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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Promotes strong family bonds, taking care of elders, and doing the most with what you have during times of hardship. Suzu's story encourages staying positive and optimistic, caring for others, and seeing the best in everyone. Themes include compassion and perseverance.
Positive Role Models
Suzu is kind, artistic, and hardworking. Despite not knowing how to do all sorts of domestic things, she learns and tries her hardest. Shusaku is understanding and patient with Suzu, and they sweetly get to know each other despite a rushed marriage. Both families are close, and both sets of parents are attentive and loving.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of discussion of war (though the words "World War II" are never said in the movie) from the Japanese point of view. Air raids are common; families hide in shelters. People are injured (one character loses a limb) and die (one child's death will be particularly difficult for younger viewers). After the atomic bomb detonates, characters find out that several members of their families have died and/or their houses have been destroyed. People suffer from radiation poisoning, and one girl who has lost her mother in a violent way is homeless and orphaned (but ends up safe and secure).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Veiled references to the wedding night, a few tender kisses, and one pregnancy scare. In one somewhat confusing scene, it seems like Suzu's husband gives her permission to spend the night with her old male friend (and childhood crush) -- but they just talk.
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Infrequent insults including "stupid," "dummy," "forgetful," "boring," and "two-bit."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that In This Corner of the World is an animated, subtitled Japanese drama set in the late 1930s and early 1940s (i.e., during World War II) in and near Hiroshima. Some of the movie's themes (arranged marriage, the role of daughters-in-law in Japanese culture, wartime recession/depression, air raids, etc.) may be difficult for younger viewers to understand. And the violence can be disturbing, especially a couple of the deaths and one major injury from the U.S./Allied attacks on Japan. Characters must also deal with the aftermath of the atomic bomb that falls on Hiroshima (destruction, loss, radiation poisoning). The movie's romance starts with marriage and leads to a young couple getting to know and eventually love each other. There are a couple of kisses, references to the wedding night, and a pregnancy scare, as well as one scene in which a character could easily commit adultery. Viewers will learn about historical Japan and the importance of family, duty, art, compassion, and perseverance. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Director Sunao Katabuchi's exploration of wartime Japan is simple and touching, if a bit too long and heavy for younger fans of animated films. Older moviegoers are more likely to fully appreciate the historical drama of In This Corner of the World. Suzu is a naive, optimistic, and easy-to-love protagonist who eagerly applies herself to her new role as a wife and daughter-in-law, taking care of Shusaku's family home, bonding with Harumi, and trying to impress Keiko, her sophisticated but cranky sister-in-law. Her romance with Shusaku is a slow burn, despite the fact that it begins with the couple's wedding. Shusaku and Suzu gradually grow to love each other, even when Suzu's childhood crush, Mizuhara, visits and offers to take her away. The newlyweds have a sweet bond, and Suzu is a joy to watch -- whether she's cooking for her new family, drawing with Harumi, or looking at various kinds of military ships with Shusaku.
As the date and title cards appear, viewers who know their history will begin to feel unease with the inevitable approach of August 1945. The air raids and bombings begin, and what starts with simple rationing ends in unimaginable suffering. But even grieving, Suzu doesn't completely lose her capacity for joy and love. The movie shows the "other side" of the war with Japan -- it doesn't cast the Japanese as villains, as so many other WWII-set movies do, but shows them as civilians, families, human beings struggling to survive. If only the movie had been edited down 20-30 minutes, it could have been even more effective. Still, despite the runtime, In This Corner of the World is a watchable, well-researched historical drama.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.