By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
A lot of research went into producing In This Corner of the World (この世界の片隅に). This anime is now out on home video, released by Shout! Factory on Nov 14th, and the bonus material reveals why this film deserves high marks for not only its story but also in historical accuracy. Not many productions go into exquisite detail and I was amazed.
For comparison, this release also offers a 12-page insert of the manga by Fumiyo Kōno it was based on. The three-volume set is available for purchase and it goes into greater detail for specific set pieces. I have reviewed this film when it made its rounds at theatres (it can be found here) and to watch the featurettes certainly made me appreciate this product more.
I have to agree with the points answered in the interview with Sunao Katabuchi about how this movie redefines what anime can do. Masao Maruyama says this product he helped produce is a very cultural. Although this genre has never been limiting in what tales can be explored — anyone who has watched enough product over the decades can find gems — my choice in what I love to see has been more with historical or biographical works than the usual fantastical material.
In a tale about Suzu facing many everyday challenges while living in Kure, Japan as World War II is raging, the woman she becomes is heartwarming. She is a role model and a picture of a past not many youths of Japan from today will recall.
The production team made sure the dialects are correct and the world this protagonist lived in is 100% accurate. This detail includes the type of clothes the people were wearing, using weather reports from decades ago to suggest these events really did happen on that day, recognizing where battleships were deployed or what the populace were doing in case of invasion. I particularly liked the third short which showed what Kure looks like now compared to back then. The juxtapositions between the animated form and real life can help those fans visit those places featured in a product much like how folks can visit spots in Astoria, Oregon where The Goonies was filmed.
My advice is to look at this movie first and energy permitting, watch the featurettes second because there are spoilers. Even if those are watched another night, the perspective in what this tale represents certainly shifted for me. If I am allowed to score a work higher after learning about how the movie was made, then I’d have to say it is deserving of a perfect score.