It’s always refreshing to see an original anime be talked about as possibly one of the best to come out of any given season. This is even truer for Sora yori mo Tooi Basho. It’s not an edge-of-your-seat adventure series rife with peril or action, nor is it even all that climactic in general. It is, however, objectively the best show I’ve seen so far from the Winter 2018 season, and one of the better ones I’ve seen in the last year.
Most of us have come to expect an inherent level of quality from everything that comes out of Madhouse, but Sora yori mo Tooi Basho is a well put together piece in just about every way you can measure. This is to say, every component complements another whether it be a clever combination of shot selection and dialog amplifying the emotional impact of a particular character interaction, or an inspiring score presented in tandem with beautiful imagery fostering a greater sense of awe. Such synergy can, in part, be attributed to the fact that director Atsuko Ishizuka, planner/writer Jukki Hanada, music producer Yoshiaki Fujisawa, and studio Madhouse have all worked together before on the popular series No Game No Life. The other part is that they’re just that good. Ishizuka, for example, previously directed the anime adaptation of Supernatural, and Hanada was the series composer for Steins;Gate.
The story of Sora yori mo Tooi Basho centers around a group of girls and their desire to reach Antarctica. It’s a fairly tame premise as far as anime goes, but one that ends up feeling worthwhile nonetheless. Aside from some minor pacing issues, the story reasonably moves along from start to finish, and our characters encounter realistic struggles along the way. It’s the character development, though, that won me over. Each member of the main ensemble noticeably changes over the course of the narrative, as do many of the supporting characters. That’s worth recognizing for a series spanning only 13 episodes.
All the development takes place amidst some truly beautiful scenery. Madhouse really amped up the beauty of the backgrounds and establishing shots, so much so that the character art, while still decent, sometimes seems little bland in comparison. Nevertheless, this is mitigated by just how well all the pieces come together. A blend of static imagery, extreme close ups, and even point-of-view perspectives reinforce the curious, adventurous nature of the story. Meanwhile, the mix of inspiring and sentimental music enhance its overall sense of wonder.
Sora yori mo Tooi Basho won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but should you choose to embark on this journey that leads to the Antarctic, you might just find a series that leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling and sense of wanderlust. A sensation that lasts 20 minutes, followed by the sad realization that never, in your own life, will you ever likely experience the same kind of adventure or personal growth that the characters of Sora yori mo Tooi Basho achieve.
Story/Character – 8.5
Art/Animation – 9
Sound – 8.5
Enjoyment – 9.5
Overall – 9/10
The Weeabros don’t own the image used in this review, bro.