Like every season of anime, Japan always features some high-tension quality anime and mix it with some… not so great anime. This season in particular was blessed with exciting entertainment like Haikyuu‘s third season and Jojo’s latest adventure with Josuke Higashita and paired with garbage like Getsuyobi no Tawawa (I implore you to not watch that, but if you’re interested, be my guest). Lying underneath all the eye candy is a quiet little series that is endearing, realistic, and scripted with so much anticipation that it can speak volumes on a superficially philosophic scale. Fune wo Amu (I’ll leave a link to the staff) takes the seemingly mundane effort of building dictionaries and transforms it into a quest that brings together all kinds of people.
Fune wo Amu opens up with a small dilemma with the dictionary publishing department: they need to hire people. And after a random happenstance between the department’s chief editor and a salesman, they find the right person for the job. This turns into a difficult journey to create the best dictionary Japan’s seen: The Great Passage.
Despite the thin summary, Fune wo Amu‘s strengths lie in the the way each character is built and how they express the importance of communication. By having two socially polar opposite characters paired in work, they understand each others’ personalities and how they can complement each other. Also having a work group that ranges in ages aids in the visualization of the knowledge they have; imagine the cast’s perspectives on a subject and a venn diagram connecting them. This play on perspectives build a small mystery behind one character for the other to solve through communication. Eventually by the end of the series I felt that the whole group acted and thought the same, building that sense of unity between the cast and the audience to a degree.
While dictionary publishing may seem uninviting at first, the well-scripted dialogue in tandem with direction and storyboards helped convey the passion behind the publication of their dictionary. From short scenes of pursed-lip frustration to silent and long scenes of patiently waiting, Fune wo Amu perfectly portrays the tension each character faces in a subtle and personal manner. It also employs the same techniques to show them earnestly building a collection of words as they share their perspectives on simple words like “course” or “karma”. The combination of the whole anime subtly involves the audience through invitation rather than forcing ideals upon you.
All in all, Fune wo Amu is a wonderful and calming watch. If you appreciate slice of life anime or anime like Mushishi or Natsume’s Book of Friends I highly recommend this. I hope this anime gets more praise and spotlight than it’s getting now. Thanks for reading and have a happy holiday season!