A few weeks ago, I watched a video by YouTuber “Gigguk,” who releases pretty regular videos that touch on anything and everything anime. While his more popular videos are generally about rundowns of the current season of anime, he released another video entitled “The Anime that Inspired Me.” He went on and on about this new anime from the spring season called “A Place Further than the Universe.” He spoke endless praises about it and while I wanted to sit down and watch it I was worried these expectations would ruin the show for me. However, on May 26 when I sat down and ran through all 13 episodes of the show, all the feelings Gigguk spoke about became my reality.
“A Place Further than the Universe,” hereby referred to as “Sora Yori,” is about an outstanding trip made by Mari Tamaki, Shirase Kobuchizawa, Hinata Miyake and Yuzuki Shiraishi to the vast continent of Antarctica for reasons all their own.
While the thought of such an interesting plot might sound weird at first, “Sora Yori” plays it out perfectly. It’s a plot that is close enough to fantasy to take me to another world while grounded enough to seem real, and the realism is the strongest point of the show. Calling characters “real” is a super generic way of praising a show, but it’s portrayed in such a way here that has me rooting for them the entire way. Yuzuki is scared of heights, Shirase is ridiculously camera-shy, Kimari tends to be reliant on other people to know what to do and Hinata had to learn how to be independent the hard way. And they all got seasick on the boat. They all abolish this need to be picture-perfect anime characters and instead have perfectly normal strengths and weaknesses that set them apart from the usual fantasies I look to indulge in in anime.
One of the big strengths of “Sora Yori” is the way the music works. There are only a few insert songs but they’re composed beautifully and used at all the right moments to really drive home the emotions. The songs on their own retain emotion purely based off of the pictures I now associate them with. The opening for the show, “The Girls Are Alright!” has an adorable animation that pulled me right out of whatever mood I was in and put me right in the feelings of the show. At one point that day I was angry at my internet for failing me but I could turn on this show and the opening would pull me back in. Combined with the ending song that carried the emotions through the end, the music itself was a gorgeous experience. The ending song, “Koko kara, Koko kara,” was even sung by the four girls themselves which definitely added to how real the characters seemed.
The true benefit to watching this show, though, has to be the story it tells. It tells a story of adventure and a girl conquering her dream of making the most of her youth, another girl finding out about her mom through people she knew, a third making her first real friends, and a fourth finally understanding what it meant to belong. No matter where anybody is in life, they can pull something out of this. For me personally, I felt like I wasn’t doing anything with my youth either. I’m planning a trip to Los Angeles this summer and it’s the closest thing I’ve done to an adventure, and that’s what I’ll make it. It’s going to be full of experiences and what this show taught me is that I’ll need to treasure each and every experience I make. This is quite easily the single best show I can recall watching and I’m sure I will spend the remainder of my days looking for something to make me feel as good as this did.