And with that, I think I have another series of Episode Reviews here.
There is definitely a lot of cutesy anime this season and yet I’m finding A Place Further than the Universe to be the cream of the crop right now. I certainly didn’t expect to be this enamored with the show. Not only was it originally not a point of interest for me, I just thought the premise of four girls heading off to Antarctica was downright silly. And make no mistake, this is a pretty silly story but to the show’s credit, it’s aware of it, has fun with it, and is able to make it so darn compelling.
As one might’ve figured from last episode, our fourth girl, Yuzuki Shiraishi (Saori Hayami), is the whole group’s ticket to Antarctica. Basically, she’s a very popular child actress/singer and she’s been hired by both the expedition team and her agency to host an online show promoting the trip. As ridiculous as it sounds, I actually think this is one of the more believable moments in the story. I mean, considering how bonkers the entertainment industry can be, I wouldn’t be too surprised if “Girls vs. Wild” actually got greenlit. You know some exec is out there, just tempted by the idea.
Regarding Yuzuki herself, I think she made a really strong first impression. From the get go, it’s clear that she is very displeased with her profession. She’s embarrassed by her own work, doesn’t get along too well with her mother/manager, and when Mari and Hinata wanted to take selfies with her, she more or less threatened to sue them. Why Yuzuki feels so discontent is quite simple: her life has never allowed her to make any friends. Being that busy means she moves around Japan a lot and even when she does try to connect with classmates, she deals with the fact that many befriend her because of her fame. All things considered, it’s a believable scenario given what child stars go through in real life and I think it connects well with how all of the show’s main characters are wishing for something more in life.
Yuzuki’s desire to have friends creates an interesting goal for Mari, Shirase, and Hinata. Because Yuzuki refuses to host the online show, her mother tasks our trio to get on her good side and persuade her to take up the job. If they succeed, they’ll be guaranteed membership on the expedition. I like that even though the trio does go out of their way to execute this plan, the goal of getting membership ends up being secondary to connecting with Yuzuki as a person. Once they learn about Yuzuki’s issues, they just comfort her and seemingly forget about convincing her to host the show. On top of that, these three clearly don’t care about Yuzuki’s fame; when they ask if she wants to hang out, they treat her job as just that, a job.
What seems to really compel Yuzuki to become friends with the others was finding out that they’ve only known each other for a couple of weeks. It’s an interesting detail to bring up because to be fair, you could’ve mistaken Mari, Shirase, and Hinata as longtime friends. Their chemistry is so strong from the get go. Even when they bicker (which can be really funny by the way) gives the impression that they’re so close that they know how to push each other’s buttons. It’s a big shock for Yuzuki as for so long, she’s thought making such natural connections requires so much work. And yet, in front of her are three girls who hit it off so quickly and are willing to invite her into their circle. That scene where she breaks down and cries in front of the others really struck out to me emotionally. I feel that she is crying because she wished she had these three as friends earlier in life but I think she’s also happy that she finally got to meet them.
I love how this episode ends. Yuzuki pulls some strings so that the others can hop on board the expedition and the four of them hang out, once again giving the vibe that they’ve always been close. Interestingly, Yuzuki’s first and last lines are both “I could just die right now”. The inflection and the context are of course, completely different from each other. At the beginning, it’s dry and displeased which reflects how she initially feels prior to meeting the other characters. By the end of the episode, she says it so happily which matches her newfound and more positive outlook on things.
Honestly, if the group just headed over to Fremantle in the next episode and set sailed for Antarctica, I’d be pretty cool about that. However, in the post-credit scene, we are introduced to a new character who seems to be related to Shirase. I doubt it’s her mother because boy, would that ruin the most personal motivation in this story. Still, it looks like there’s one more episode set in Japan before the adventure can truly begin.
Thanks for reading!
Watch A Place Further Than the Universe on Crunchyroll