If you have ever found yourself daydreaming about leaving it all behind, escaping somewhere far away to go on an adventure without telling anyone, that just means you’re human. It also means you will definitely fall in love with A Place Further than the Universe.
No Spoilers (Mostly) To Follow!
In an era where anime seems to be more and more about escaping to surreal fantastic worlds, A Place Further than the Universe manages to stand out for being as realistic as it gets. Reading the synopsis, one might think that going to Antarctica in your teenage years is not exactly realistic… except it is. And that’s the whole point of this series: you can find adventure right here, in this world, and at any time.
The themes behind A Place Further than the Universe are incredibly easy to relate to. It contains a thirst for adventure (especially during the teenage years), the desire to break the routine and try something new, the thrill you feel when doing something exciting, yet scary. And, in later episodes — and as the characters grow — we get more emotional themes like the search for closure, accepting unwanted truths and wanting to start over again.
The Themes of A Place Further than the Universe
All of these themes are represented through our four main characters: Kimari, Shirase, Hinata, and Yuzuki. After all, this is one of those stories that it’s not about the destination, but about the journey and the experiences that shape the characters. The progression of the series equals the (slow) progression of the journey, which at the same time, mirrors the progression of the characters.
As the episodes go on, we learn more and more about them as conflicts start to arise (without ever reaching the level of melodrama that is so often forced). In fact, it’s these four girls, their hopes, their fears, and their personalities that make this such a great story.
The Main Characters
Kimari is the main character and the most relatable of them all. She’s a normal high school girl who one day realizes she hasn’t done any of the exciting things she wanted to do as a teen. She doesn’t have any particular idea in mind, other than skipping school to take a different train. She meets Shirase, someone who (at least on the surface) appears to be calm and the complete opposite to Kimari.
Unlike her, Shirase does have a plan: to travel to Antarctica to find her mother. Shirase is a loner, and she’s used to people making fun of her bizarre plans. The last two additions to the group are Hinata, a very energetic girl who has some hidden problems of her own. And, Yuzuki, who starts out being their gateway to the Antarctica expedition. Whom also ends up being a great friend to the others (and surprisingly funny).
A Genuine Anime Series
Realistic friendship is hard to come by in anime since most of the time every single reaction and gesture are overly exaggerated. In that regard, it’s really no wonder that these characters are the series’ biggest forte: screen-writer Jukki Hanada has worked in other series that have excelled for the exact same reason (Sound!Euphonium, Chuunibyou, K-On!…).
Their reactions are genuine, the things they do and say are the things that you would expect from a bunch of teenage girls, and the fact that the show takes a lot of time to do some research and get things right helps a lot. Even if Antarctica might not be the place we all think of for a holiday or even for adventure, in the context of the series the place works precisely for that: Antarctica is such a remote, unexplored place that it can work as the setting for anything one can imagine.
It’s a white canvas.
The Meaning of A Place Further than the Universe
Its whiteness and vast emptiness is the perfect place for one to clear their mind and see things with more clarity. In a way, it’s a metaphor of how sometimes we need a radical change to start new beginnings, and how that takes a lot of courage. By the end of the series, Antarctica ends up meaning something different from each one of the characters.
More than anything, A Place Further than the Universe is an invitation to travel. To step out of your comfort zone, to say hello to that stranger in the train, to find a new hobby, or to maybe pick up that one dream you abandoned a few years ago. After all, the biggest adventures in life are found through change.