[english translation of: The Great Passage, Anime: Worte und gähnende Menschlichkeit]
Kohei Araki has no choice. Due to the health of his seriously ill wife, he has to reduce his full-time employment at the Japanese publishing house Genbu Shobo to a minimum. He has been employed there for an eternity as head of the editorial department for dictionaries. At a joint meal he tells his old friend and colleague Professor Tomosuke Matsumoto of his decision. With a heavy heart, he promises to find an equal successor who conscientiously continues their joint project Daitokai. Through a chance encounter Masashi Nishioka, who also works in the team of Akari, notices the hopeless Genbu businessman Mitsuya Majime. Meanwhile, Majime fails miserably at his job as a consultant of existing customers and secretly hopes for a new perspective. Akari recognizes his talent for word-finding during a personal conversation and has him transferred to his department. Thus, the staff for the realization of Daitokai (freely translated: The Great Passage), a new Japanese dictionary that aims to provide people with an optimal basis for communication, has come together.
However, as the two mentors Matsumoto and Akari know, creating a dictionary is fraught with many challenges. It is tedious, requires extreme care, and costs a considerable amount of money. Add to this the relevance of individual destinies and the burden of existential issues, while the collective goal seems unreachable.
Words and yawning humanity
Action on the limit, visual stimuli to epileptic seizure and exaggerated comedy are now not only strategic success factors in the anime business. Luckily, the creators of The Great Passage (2016, Zexcs) completely ignored this memo, sticking to the mood of Shion Miura’s award-winning original, the novella Fune wo Amu (2011). Sometimes the things in life, which at first glance seem simple, banal and boring, are especially rich. And this is exactly the story of a book, which is to guide the shipwrecked Speechless of today as a symbolic boat safely on a sea of silence. It is about the pedantic work, the infinite passion for achieving a goal and the deep insights into the minds and emotions of the participating individuals.
The Great Passage is drab. Slow, free from tension and difficult. An animated series that does not hide behind a barrage of fan service, slapstick or the painful observance of pop-cultural laws of nature and only retains what is necessary to be able to tell a story decently. If the plot would make an even more authentic depiction, one could almost speak of a fictitious documentation due to the leaps in time. But the main focus is on the characters, in their search for finding themselves in their work and the influence of their private lives. The passion offered for a relentless zeal is bittersweet, because it is clearly stated that there is no end. If you can commit yourself to a cause with all your heart, then there is no time to rest except a sporadic weekend here and there. It remains questionable who really wins in this regard. The Japanese work ethic, which celebrates self-abandonment or their own integrity. For the topic of transience is also noted as an essential side note. But The Great Passage is a good read. Even a criticism of the political system finds its time in the conservative big picture, when the spiritual forefather of the project Matsumoto says that the government cares not about the culture of their own country and an important artifact, like a dictionary, therefore created by non-corrupt individuals should be an objective of pristine heritage. The biggest hurdle a viewer has to take is certainly the first episode in the series that fails to bring the actual qualities of the anime to the forefront. The reason for this is the archetypal introduction of the protagonist, which leaves one to the fear of a very average plot. The Great Passage is an absolute recommendation for those who can get excited about a story that lives from a long breath. This is reflected in an almost mundane and yawning humanity, but is therefore even more meaningful.
Year: 2016 _ Studio: Zexcs _ Based on: Shion Miura’s Fune wo Amu
© featured image: Zexcs