Manga / In This Corner of the World

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In This Corner of the World (この世界の片隅に Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni) is a World War II drama manga written by Fumiyo Kouno, running from 2007 to 2009 in Weekly Manga Action. It later received a 2011 Live-Action Adaptation and was made into an anime film in 2016, helmed by Sunao Katabuchi and produced by MAPPA. The 2016 film is famous for having been crowdfunded and beating Your Name at the Japan Academy to get Best Animation of the Year. In America, Funimation and Shout! Factory have made an unique deal to become co-distributors of the film.

Suzu Urano lives in the small Japanese town of Eba near Hiroshima, working for a family business that cultivates seaweed and pursuing her love of drawing in her spare time. One day in 1944, when she's 18, Shuusaku Houjou, a young man from the port city of Kure, comes seeking her hand in marriage. She accepts his proposal and moves to Kure to live with him and his family, where she quickly learns to adapt. As World War II continues to turn against Japan, however, food rationing and air raids begin, and tragedy strikes. All the while, the clock continues to tick down towards the atomic bombing of Hiroshima...

This manga contains examples of the following:

  • Adult Fear: Keiko goes through a big one later in the story; she entrusts her daughter Harumi in Suzu's care while she waits in line for train tickets, but Harumi's begging Suzu to go down to the water to see the ships after an air raid leads to her being killed by a time-delayed bomb.
  • All Just a Dream: Partway through, there is a sequence in which Suzu and Harumi are caught out in the open by an air raid and Mr Houjou uses his body to shield them, only to die of shrapnel wounds. This is shown immediately afterwards to have been a nightmare.
  • Ambiguous Situation: When Tetsu shows up again midway through the story on shore leave, he asks to spend the night at the Houjous' and Shuusaku allows Suzu to be with him unchaperoned. Tetsu kisses her and the camera cuts away, jumping to the next day afterward, but whether anything else came of that is never revealed.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Suzu loses her right forearm to the bomb that also kills Harumi. What makes this even worse is that the hand she lost was her drawing hand.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted; as mentioned above, Suzu loses her right forearm and at one point we see the corpse of a woman who is all bloody and impaled by many glass shards.
  • Beauty Mark: Suzu has one on her left side of her face. It's how Shusaku is able to remember her after they met when they were children.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the end, Harumi is dead and Suzu has lost her drawing hand to a time-delayed bomb, and the war has killed most of Suzu's immediate family (her father died from radiation poisoning, her mother has gone missing and her brother was killed in action), while her sister is sick from radiation poisoning and it's likely that she could die from it as well. But Suzu still has Shusaku and the Houjou family with her, she adopts an orphaned girl from Hiroshima, and she is still determined to make the best of her life despite the hardships she's faced.
  • Brick Joke: One sequence has Suzu and Harumi trying to keep ants from getting into the sugar by putting it in a bowl floating in the water barrel, only for the bowl to sink and cause the sugar to dissolve into the water. Later on, Keiko takes a drink of water while telling Suzu about ice cream and proclaims that water tastes sweeter even when you're just thinking about it, not realizing that the water really does have sugar in it.
  • Cheerful Child: Keiko's daughter (and Shusaku and Suzu's niece) Harumi, whom Suzu quickly becomes friends with. It's all the more tragic when Harumi is killed by a bomb.
  • Death from Above: USAAF B-29s and USN F6F Hellcats are shown attacking Kure.
  • Death of a Child: Harumi is killed by a time-delayed bomb later in the story. Also, director Sunao Katabuchi mentions that several background extras, including a mother and her baby, are fated to be killed by the atomic bomb.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Keiko is rather cold and critical towards Suzu at first, though she gradually warms up to her sister-in-law as the story goes on.
  • Demoted to Extra: Aside from her first meeting with Suzu, nearly all of Rin's scenes were left out of the 2016 film, along with the heavy implications that Shusaku was a customer of Rin's who may have had some kind of relationship with her in the past, and Suzu's conflicted feelings upon realizing this.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In-Universe, Suzu can't see the hilarity in the rest of the Houjous laughing about the military police suspecting her of being a spy.
  • The Flapper: Keiko is revealed to have been a "modern girl" (a Japanese girl who followed westernized fashion trends during the 1920s and 30s) in her youth, which is the Japanese equivalent of this trope.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Suzu and Shuusaku had met before, prompting his interest in her, but she doesn't remember that occasion.
  • Genius Ditz: Suzu says herself that she's always had her head in the clouds, and she tends to be pretty clumsy both in her words and actions. However, she's also a talented artist and can come up with pretty creative solutions to dealing with things like food rations (like how she uses an old samurai recipe when there's a shortage of white rice).
  • Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak: Harumi is a feminine little girl, but she's also very interested in Japanese warships and is able to recognize and name them by sight. It's mentioned that her older brother taught her about them.
  • Happily Adopted: Towards the end of the story, Suzu and Shusaku take in a girl from Hiroshima who was orphaned by the bombing. The ending credits show her all cleaned up and much happier with Suzu and her family.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Rin, a courtesan who Suzu becomes friends with after getting lost and ending up in Kure's pleasure district.
  • Ill Boy: Keiko's husband had a poor constitution, which spared him from being conscripted into the army but eventually led to his early death.
  • Important Haircut: Suzu dramatically cuts her braid off after learning of the nuking of Hiroshima, trying to convince the other women that she can be useful in helping the survivors.
  • Kill the Cutie: Harumi is killed by a time-delayed bomb.
  • Killed Offscreen: Suzu's family suffers this thrice. Her brother is reportedly killed in action, with the only sign of him being a rock sent to the family in place of his remains. Her mother was in Hiroshima when Little Boy went off and she is never seen again. Her father fell sick from radiation poisoning and died afterwards.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The sequence at the beginning of the story where Suzu is captured by an ogre who plans to eat her and a young Shusaku is implied to be just a daydream Suzu had, but apparently one of her sheets of seaweed really was missing afterward (she used one to cover the ogre's telescope and trick him into thinking it was nighttime so he would fall asleep) and the ogre briefly shows up again towards the end of the story.
  • Moment Killer: At one point, Suzu and Shuusaku have a tender moment at the entrance to their bomb shelter and proceed to making out, only for Mr and Mrs Houjou to walk in on them.
  • Mood Dissonance: Suzu's Cloud Cuckoolander personality and the occasional bits of comedy and light-hearted moments can almost make you forget that the characters are living through horrible tragedies.
  • Never Found the Body: Suzu's brother is allegedly killed in action; all the Uranos get of him is a rock instead of any remains. Suzu's mother was in Hiroshima when Little Boy went off and she is last stated as missing.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Keiko's daughter Harumi is killed by a time-delayed bomb, and her grief initially makes her blame Suzu for it.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Suzu moves to Kure when Shusaku, a man she doesn't know, proposes marriage to her (though apparently they had met a while ago and Suzu didn't remember him). Despite how sudden this is, Suzu grows to love him.
  • Rage Breaking Point: After the surrender of Japan is announced, Suzu breaks into Berserker Tears, screaming about how the government had spent so long preparing the people to resist invaders or die trying only to fold like a cheap tent after the atomic bombings.
  • Scars Are Forever: After Suzu is caught in an explosion that kills Harumi, she has a small scar on her face that remains there for the rest of the story along with the loss of her right hand.
  • Scenery Gorn: There are many shots of Kure damaged by air raids.
  • Shown Their Work: Fumiyo Kouno did a lot of research in order to accurately portray life in Japan during World War II. The last volume of the manga even includes an extensive bibliography of all the books and documentaries she used as reference. Same goes for the 2016 film, where the director and his team extensively researched what Kure and Hiroshima looked like during the time period in which the story takes place.
  • Slice of Life: The story mostly follows this format, portraying Suzu and her friends and family's everyday lives during World War 2, even when they have to deal with things like food rations, air raids and building a bomb shelter. The tone becomes much less laid back after Harumi is killed by a time-delayed bomb and Suzu loses her right hand, and then things become even more serious after Little Boy is dropped on Hiroshima.
  • Title Drop: Towards the end of the story, when Suzu thanks Shuusaku for finding her "in this corner of the world".
  • You Should Have Died Instead: Keiko's reaction to Suzu surviving the bomb that killed Harumi. It takes a while before she recants it.

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