A Place Further Than the Universe

A Place Further Than the Universe

img_5627.jpgScenery that we have never seen. Sounds that we have never heard. Scent that we have never smelled. Food that we have never tasted. And the surge of emotion that we have never experienced. This is the expedition of recollecting the pieces torn apart and sensation left alone. When we reach that place, what will we think? Howling, 40 degree angle. Raging, 50 degree angle. Shouting, 60 degree angle. A wilderness beyond the heavy sea. The furthest south, far from civilisation. At the top of the Earth. We will find lights through the girls’ eyes to live tomorrow.

img_5639.jpgWatching the firs episode of A Place Further Than the Universe, I was intrigued. Is this show actually about four high school girls that want to go on a trip to Antarctica? The story begins fairly well with making the idea of it all rather grand and inspirational. Mari Tamaki (aka Kimari), now that she’s in high school, wants to go on a great adventure but has never actually made the step. In her second year she meets Shirase, a fellow student who is determined to go to Antarctica, no matter what the cost. There is something about Shirase’s determination to achieve her goal that moves Kimari and she finds her own inertia being lifted. She vows to go to Antarctica with Shirase, despite the other girl’s initial doubts about her commitment, and the two of them start making their plans.

img_5633.jpgI’ll start by saying that these plans are not well thought-out – these are two high school girls wanting to go to Antarctica. Kimari nearly ends up applying for a job with a dodgy escort service in order to secure funds and Shirase’s plan to get them on a ship involves mildly seducing a male expedition member to smuggle them on board. But despite their clueless strategies, Shirase knows a lot about Antarctica and is even willing to give her life savings as funding to the civilian expedition in order to guarantee her passage. Then easy-going Hinata makes their duo a trio after deciding she wants to go on an adventure before knuckling down and studying for college exams. Then they encounter online streamer Yuzuki, who doesn’t really want to go to Antarctica and is more cool and collected than her online personality.

img_5640.jpgThe artwork for A Place Further Than the Universe is interesting. In the grand scheme of things, this could be a rather realistic story, and the backgrounds and scenery really reflect this with elements of photo realism to reflect small towns in the Japanese countryside – which I’m quite partial to. I’m looking forward to later episodes where I imagine we will see some great views of Antarctica itself. On the other hand, we have the way in which the characters are drawn, which is a little more cartoon-y and simplistic – blocky shine on hair and simple shading on clothing make them look more basic than realistic. The way they are drawn isn’t necessarily bad, but it does sometimes look a bit odd given the exquisite details of the places behind them, it is a little jarring sometimes! Although, this does begin to get better the further you go into the series.

img_5641.jpgOur main group of personalities play off of each other well. Hinata is amusing and straight-talking and Shirase acts haughty and strong-willed, but is actually rather shy an relies on the others to execute the desperate plans she makes. As a main character, Kimari is typically genki and naive and is the one in the group that all the others are drawn to – which ticks all the boxes. Despite this, her character isn’t two-dimensional or predictable, which is a relief. As the story progresses we see our four young adventurers bond and become friends rather than four people brought together by one shared objective. It’s a gradual and realistic progression and as a result the important parts of some scenes and the overall story have a real impact.

img_5629.jpgA Place Further Than the Universe isn’t about four girls going on a trip – it’s not just cute girls doing cute things – it’s about constantly evolving characters going on a journey together, literally and figuratively. There are some genuinely funny moments, some heartbreaking one and a few scenes I just sat back and thought “wow”. Watching their gradual progress was like travelling along with them amidst all their trials, tribulations and achievements.