Youth is said to be an adventure, and anime can occasionally capture ideas of youth quite well. A Place Further Than the Universe is a slice-of-life anime series from Madhouse with writing and production from creators of shows like K-On!, Steins;Gate, Nichijou and Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi.
The first episode, entitled “One Mwillion Yen For Youth” (‘Million’ is misspelled in the actual title; I’m not sure why but if anyone knows, please comment below) follows a 2nd-year high school student named Mari Tamaki who longs for adventure but can never bring herself to take the leap, always backing out at the last minute with a new excuse every time. Everything changes, however, after a serendipitous encounter with a strange girl at a train station. This mystery student dashes past her and in her rush drops an envelope containing one million Yen! Mari, who picks the envelope up and unable to resist peeks inside. Mari is immediately met with a giant moral dilemma. Resolving to do the right thing, she finds and returns the money to the strange girl, named Shirase, and through their new friendship it is discovered this detached young woman has been saving money for years to travel to Antarctica to search for her missing mother. In the end, Mari resolves to join Shirase and they embark on a spontaneous and probably dangerous journey to one of the harshest environments on Earth. The first episode ends as the two teenagers embark on a barge to begin their long journey across the ocean to a moving score.
From what I can tell so far from this 23-minute introduction is A Place Further Than the Universe is a light drama that has a lot of warmth. I think, however, this series is going to lean more towards the teenage girl demographic than my taste can really endure. That isn’t inherently a bad thing, but I doubt there will be much to relate or attach to for me here. I did enjoy the gentleness of the first episode though, the animation quality is top-notch (as to be expected considering it is a Madhouse production), and the opening to the series is also pretty good. I will definitely give the next few episodes a watch, hoping things pick up a bit more. However, if you are already a fan of saccharin, girlish charm, you will probably like this one more than me.