This article will take a slightly different approach. Instead of presenting a more defined analysis, I’ve decided to be more informal, highlighting my thoughts as I understand a genre. It’s strangely apt then that my musings begin with this show, Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than The Universe). By showing how I think, perhaps my musings on Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than The Universe)’s story can benefit others.
The Mundane Everyday
Depending on the context, the “everyday life” can range from a cherished goal to prison-like circumstances. For those seeking to break the mold and self-improvement, a chance to make themselves into something different means change is necessary. In this context, for one day to be like the last—for things to always be the same—is not a goal, but an unfortunate reminder: “I cannot move forward.”
The first episode expands on an apt image: water trapped by walls of sand. As a young Mari plays in the sandbox, the narration states, “Water collects into stagnant pools. I’ve always loved watching it spill out all at once. Breaking free, liberated, rushing out. The energy stored up during its stagnation bursts forth.”
This desire to have a breakthrough is relatable. It’s shared, not only by Mari, but every character in the show. However, in Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than The Universe), the characters are beset by fear and anxiety. Fear that the future won’t match their hopes and anxiety at the thought that they are unmoving. This loop is unending until the characters brave their fears, and take the first step towards plan a new tomorrow.
The Importance of a Destination
The show uses a familiar structure: multiple cute girls doing everyday things. However, while its outward appearance is similar to shows like K-on!, Yuru Yuri, and Hyakko, the direction is different. To clarify, the previous shows are slice of life while Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than The Universe) is an adventure. While this is a simple observation, I highlight this to make a point: destination creates direction.
A physical journey is external, observable. With it comes a journey that can be both literal and metaphorical. For characters who struggle to move forward, having something definite and certain is important. Even if their inner journey is unseen, it’s undeniable that something’s changed. After all, the sights they see are discernibly different.
The Step Forward: How Slice of Life Can Borrow from Adventure
Slice of life shows are familiar, understandable, and easy to digest. Part of their strength is how relatable they are. Typically these shows favor a character-driven story, however for viewers who prefer more plot, this can be unappealing.
A physical destination creates a visual arc, an apparent beginning and end. Using this, writers can layer their stories with an overarching story while keeping the familiar and relatable day-to-day routines. In the case of Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than The Universe), the overarching story (the plot) is the trip to Antarctica. The stories between the beginning and end serve as both setup (they prepare the characters on their trip) and develop the characters through their interactions.
I think Universe is a good reference point. It creates weight behind its “slice of life” scenes by recontextualizing them. These characters aren’t just motivated to change their lives, they are motivated to make their everyday special. Now, what was once “mundane” becomes another step towards their destination: A Place Further Than The Universe.
I’ll be honest, Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than The Universe) confused me for most of my viewing. As a viewer who focuses on plot and directing, Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than The Universe) and the conventions it sought to reframe took time to understand. While I wouldn’t call myself an avid viewer of similar shows, I believe that the process of understanding this show’s appeal helped me appreciate its intricacies more. If this helped you enjoy the show, then I’m thankful that my rambling has resulted in something positive.