Kanae Maekawa (前川 かなえ Maekawa Kanae) is one of the co-founders of the Antarctic Challenge Foundation, and is vice-captain of their most recent expedition.
Not much is known about Kanae prior to the events of A Place Further Than the Universe, other than the fact that she was already acquainted with Gin Tōdō and Takako Kobuchizawa by the time they discovered that the Japanese government were going to sell their existing Shirase icebreaker ship and Showa Station after decommissioning them for newly-built Antarctic stations and a new icebreaker ship. Gin, Takako and Kanae eventually launched the Antarctic Challenge Foundation after successfully bidding for the icebreaker ship and Showa Station. Kanae was part of the expedition that departed for Antarctica three years prior to the events of the story, that returned from it without Takako. Her role in that expedition is unclear.
Kanae debuts in episode 2, in which she attends an informal Antarctic Challenge Foundation meet-up in Shinjuku with the other expeditioners that were confirmed to return. The meet-up is gatecrashed by Shirase Kobuchizawa and her friends, who then try to escape. Kanae chases after Shirase, as well as Mari Tamaki, and succeeds when they bump into their other friend, Hinata Miyake. She and Yumiko Samejima take the girls to a café; both tell Shirase once more that they can't take her along, and even refuse one million yen from her. After the girls leave, Kanae introduces Yumiko to Tamiko Shiraishi.
The girls eventually win their places on the expedition by befriending Tamiko's daughter. Thus, in episode 4, Kanae drives all four girls to the mountains for their four-day summer training camp, instructed by Gin. It is implied in episode 6 that Kanae was notified that the girls would be late due to an issue during transit.
Kanae welcomes the girls on board the Penguin Manju Go in episode 7, assigning them to their shared room and reminding them of the on-board protocol. She later admits to the girls that the expedition was indeed struggling with funding. The night before the voyage, Kanae hosts the welcome ceremony on board, and introduces the girls to the rest of the crew.
As the ship departs in episode 8, Kanae gathers the other 43 expeditioners and crew members for a photo shoot. During the voyage, the girls get seasick; Kanae notices this and tells the girls to rest up and eat properly, otherwise they might have to take IV drips and drop out of the expedition. At the end of episode 9, the ship reaches its destination. Kanae allows the girls to set foot on Antarctica. At the start of episode 10, Kanae gets on board the expedition's helicopter with the four girls, towards Showa Station to introduce them to its surroundings, as well as the girls' accommodation in a nearby hotel.
During the trip to the inland station in episode 12, Kanae and Gin supervise the four girls in snowcat 112 and assign them with tasks related to the restoration of the Kobuchizawa Observatory. In the final episode, Kanae takes the girls to an ice operation before taking part in the baseball game proposed by the girls on the day before they leave. Finally, she hosts the farewell ceremony for the girls before staying at Showa Station with the rest of the expedition members to witness the Aurora Australis during Antarctica's first night of the year.
- Kanae's surname Maekawa means "previous, before" (前) (mae) and "river, stream" (川) (kawa).