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About a year ago, I first heard of A Place Further Than The Universe, but was initially hesitant to check it out. Once I did, I realized why it's considered one of the best anime released in 2018.
The story is about four high school girls who join a civilian expedition to Antarctica. One of them, Shirase, is especially determined to go in order to find her mother, who went missing in Antarctica three years ago. As unrealistic as the idea of teenagers with no prior experience going on such an adventure is, the show does a good job of showing how they manage to get a way in, and that they still aren't nearly as useful as the more experienced adults, which helps maintain the show's believability.
A Place Further Than The Universe isn't easy to fit into any one specific genre, since while it's fairly lighthearted has some Slice of Life elements, it also has a defined goal and a surprisingly high amount of drama. None of the scenes feel wasted, as they generally serve to advance the plot, help the characters develop, or help the viewers learn a little about Antarctica or the characters who are journeying there.
The show is beautifully animated, and displays excellent attention to detail. The soundtrack, particularly the various insert songs, is also quite well-done, effectively complementing the mood of any given scene.
The characters are one of the show's main strong suits. Rather than being stereotypes or cliches, they come off as real people, and generally can't be boiled down to a single archetype or personality trait. Shirase's probably the best example, as well as the show's best and most complex character- part of her is a girl who will stop at nothing to reach Antarctica, another part is a dorky and overly serious girl who struggles with stage fright, and yet another part is a damaged and emotionally vulnerable girl who doesn't know how to deal with the fact that her mother is almost certainly dead. The rest of the main cast is similarly deep, and generally show off a few new layers each time they get a turn in the spotlight.
The show's relatively short, at a mere 13 episodes, and if you enjoyed it as much as I did, you'll probably be a little sad that it's over once you reach the end. That said, it was because the journey to get to the end of the series was an enjoyable one, and one that I'd recommend taking.
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