The finale of the series is a emotion-packed, but sweet episode. Having their last days of fun in Antarctica before they would have to go home, Mari and the girls have their shaved ice, Shirase gets surrounded by penguins, and the entire crew play baseball together. Lots of emotions were felt through Gin and Shirase’s speeches at the farewell party, Shirase’s being especially beautiful as she described her then bitter feelings toward Antarctica, but has changed her views since and has understood the love her own mother had for this place further than the universe.
I have to say, I am amazed at Shirase’s journey. Of course going to Antarctica was a big deal, and was the physical journey, but her personal and emotional journey was amazing to see from start to end, and if you had to ask me who my favorite of the girls were, I would have to pick Shirase. Even though I love Mari, Hinata, and Yuzuki as well, but when I look at how far Shirase has come, I just feel like a proud mama! In the beginning of the show, she was a stern and ambitious girl that did things on her own. She hid a funny and awkward side to her personality, but she was very driven to achieve the things that she wanted, such as taking on all kinds of jobs and raising a million yen in three years in order to go to the place her mother was waiting for her. And she did that all on her own. She harbored emotions of denial and bitterness against her mother’s fate and Antarctica in general. Meeting Mari, Hinata, and Yuzuki, she learned to open herself up to others, even if it was a little hard at first. Once being the girl to do things on her own, she formed a group of friends who she cared so much about that she would never want to be separated from them. And finally coping with her mother’s death, she was finally able to properly grieve and take a new step into her life. Her cutting her hair is an important symbol in Asia signifying a new start in life, which is exactly what Shirase is ready to do. Smiling as she handed Gin her mother’s laptop, and smiling when receiving the message her mother had never been able to send shows her acceptance and confidence about herself. That confidence showed as she gave that wonderful speech to the crew. But, she’s still awkward as hell and that’s just fine. Looking back on her character development is such a treat, but of course that isn’t to say that the other girls didn’t have their own because they certainly did.
Antarctica made a huge impact on their lives. It gave them new perspectives on their lives and strengthened their friendship. They’ve enjoyed their journey so much, that they’ve all promised to return one day together. Mari had wanted to stay for the rest of the year, but things such as their school, their families, and Yuzuki’s drama are in the way, so plans for another trip would have to be much later. Mari made the most of her youth and found something she would continue to do in the future, Hinata has learned to depend on others, and Yuzuki has learned a little lesson in friendship. The journey has been nothing but positive for them all.
To me, this show isn’t just about making the journey to Antarctica. While that was the core of the series, there was so much more to it. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho was about friendship. It was about growth, it was about acceptance, it was about grief, denial, love, and pain. It took a realistic approach to the relationships and emotions among the characters that made the show so compelling. Watching the girls work hard and achieving their dreams and reaching a better part of their lives is also very motivational, and I have to admit that I always felt a little invigorated after watching an episode. It made me want to go out and do something in my life.
From the beginning, I knew exactly what Mari felt when she said that she felt like she wasn’t doing enough in her youth because I felt, and still feel, the same way. I also feel like I haven’t done much of anything in my life, and I feel a little worse because I’m in my 20’s. I want to do more, and after watching this show where these girls went out and beyond to get what they wanted, ignoring what people thought and said about them made me smile. Obviously, this anime hit close to home at times and it feels really important to me. There are other people that feel the same way, and I hope that those people felt as much motivation as I did to go out and do something. It can be tough, but the end result will probably be amazing. And as a female, it’s great that all of this was done my a mostly female cast, both young and older. I always have to mention Kanae and Gin, as they were just important as mentor figures and also as friends. I’m glad Gin was also able to cope and have a sense of closure as she formed a strong and positive bond with Shirase.
Another thing about this show that I have to mention are both the art and music. The scenic shots of Singapore, Australia, and Antarctica were breathtaking. Such gorgeous scenes kind of made me feel like I was there with them and I could understand what they felt when they were there. The insert songs were played quite a bit, but they weren’t overplayed or obnoxious. The soundtrack is memorable because it does what it needed to do, which was elevate the scene. And damn it it did because I would always have tears in my eyes when the songs would play, especially in the finale.
There are absolutely no negatives I can think of. It’s always a little nerve wracking watching an original show, because you don’t know how it’s going to play out and don’t know what to expect. Also, on Madhouse’s side, it’s not that easy to create such a perfect story in only 13 episodes, but that’s exactly what they managed to do. They completed the story perfectly, that a second season or a movie would be absolutely unnecessary. The characters have grown, they’ve done what they needed to do, and we know they’re going to always be friends and return to Antarctica someday. Shows like this one are hard to come by, and Madhouse’s execution is something to marvel at. I mean, this is why they’re my favorite animation studio. 9 times out of 10, I know to expect a great show from them. There’s nothing I would change about Sora yori mo Tooi Basho, and this has been my favorite show of the Winter season. I’m gonna look back on it with a smile and hope more stories like this can be made.