I've watched a lot of anime over the years, but very few have a had as much of an impact on me as A place further than the universe(宇宙よりも遠い場所), sora yori mo tooi basho.
When I started watching sora yori I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. With the premise of high school girls going on a journey to antarctica I expected a simple anime with cute girls doing cute things(CGDCT). What I got was an anime with interesting characters, good character arcs, beautiful animation, and emotional scenes.
The characters and their journey had a huge impact on me and taught me a bit of a life lesson. Throughout the story the four main characters, Shirase, Mari, Hinata, and Yuzuki showed tremendous courage. Through their shared journey, A place further than the universe taught me something important about facing life with courage.
There are two characters I want to talk about specifically, Shirase and Mari.
Shirase Kobuchizawa, is temperamental, social awkward, clumsy, and quick to anger. Her and I are alot alike, especially in the temperament and social awkwardness areas. She is also brave, stupidly unabashedly brave. Shirase's courage is loud and unconfined, it forces out anything that stands in the way of her goals. For years every single person told her that her dreams were dumb and impossible, she finally makes it to Antarctica. Despite everything in her life working against her, she manages to travel thousands of mile, to another hemisphere to reach the land where her mother disappeared. In one of my favorite moments in the show, Shirase lands in Antarctica on her own two feet and screams "In your face!" to everyone who ever doubted her. Shirase's courage is a strong, uncontrollable fire that can't be stopped. It is a force that pushes any obstacle out of her way and pushes her towards her dreams. Through her story we can all learn to dedicate everything to our dreams.
While I identify with Shirase's personality, it is Mari Tamaki's story that resonated with me the most. At the start of series Mari is living a quiet high school existence, longing for something more. Her life has been simple and peaceful, coasting through life, never pushing boundaries. It is through a chance meeting with Shirase that Mari begins to forge her own path. Hearing Shirase's dream is what finally hardens her resolve. Mari falls in love with Shirase's passion and wants to help her reach her goal. It is through Shirase that Mari finds her own courage and is able to finally find her own path in life.
I am not a brave person. I am in all honesty a pretty big coward. I might be loud and obnoxious at times, but standing up for myself has always been something I've struggled with, and I'm usually hesitant to try new things. Going with the flow and not upsetting things has always been my guiding philosophy. Mari showed me that even someone who lives with a plan for everything, someone who constantly thinks about what could go wrong, someone who always chickens out at the last minute, even someone like me could do something brave.
It has been a little less than a year since I first came out as transgender to another person, it took years to build up that courage. Even now a year later I am still terrified. Everyday I think about the long journey ahead I get scared. When I think about the day that I will finally present to the outside world as female, I see it as something far off in the future, nearly unobtainable. Much like Mari in the first episode of the series, I get scared and want to crawl back in bed. Watching these characters grow over the last few weeks made me realize that it is ok to be scared, but you still have to take those first courageous steps towards the future. It will be a long journey but I'm going to take some more smaller steps to get there. I hope to find my place in this beautiful world.
A Place Further Than the Universe reminded me that everyone can be brave, you just have to look inside yourself. Shirase, Mari, Hinata, and Yuzuki all found their own bravery in the series and made it to a beautiful place, where few people have set foot, and through their stories, maybe we can all learn how to chase our dreams. Whether your journey is going to Antarctica or finding your true self all it takes is taking that first courageous step. Mari, thank you for showing me that someone who starts out scared and going through a quiet life can find the courage to chase their dreams.
I loved this anime, and it has easily become one of my all time favorites. While I would love to see these characters again, I honestly don't want another season. Everything was so neatly wrapped up that I'm afraid any further story wouldn't have the same impact.
Thank you girls for teaching me a lesson about courage.
You can watch A Place Further Than the Universe on crunchyroll
P.S. This series can be an emotional roller coaster you might want to watch it with some tissues.