Review of A Place Further Than the Universe (2018)

Moving picture, 5.0 hours

Seen in 2018.

When Shirase was 14, her mother died on a Japanese Antarctic expedition, lost in a blizzard one night. The body was never found. At 17, Shirase is determined to join the summer portion of the next expedition through a science communication program. Her fellow students call her obsessed, but one of them is inspired by her sense of direction.

Excellent craftsmanship by Madhouse in an original production. The show is remarkably well researched and everything except the tropy group of main characters is basically realistic, though the actual scientific work done in the Antarctic gets minimal screen time. As expected, there is absolutely no mention of the fact that Japan’s involvement in Antarctic research was intended to exploit a loophole in International Whaling Commission (IWC) rules.

For many years, ostensibly scientific expeditions killed hundreds of whales annually and the meat ended up for sale in Japan. Australia sued Japan over this and won. In 2014, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan’s Antarctic whaling did not fall within the provision of the IWC permit because its purpose was not scientific. In 2018, the year of this production, Japan pulled out of the IWC to restart commercial whaling by July 2019. While this is a foul thing for Japan to do, it does mean that Japan is legally limited to its own waters. As of December 2018, the Japanese government indicated it was not going to keep killing whales in the Antarctic, making this production less hypocritical than it would have been a year earlier.

The main characters are genre archetypes, done about as well as K-On (2009). In an interesting touch, episode 10 has them working outside in the desert, hair and faces covered so completely that they are not immediately identifiable, but their coveralls are conveniently colour-coded.

moving picture Japanese production animation fiction series