All good things must come to an end.
I knew the day would come but I still can’t believe that A Place Further Than the Universe has ended. Ever since the show started, I asked “Where the hell did this show come from?” and I’m still pondering on this question. Maybe the strong reputation from director Atsuko Ishizuka and lead writer Jukki Hanada should’ve raised some flags but I honestly did think this show was going to be a dumb show about Antarctica. Thank goodness I was 1,000,000% wrong about that.
Regarding the finale itself, I couldn’t have asked for a much better sendoff for this show. After a heavy and emotional penultimate episode, this ending is a lot more relaxed and upbeat by comparison. Our main characters enjoy their final days at Antarctica, bid the crew farewell, and return home to face the future. Shirase, in particular, seems to have fully accepted Takako’s death for what it is and moves on (and with a new haircut to prove that resolve too).
I did go in, thinking that the finale would immediately follow up on Shirase’s grief. At first, I was thrown off that the story skipped time on purpose but after thinking it over, I’m glad that such a decision was made. Shirase’s arc got so heavy last episode that it actually almost upstaged everything else in the story. And the thing is that Yorimoi isn’t really Shirase’s story; there are four distinctive arcs in this anime. There’s still closure of course but I have to give Hanada and any other writers credit for making sure to balance closure for Shirase with other parts of the story in this episode.
And when I really think about it, there were all sorts of things going on in Yorimoi that ultimately are just in service to its character development and themes. Yuzuki’s online show? Honestly just a thing our protagonists do that highlights the fun side of their team dynamic. Hinata’s friends at school? They solely functioned to get yelled at by Shirase and demonstrate the protectiveness and loyalty each main character has for one another. Again, we don’t even know them by name and they even just disappeared from the story altogether. The same could ultimately be said about Takako’s death. Remember, it was ultimately Shirase’s friends and not Shirase herself who pushed for finding clues. It was a testament to how people will always push each other for greater aspirations even when their friends claim they’re done.
It makes sense that Shirase has recovered and is now able to look forward with a big smile on her face. As heartbreaking as the truth is, she’s thankful. Thankful for her friends who pushed her to seek the truth and thankful that the closure she got was what she was looking for.
That scene where Shirase hands her mother’s laptop to Gin was a little cheesy but very heartwarming as well. It’s nice to see Shirase part ways with Gin on positive terms and handing over the laptop not only shows that she’s moving on from Takako’s death but also to inform Gin that she can also move on as well. This also leads to Gin finding a email draft that Takako tried to send before she died. I don’t care if the message coincides with the present-day aurora too well; that was a really beautiful and uplifting scene.
I am maybe a little bummed that Mari didn’t get the spotlight completely again. I thought that tackling every arc in reverse was what Yorimoi going for. Then again, I guess Mari’s own share of personal drama was resolved a lot earlier (like Episode 5 when I think about it). To be fair, I like that supportive role that she’s played in the last few episodes and she still got her moments in this finale.
It comes to no surprise that Mari is the least excited to go home. Out of everyone, Mari wanted a fulling adolescence the most and already, she’s prompting the others to consider embarking on another journey like this in the future. Once she accepts that she does have to go home and her friends won’t bail on her, she does come to a very mature decision to part ways as soon as the gang arrives in Japan.
That stood to me as a very important piece of commentary on the show’s theme of friendship. It’s always hard to admit it but we do live our lives separately from our friends and we can ultimately be pulled apart because of the paths we take. Hinata’s going to prepare for college, Yuzuki’s off to film her drama, and both Shirase and Mari have a lot of catching up to do with their families. And yet, not once does it ever feel as though this is where the friendships die. You know for a fact that these four will hang out once their schedules clear, maybe even start planning another group trip. That’s the amazing thing about friendship that Yorimoi gets. Our protagonists are splitting up for now but there’s always ways for them to stay connected.
It does crack me up that the last bit of character development in this show is from Megumi. That might seriously be the friendliest betrayal I’ve seen in recent anime. I kind of want to see a spin-off about that trip to the Arctic too. On a more serious note though, resolving Megumi’s arc like that feels like the final reinforcement to Yorimoi‘s core message. Mari ultimately did inspire her childhood friend to strive for something greater. I could joke again that Megumi copycatted here but I think the similarity in location is deliberate, showing that this character wanted to experience what Mari went through, just in her own way. It’s a strange way to end the ending but I think it worked quite nicely.
Could there be a second season of Yorimoi? I often bring a question like that with a lot of anime. Even knowing that such a dream could be far-fetched, it’s always fun speculating on the possibility and it can be fun to look back at it when news of more content does arise. And clearly, Ishizuka and her staff did entertain the idea since our four main characters ponder on what they’ll do next together.
It’s certainly gets my hopes but the truth is that I’m fine if this season is all we’re going to get. If you think about it, every major arc has been addressed and (at least for me) they’ve been resolved on a very satisfying and conclusive note. So much has been accomplished here that it’s hard to imagine seeing a story after this one. Still, I have a feeling that if the staff of Yorimoi do end up making another season, they’ll have a good reason to do so. For now, I’m happy with what we got.
And I’ll just say it: I love A Place Further Than the Universe. I’d dare say this has even become one of my favorite anime of all time. Maybe not Anime of the Year, it’s still too early to decide (and I know one show that can possibly beat this) but I have to admit that it’s up there right now. I’m just enamored with everything about this show. This could’ve easily been a really dumb, cutesy, and pandering anime but instead it turned out to be a thoughtful and terrifically executed character-driven story about friendship. I don’t know where it came from but I am so glad that the anime landscape has been graced by its presence.
- Shirase and Penguins is one of the most compelling romances ever. The only thing more romantic was Yuzuki’s infatuation with friendship.
- Leaving the one million yen behind was another great way to show how Shirase moved on…but come on, someone’s going to steal it. Use that money for some durian at least.
- I can’t believe there was a baseball game in this finale. Anime baseball episodes knows no bounds.
- Going off of how friends can push each other to achieve something, I liked how the expedition crew are thankful for the girls taking part in the trek. Clearly, some younger voices was what this team needed to feel re-energized.
- Shirase brought some South Pole ice for her mother’s shrine at home. I just….this is too much for me.
- I’m so glad that the four did their pose for the aurora. I don’t know why, I really love that image and the choice of scenery was stunning and fitting.
- As much as I love this finale, I am stunned that it managed to play every single insert song produced for the soundtrack. Still didn’t stop me from feeling the feels though.
Thanks for reading!
Watch A Place Further Than the Universe on Crunchyroll