What Shirase, Yuzuki, Hinata, and Mari Can Teach Us About Courage
Shirase Kobuchizawa is bad at a lot of things. She’s temperamental, socially awkward, clumsy, quick to anger, and extremely easy to embarrass. But she’s also brave, startlingly, wonderfully, stupidly brave. In fact, Shirase and her three friends, Mari, Hinata, and Yuzuki are full of a tremendous courage, each in ways particular to their personalities and situations in life. Through their shared journey and individual struggles, A Place Further Than the Universe taught me something deeply important about facing life with bravery.
Shirase’s courage is loud and unconfined. It is ironclad and forces out anything or anyone that acts as an obstacle. After years of ignoring every single person who told her that her dreams were stupid and impossible, she actually made it to Antarctica. Despite every single thing in her life going against her, Shirase managed to travel thousands of miles, across multiple continents, to another hemisphere to reach the land where her mother disappeared, the place where her heart has been leading her for years. In one of the series’ most emotionally cathartic moments, Shirase touches down onto Antarctica with her own two feet and screams “In your face!” to everyone who ever doubted her. This is Shirase’s courage—a brash, uncontrollable fire that can’t be stopped. A force inside of her that drowns out all of the obstacles in her way and draws her forward, pushes her closer, bit by bit, toward her dreams. Courage is the engine behind Shirase’s progress, and through her story, we can all learn to dedicate ourselves fully to becoming a part of something bigger.
Shirase’s bravery may be what the plot hinges on, but the quieter courage of Yuzuki and Hinata teaches us how to face hardships in life in a completely different way. Before meeting the other three, Yuzuki’s life revolves completely around her career as a young celebrity. Shirase, Mari, and Hinata are the first friends she has ever had, and, from her awkward need for the terms of friendship to be outlined in a contract to her immediate crying at the girls’ birthday celebration for her, Yuzuki slowly learns how to open up to people and make beautiful, sparkling connections with them. Hinata, on the other hand, has been hurt so deeply by people in her past that she dropped out of school. Despite this, she was able to take the initiative to introduce herself to Shirase and Mari and ask to join their journey to Antarctica. Opening yourself up to another person is one of the scariest things in the world, especially when you’ve been scarred by making yourself vulnerable before. But Hinata and Yuzuki show that working past that fear is worth the risk. Even if there’s a chance you’ll get hurt, the incomparable beauty of sharing food with a friend, of staying up late talking to one another, of connecting with another human being on a basic level is worth any pain that may come from it.
It is Mari, though, who resonated with me the most. The series starts with Kimari living out her high school existence, quietly longing for something more. Her life has been a steady, peaceful stream of going with the flow, never pushing the boundaries or stepping out of line. She tries to skip school one day to do something, anything that will bring her a new experience, but she loses her nerve and ends up right back at school. It is through Shirase, that Kimari finds her own bravery—this bold, headstrong force of nature just appears in her life and Kimari can’t help but be swept along with her. Hearing Shirase’s story is what finally hardens her resolve. Through making a deep and immediate connection with someone, through falling in love with her passion and her story, she is able to surpass her own fears and limitations. In Shirase, Kimari finds her own courage and is able to, for the first time in her life, forge a path all her own.
I’m not a very courageous person. In fact, in a lot of ways, I’m actually a pretty big coward. Standing up for myself has always been something I’ve struggled with, and I’m often pretty hesitant to try new things. Going with the flow and trying not to upset things has been a pretty consistent guiding philosophy in my life. But Kimari showed me that even someone who is scared of living without a plan, someone who fixates on what could go wrong, someone who always chickens out at the last minute… even someone like me could do something brave.
It’s characters like this that can teach us that there’s always a chance to make your life into something extraordinary and beautiful, you just need to take that first courageous step of opening yourself up to the possibility of something bigger. A Place Further Than the Universe reminded me that there’s a whole big beautiful world out there that’s ready to be explored. You just need to look inside yourself and find your own special courage. Shirase, Yuzuki, Hinata, and Kimari all pushed past their own limits and made it to a wild and beautiful place, somewhere few people have ever set foot, and through their dreams, maybe we can learn how to chase our own.
Cayla Coats is the Editorial Programming Coordinator for Crunchyroll and VRV. Here is her Twitter!