Based on Miura Shion’s novel of the same name, KUROYANAGI Toshimasa created an animation with meticulous visual imagery. The story tells of publishing house Genbu Shobo’s long journey in editing the midsize Japanese dictionary called “Dai to Kai” (The Great Passage). The main characters are Majime Mitsuya, who is unable to express himself well but has a keen grasp of language, and Nishioka Masashi, who has excellent communication skills but little insight into language. The story focuses on the growth of these two characters while depicting their interactions with other people around them. KUROYANAGI Toshimasa succeeds in providing incisive portraits of the characters while remaining true to the book’s world view, which has now been developed in multiple mediums. The images of the “ocean of words” over flowing with words and the Ferris wheel that continues to quietly rotate produce memorable scenes. He utilizes techniques only possible in animation to convey the main characters’ emotions using the entire screen, including voice and background.
KUROYANAGI’s careful production, relying on straightforward, orthodox methods, draws out the best from the original work, which won the Japan Booksellers’ Award. The growth and friendships that develop between the main characters as they work on the dictionary are heartwarming, and KUROYANAGI’s is skilled in depicting human nature. The drawing and art matching the relaxed style, the deep-focus artwork, low-key image shots, and pleasant displays of erudition support this warm story and the words it weaves. While the characters are less eshed-out and lack some of the warmth of the book and movie version, this is also a style all of its own, and the television version succeeds in creating a world view. I enjoy maverick productions as well, but this orthodox production was refreshing. (NISHIKUBO Mizuho)