In This Corner of the World
Writer & Director - Sunao Katabuchi
Japanese with English Subtitles - 129 minutes
Set in the Hiroshima and Kure during World War II, an 18-old girl, Suzu, gets married to a young Navy officer and has to support her new family as they begin to feel the bite of rationing and dwindling supplies. Suzu must endure repeated bombings from Allied Forces as August 6th, 1945 looms, the day nuclear weapons were used on Japan.
This beautiful animation focuses on the day to day life as Suzu and her extended family try to continue their daily tasks, keep food on the table and letting an arranged marriage blossom. Suzu and her family live in the naval town of Kure, which becomes a target for repeated and savage bombings, there's no escape from the wider world in this idyllic village. However, the unshakable dread as the calendar gets closer to doomsday pulses throughout the movie, even during scenes of carefree abandon the sense of fear grips even tighter.
The Japanse believe their Navy makes them invisible and the tales of their strength and power are commonplace among the children of the town. Suzu, however, is focused on putting food on the table with very little resources, drawing and becoming a more commanding figure within the household as the men both young and old are shipped off to war.
The focus on the female side of the families left behind during the war allows the women to grow beyond just the traditions expected of their sex in Japanese society and highlight their forbearance. Suzu's upbeat, sensitive and inclusive attitude to life is challenged by the relentless raids and the Japanese's no surrender approach to the war. We are hoping throughout the movie that Suzu will escape or survive the coming storm, in this current climate where we see images of dead children in Syria, we often want to escape to the cinema to escape the horror of our world and Suzu embodies those powerful hopes and fears.
The animation is stunning with many of the horrors of war are filtered through watercolour and abstract imagery which makes it stand out for the countless WW2 epics. "I wish I had some paint," Suzu remarks during a bombing raid, there truly is beauty in war to be found here.
In This Corner of the World will not disappoint the thousands of crowfunders who funded the movie for an incredible ¥ 39million and it sets a high bar for the rest of the Edinburgh film festival.
In the Corner of the World gets it's UK premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival this Thursday.
Lee Hutchison @lee_nostromo