The girls finally get to board the ship in Fremantle, but it doesn’t get to leave the dock just yet. As everyone gets settled into their cramped living quarters, Yuzuki can’t help but feel as though the adults are hiding something. After all, there’s a stark lack of people on the boat; the girls thought the expedition team would be a lot bigger. Outsiders also can’t help but express their pessimism as they whisper about the potential of the trip ending in complete failure. Initially, I was afraid that Yuzuki would definitely stumbleupon a big issue, but there really isn’t one. The episode played with my expectations. Yeah, the expedition is understaffed, but that’s to be expected. After all, they’re not just a bunch of civilians embarking on a journey to the most unforgiving place on Earth. They also managed to lose their leader three years ago. That’s a huge black-eye for any organization, and it’s not surprising that the world’s confidence in them continues to be at an all-time low. Sponsors have withdrawn their financial support, and likewise, for some unlucky members of the team, loved ones have withdrawn their emotional support.
And yet, the group will never give up because they’re all a bunch of mini-Shirases. Who would ever believe that a high school girl could make it to Antarctica one day? I still don’t believe it myself. Over time, I’ve grown to like this show, but I still think the premise is unrealistic. But setting that aside — and honestly, realism isn’t that important — I can’t help but be charmed by the show’s message about the strength of the human spirit and fulfilling our greatest dreams in spite of all the naysayers in our lives. One by one, the girls introduce themselves to the group. They each have their own reasons to be on this trip. Mari wants to stop talking about change and actually have one. Yuzuki wants to feel like part of a family. Hinata wants to do something big before her entrance exams. And last but not least, Shirase wants to finish what her mother started. It’s not that simple for the girl, of course. A small part of her clings onto the hope that her mother is still out there somewhere on that frigid continent, and this is not something she can confess to a room full of strangers. And yet, that determination is shared by everyone in the room.
Like mother, like daughter; Takako was also full of dreams and ambition, and she led her team all the way to Antarctica three years ago. That’s outrageous. That’s also incredibly commendable. And yet, who will remember the original trip in such a positive light? Because of how the original expedition ended, the public seems to have forgotten or will just plain disregard what Takako managed to achieve. Even though the trip ended in disaster, it doesn’t mean the story has to. And that’s why all of the original members made a promise to return to Antarctica one day. They know they won’t find Takako out there, but her dreams and ambition still are. Everyone, including Shirase, can write a new chapter to the story by, again, finishing what Takako started. And ultimately, A Place Further From The Universe is important despite all of its shortcomings because it wants us to believe in the purest form of love. It is a love that can’t be tainted by pessimism or material wealth. These folks won’t be compensated for this trip nor will they get any accolades. Shirase faced ridicule, and the world still doubts these guys. And yet, everyone — from the girls to the original expedition members — continues to push on. At the end of the day, this all sounds a little corny, but eh… who cares?
Misc. notes & observations
— The adults are just as goofy as the children, it seems.
— See, from this shot, it doesn’t look like Shirase really towers above the rest.
— Is it really that embarrassing to jump? I forgot why they even chose Shirase to be the co-star. Either Mari or Hinata would’ve been a much better option.
— Hinata and Yuzuki continue to be the level-headed members of the group. Just look at how Shirase is completely taken by a stuffed penguin. This shot also says everything. Shirase is still my second favorite in the group, though. She’s just so goofy at times like how she whined for miso ramen in last week’s episode.
— On a related note, it’s amazing how quickly they’ve come together as a group. It feels like they’ve been friends forever.
— They probably should’ve had Shirase practice in front of the camera every single week leading up to the trip. I know it’s exaggerated for comedic effect, but look at her.
— H-hey! This is a no bully zone.
— Apparently, her mother used to bunk in the same room that Shirase and her friends are staying in now. But that was what? Years ago? I suspect they’ll end up finding something sentimental from the past anyway. Gotta give Shirase something. It’s not like she’s gonna find her mother alive in Antarctica.
— I’ve never heard of Fremantle until I started watching this anime. And unlike Singapore, we don’t get to see much of the city. I can only imagine that there isn’t much to see.
— Oh no, it seems the girls have practically turned into moe blobs from all the hard work.
— Oh hey, Shirase is back to being much taller than the rest.
— But now she’s not…? I get that she’s standing a little behind the other girls. And in the previous screenshot, she was standing a little in front of them, but that shouldn’t affect the height difference this much. The anime looks great 99% of the time, so this is just hilarious to me.
— Kanae says they’ve taken unprecedented precautions with safety… so… what are they? I’m just curious.
— I like how the show builds upon bits of character development from previous episodes. Last week, we saw Yuzuki’s penchant for sniffing out the truth. This week, she’s the only girl who is visibly annoyed by Kanae’s hopeful but deliberately vague speech about determination. I wonder if it’s because she may have had to deal with shady entertainment biz people, or maybe it’s just a part of her personality.
— How come everyone gets something to cover their hair except Hinata? Is it because her style kinda resembles how a kunoichi might look in pop culture?
— Look at these dorks.
— Very inconspicuous.
— That’s the attitude!
— There’s glow-in-the-dark paint beneath one of the top bunk beds. The girls wonder if it was left by Shirase’s mom. Who knows, but it wouldn’t hurt to believe.
— We still don’t really know what happened to Shirase’s mom. I guess they’re holding onto that bombshell for the final episode or two. Whatever it is, it’s going to be a real tearjerker.
— I know it’s a joke, but it’s also sad that Kanae has to remind everyone that these high school girls are definitely not legal.
— I really like the insert song during their introductions.
**Yes, I know the title is misspelled on Twitter and AnimeNano. I missed the typo until it was too late. Oh well.