Review: The Great Passage

We just finished re-watching this series, which is about a literary man miscast in a sales career, who is drafted into his dream job of editing and creating a new dictionary. It spans 15 years and the lives and growth of him and his co-workers.

The series was a novel, then a live-action film, and made into anime where I found it. It is beautifully drawn and full of passion… for language and meaning. It is an emotional refuge for viewers who have long concealed for social reasons, how much they care about thought and understanding. A chance to let down and enjoy for thirteen episodes the idea that language matters.

The series is full of characters I like, and situations I can relate to. In one, Majime and his semi-retired boss Araki visit the ailing foundational scholar who inspired them, and find that he does not have long to live. They are almost finished with the years-long project, and want desperately to place the perfected volume into his hands before he dies. But can they?

Majime may be on the autism spectrum, though this is not mentioned in the series, and he depends on his friend Nishioka for social guidance. But the project is not popular with company brass, and Nishioka is transferred against his will into the publisher’s PR department. He will not abandon his friends in the Dictionary department however, and supports them every way he can.

Anime is a style, not a genre. There are no spaceships, ghosts, no time travel, no high-school romance, no ancient curses, no athletic contests. While quietly funny (and a little bit romantic) in places, it is not a comedy, not a romance, or an action-story, just academic nerd entertainment.

  • Full series description on Wikipedia: The Great Passage
  • For a series with an amazing sound track, the moment of dead silence when Matsumoto dies is just devastating.
  • I couldn’t find an English trailer, but you can view the series on Amazon Prime with subtitles.

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Older technology guy with photography and history background