We’re not sure if you’ve heard of this anime, but you should check it out ASAP because you’d be completely missing out. A Place Further Than the Universe is about four high school girls who embark on a mission to Antarctica in a bid for self-discovery.
A critical success, the 13-episode adventure anime was selected as the #8 International Show of the Year by The New York Times and also chosen as one of the best animes of the 2010s by Crunchyroll and IGN. The show was also produced by Madhouse, a well-known animation studio that also produced the Wolf Children and Death Note.
Though we don’t know why the quiet hit never exploded onto the anime scene, we can give you some pretty good reasons why it’s severely underrated. Read on to find out!
APFU wouldn’t be a good anime if it didn’t have beautiful animation. The characters and settings are drawn very simply, but it’s the colors and the way the show makes us feel the emotions of each scene that really hit it home.
From the urban jungle that is Tokyo to the vast white expanse of Antarctica, APFU doesn’t skimp out on any small details. Each image evokes a feeling of something – joy, sorrow, excitement, anxiety – and that is what sets the series apart from other animes that focus solely on fight scenes or dialogue to move the show along.
You only need to see one sunset in Antarctica to feel like you’ve entered an entirely different world.
The characters of this anime are what round out the whole show. Each girl has different reasons for wanting to join the expedition to Antarctica and each girl comes to a conclusion by the end of the journey.
For Kimari, it’s the drag of everyday life. For Shirase, it’s the possibility of her mother’s survival. For the others, it’s just the thought of trying something new in what seems to be the passing years of their youth.
The coming-of-age story that blossoms from each character’s journey only serves to highlight how unique and personable the girls are. They’re not perfect, nor are they perfect friends, but it’s the building of these relationships that makes them relatable and endearing.
Rarely do you see perfectly paced animes like APFU; from the beginning, until the end, the plot simply gives the best of the girls’ experience of, well, experiencing life. They laugh, they get angry, and they cry. What seems impossible is made possible, and surprisingly, there’s more to their story than their touchdown in Antarctica.
It’s a delicate tale of friendships made and things lost, and all the growing and maturing that occurs in between. We, like the characters, will also be made to laugh and cry as we join them on the journey to a place where “everything is out in the open”.
In all honesty, the slice-of-life genre doesn’t give APFU any justice. It’s slice-of-life with adventure and meaning. There’s a sincere spirit in the girls’ youth that’ll make you wish you also got up and went on a trip to Antarctica in your heyday.
And as heartbreaking and touching the show is, it’s also equal parts inspiring. By the end of the series, you’ll realize that the great adventure has ended and that there is a life to live outside of the trip, and that that “normal” life is perfectly fine.
In the words of Kimari, “There is no such day where nothing happens”.
So, if you’re still wondering whether or not to start this series, we think that you 100% should. You won’t find a genuine, feel-good anime like this one.