Director Sunao Katabuchi has worked on an astonishing range of anime. Many Western fans may still be most familiar with him as the director of the brashly ultraviolent series Black Lagoon, but his new opus In This Corner of the World is as far from that as Ozu’s Tokyo Story is from Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.
Based on the manga by Fumiyo Kono, the film is a delicately-drawn period drama showing the Japanese experience of World War II from the viewpoint of a young housewife, Suzu, who lives in a coastal town near Hiroshima. The saga of Suzu has collected a dizzying number of accolades in Japan. The film won the Japan Academy Prize for Best Animation of the Year, and was rated 2016’s best Japanese film (animated or live-action) by the prestigious film journal Kinema Junpo. (By the way, the last time Kinema Junpo had given an anime the top spot was in 1988, for My Neighbor Totoro.)