: their held-back feelings are finally allowed to pour out in brilliant displays of audiovisual character-acting culminating in scenes that are utterly heartrending.

SoraYori is about adventure, the fun and hardships of youth, and the inexperienced growing and overcoming the hurdles life might hold. By successfully interweaving the dreams and ambitions of adolescence, it builds an exhilarating and touching experience reminiscent of one’s youthful years.

Winter 18 anime season was honestly a pretty underwhelming season overall because unlike the Fall 17 anime season didn’t feature a lot of good shows that are not 2nd seasons or leftovers from the Fall 17 season. The problem that I have with this season that many of the shows are nothing more style over substance meme feasts. A1+ Trigger mecha show Darling in the Franxx is the worst example of this because not only in my opinion bad at storytelling it also allowed the memes and reference to older shows to take over the actual story to a point where you're literally only watching it for the memes instead of a story and characters. However out of all the anime from the Winter 18 season, A Place Further than the Universe quietly became a big hit and unlike any other new show from this season, it was actually good. So good to a point where every other anime from winter 18 that is not a squeal or a leftover look mediocre by comparison. Okay, there was Yuru Camp (Which I haven't seen yet) and cleverly cute Skilled Teaser Takagi San which are great shows on their own right but they pale in comparison to this. Anyway, what made this show so special? How did this show become so great that it outclassed ever other anime from the season? Let's find out. The story of A Place Further than the Universe follows a high school student name Mari Tamaki who want to make the most of her youth, but she is afraid to do it. One day she encounters a girl named Shirase Kobuchizawa who has been saving up, so she can travel to Antarctica to find her missing mother. Together with two other girls Hinata and Yuzuki, they join an expedition headed towards the Antarctic. On the surface, A Place Further than the Universe looks like your typical cute girl doing cute things type of show but as the show progresses the show becomes so much more to a point where it deviated from the whole cute girls doing cute things route where it becomes more complex. Add to the fact the pacing the show was brilliant throughout its own as well having great writing, worldbuilding and great themes exploration and got one hell of an amazing series. One thing that I love about the show is how adventurous it is. Seriously every time you watch an episode of this show you always feel like your actually going on an adventure with the four main girls. The characters in A Place Further than the Universe were fantastic. The main girls are very well written as well as having complex backstories that were believable and well told to the viewer. The character interactions for the four main girls were outstanding as each girl delivers great and charming interactions with each other plus the way the four main girls react to comedic and emotional moments were outstanding to a point where they actually felt like real high school girls. I honestly have nothing more to say about the characters here since they are all awesome and well written in their own ways. Honestly, do I really need to say it? It’s freaking Madhouse, and they are known for making anime with amazing production and this show is no different. The character designs were well drawn as being very adorable to look at on-screen. The one thing that I adore about the anime is the visual directing, in fact. The visual directing is good it overwhelms the great writing of the story that is honestly very impressive. For example in the first couple of minutes of episode 1, the show establishes the main character Mari who is an adventurous girl even though she never went for an adventure herself in her whole life however as she finally decided to take the first step towards her adventure of we get some use existent swelling music, however, the train leaves the station and we see Mari standing there. If this was a regular anime, the music would have ended here, however, the music kept playing which was the more emotionally effective choice. It doesn’t stop there in the couple of scenes we see Mari still being adventurous even though she can’t act it out. The next shot showcases Mari shoes being wet and that shot alone perfectly symbolize the real world the reality of leaving the school and going on this adventure was being actually more complex then she thought at first. There are more great symbolism and visuals in this but this was one of the best examples of this show amazing visual directing. Overall visuals in A Place Further than the Universe are a masterpiece of art thanks to great directing and stunning visuals. The soundtrack is honestly beautiful. It is filled with life, adventure as well-being very emotional. Yoshiaki Fujisawa did a great job with the soundtrack adding more emotional impact to the series. The opening theme Alright by Saya is a great opening theme that captures the adventurous tone of the series. It's also very catchy. The ending theme Koko kara, Koko kara sung by the voice actors for the 4 main girls is an awesome ending theme that I adore to no end. Even more than the opening theme. As off now A Place Further than the Universe hasn’t got an English which is honestly sad because I really wanted Funimation to do a simuldub with this hidden gem but no we cannot always have nice things because Funimation rather simuldub a broken show like Hakyu Hoshin Engi. Oh well least with got the Japanese audio which was amazing as every Seiyuu did a great job with the roles especially with the four main girls. What an amazing emotional and fun ride this was. This show was honestly a blessing to the winter 18 anime season from mediocrity hell. The story was amazing filled with great writing, world-building, themes, and pacing. The characters were wonderful and developed, the visuals were brilliant, and the soundtrack and voice acting were great. I honestly never expected this show to dominate the whole winter 18 season and am glad it did because the show is a perfect example of how to make a good modern anime. I hope this show gets an English dub someday as well getting licensed by an anime distribution company so we can get a Blu-Ray release for this hidden gem show. If you want to watch a great slice of life/adventure show then I strongly recommend checking out A Place Further than the Universe. You won't regret it.

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