Mari, a high school student, has always dreamed of doing something special; as a notebook she wrote at the start of her time as a high schooler proclaims, she wants to “go on a journey without a plan”. That was over a year ago, and she’s still the model middle-of-the-road student, never skipping classes but not doing anything out of the ordinary either. Try as she might, she can’t muster up the courage to make a big change. Fortunately for her, that’s when she bumps into Shirase, a fellow schoolmate laser-focused on her own dream – going to Antarctica, and soon, to see one of the most remote places on Earth for herself (and to chase after her mother, who was lost long ago in an expedition and never found). Mari decides to encourage her, but Shirase tells her she’s had others do the same, only to lose interest. If Mari really wants to help, she’ll join Shirase. And, finally taking courage, she joins Shirase on a real (if short) trip – halfway across the country to see a Japanese icebreaker ship that’s on display to the public.
There’s a lot to like in Sora your mo Tooi Basho, and it’s good to see the characters themselves form a solid foundation. Mari may have trouble finding motivation, but she knows it, recognizes it, talks about it with her friend. She’s been where we’ve all been at some point – wanting a change, feeling like we’re in a rut, and yet held back by the comfort of our routines. That and she really hates getting up in the morning.
Shirase, meanwhile, is the kind of driven person most of us aren’t – she researches Antarctica and spends all her time not in school working to save money to accomplish her dream. Even here, though, the show sidesteps the clichés – she might be serious and focused much of the time, but she still has a sense of humor and is able to enjoy downtime with Mari on their trip.
From the outset, I might have expected Mari to be the listless klutz character that gets dragged along on the trip, acting surprised and complaining whenever there’s hardship, and Shirase to be the cold, emotionless character who drags Mari along heedless of her pleas. And that’s absolutely not who these characters are; in a single episode they’re already quite a bit more textured, interesting, and real, for lack of a better word, than that. I’m looking forward to seeing where these two go.
Especially as the show promises they’ll be going to Antarctica. There’s a bit of mystery in the show that I’m looking forward to seeing resolved – how ARE these two high school students, with a decent amount of money but zero experience or connections to any governmental or research institutions, going to get to Antarctica anyway? Shirase seems to have a plan, and it should be interesting to see how it goes, because the show seems pretty well-grounded in reality. From the bits and pieces we get in this episode, it looks like the show’s creators have done their homework, having the character look over maps and pictures that look fairly legit.
Heck, their first trip isn’t to try to fly a plane there, or try some disastrous scheme to get there in some small boat, it’s to go look at an icebreaker and get some perspective on what kind of equipment is required to get to such a harsh and remote region. A Wandaba Style-style moonshot this is not. So I’m intrigued to see where we’ll go from here, and interested to get to learn something about Antarctica alongside our already pretty compelling cast, which the show’s opening theme song promises to double.