Earlier this year, fans were finally given a chance to experience In This Corner of the World through film. The movie, which was directed by Sunao Katabuchi, introduced a young woman named Suzu living on the precipice of World War II. The critical darling has led the In This Corner of the World manga to make its way to America, and the omnibus only adds to the anime's delicate richness.
If you have seen In This Corner of the World, then you will know much of what its manga has in store. Very little detail from Fumiyo Kōno’s story was removed from Katabuchi’s film, but the manga does expand on elements which the movie didn’t have time to cover.
The lengthy omnibus starts off simply enough as Suzu’s younger years are played out for readers. The girl lives a quiet life as she helps her family, draws comics of her ogreish brother, and eventually learns of an arranged marriage her parents have set up. When the manga transitions into her years as a young woman, Suzu is still a whimsical soul, but her life becomes darkened by the changes going on around her.
After moving in with her fiance’s family, Suzu leaves her home in Hiroshima City to stay in Kure. The girl fits quietly within her new surroundings but she never fully fits in. Suzu’s growing affection for her fiance Shusaku becomes a highlight for readers to watch unfold, but it doesn’t take long for the manga to unveil its ever-important backdrop. As propaganda posters and naval ships are seen coming in, readers realize WWII is just on the horizon, and Suzu’s new life is in its crosshairs.
Much like the film, In This Corner of the World is resolute in its details. The manga is thoroughly researched and vetted, making readers feel as if they’re looking at a diary account of the war rather than a fictional tale. The story is also filled with delicate artwork that contrasts its bleak setting, and the manga even uses Suzu’s own sketches to fill out its panels. Despite the story’s heavy themes, In This Corner of the World is a pleasure for the eyes, but some will prefer the anime to the manga in that regard.
Kōno is known for her simplistic style, and In This Corner of the World does suffer for it at times. It can be difficult to tell apart characters whilst reading as most share similar facial features, body types, and more. The story’s main characters are differentiated enough for readers to single out, but its supporting cast can blur together.
If you are not bothered by the artwork, then In This Corner of the World is a gorgeous look into a often overlooked piece of history. Stories about WWII are not hard to come by, but Kōno’s story explains the period from the perspective of Japan’s everywoman. Suzu is no different than the thousands of other Japanese women living in fear of the great war, and In This Corner of the World gives an unfiltered look at what day-to-day life was like for those citizen’s lives. The omnibus is a long one, but it offers fans of Katabuchi’s film an expansive look at a rarely seen narrative. The manga encourages readers to reflect upon war in its most candid form, and it may just make you think about what history will say about your own ordinary routine decades down the road.