In This Corner of the World

Alt title: Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni

Vol: 3; Ch: 48
2007 - 2009
4.155 out of 5 from 117 votes
Rank #1,242
In This Corner of the World

1940’s Hiroshima Prefecture. Suzu, a young woman from the countryside, joins her new husband and his family in the shipbuilding city of Kure. As her beautiful home collapses around her, Suzu must confront the challenges of a new life while coming to grips with a world in turmoil. Unwilling to give up hope, Suzu struggles against the horrors of war to create her own happiness.

Source: Seven Seas

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In This Corner of the World is a haunting, masterful depiction of World War II presented as a series of short, disconnected stories of an ordinary housewife. Presented through the lens of Suzu, a teenage girl who grows up in the outskirts of the city of Hiroshima before she moves to Kure at the start of the war. In This Corner of the World focuses on day-to-day life and interactions rather than military or political events, providing a rare perspective of a civilian while war encroaches in all facets of their life. The snippets of her as a child in Hiroshima and her pain adjusting to her new life as a housewife far from where she grew up also gives context to know how much changed for those living in poverty during WWII. Growing up in the 30s, she is drawn to the ocean and the merchant ships there, with her sketchpad to remember what captures her eye. One day, a ferry capsizing feels like an unspeakable tragedy at the time but will be remembered as a happier time 10 years. Slowly, the merchant ships disappear, replaced by cruisers, foreshadowing how war slowly encroachers on their day-to-day.  How schools are repurposed as propaganda outlets for the war effort. The use of short, disjointed stories paints a heartwrenching reality, without it ever feeling overwraught or melodramatic. We all know how the war ends and the destruction to come to Hiroshima, like a trainwreck in slow motion, but we don't know who is in the crosshairs, and the narrative style prevents In This Corner of the World from feeling like an inevitable death march. We feel the pain of taking over the chores of her new stepmother with a cold and condescending stepsister, friendless and far away from home. Of her tending to an herb garden to find ways to season food during the rations. Of fire bombs exploding over the Kure naval base errily reminscent of "The Starry Night" at dusk. Of friends she makes while taking a wrong turn in town and sharing a conversation after a day of stressful chores. A snapshot of life during a dark period of human history, this series understands it is the small moments and our emotional connections that immerse us into her story, into the life of a civilian and the trauma of war. With its deeply pacifist message and anguishing tale of civilian life during World War II, In This Corner of the World shows how manga can be a profound medium, able to mix visuals and text to produce a work more emotional than a novel ever could be. Rather than an escalating series of lifeless battle scenes, this series understands that the hearttbreak of someone desperately trying to put an unpolished stone back in an empty urn is more powerful than a large explosion. The ending is simultaneously realistic and leaves you shellshocked, crying both tears of joy and pain. Set in a world of catacylismic events, this series never loses track that it is the small moments that are the most impactful.

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