Hiroki Fujisawa and Takuya Shirakawa harbor admiration for two things in their life: their classmate Sayuri Sawatari and the vast Ezo Tower that stands boundlessly across the Tsugaru Strait. Fascinated by the limitless structure beyond their reach, Hiroki and Takuya begin constructing an aeroplane from a fallen drone they discovered—naming it the Bella Ciela—to fulfill their dream of one day reaching the sky-scraping top of the tower. Later joined by the girl they love, Hiroki and Takuya promise Sayuri to fly with her to the seemingly otherworldly top together. However, Japan has suffered a North-South partitioning that has fueled conflict near the base of the tower, which marks the border between the America-controlled Southern islands and the Northern lands occupied by the Soviet Union.
Further along, Sayuri suddenly disappears, and Hiroki and Takuya never see her again. Unbeknownst to them, she fell victim to a sleeping disorder that left her comatose for the past three years. Although Hiroki and Takuya later learn about Sayuri's condition, they also discover that the girl's unconscious state is oddly linked to the same tower the trio had promised to conquer together.
The Place Promised starts out with a very tranquil slice of life setting, but don't get fooled by first appearances. It soon takes on a more dramatic tone, with a sense of sci.fi. over it too, depending on which of the two male leads' story it's currently following. With the dreams of the female lead poppign in here and there, you have three fantastic story which grabs you on a deep, emotional level, and it all ends with blending the three together in one splendid end scene, which I'll remember a long time.
The characters in The Place Promised are fantastic, deep and lifelike. Note the
latter; they're lifelike. They're just normal kids going through all this, and that helps you to connect with them, you feel like you want them to achieve their dream from the bottom of your heart.
The artwork is a marvel. I'm completely astounded by its quality, especially the lighting and shading, which helps set the tone of the movie; calm, yet dramatic. Background artwork and overall quality are both top-level, so that alone is something to look forward to.
The music is pretty good; some sad and becalming themes blends right into the whole tone of the movie, and they are overall very good.
I enjoyed the movie a great lot, especially because of how you connect with the characters, but also because it presents a mood that is very sad, yet calm. Everything was so peaceful, I felt, even during the short action-packed scenes, and the final scene of the movie was very becalming and very peaceful.
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Makoto Shinkai's first feature-lengthed work - The Place Promised in Our Early Days.
Story: Just like Voices in a Distant Star and 5 Centimeters Per Second, this is a story about 2 people and their distances. Unlike Voices where their distance is that of time and space, Place Promised is about their distance across dimensions/dreams/reality. What I like about this concept is how well Shinkai presented it. Sayuri (our heroine) is physically in the world, but spiritually trapped in another. It is very touching to see Hiroki (our hero) search for Sayuri knowing that she is very close yet at the same time very far away
from him. While the whole together->separation->search part of the story exciting to watch, the sci-fi/war part felt a little boring. I can understand having that part in the story since we are dealing with the concept dimensions, but it felt a little out of place and it took away from the whole experience.
Animation: This is one of the stronger points in this movie. The animation is absolutely gorgeous. There are two things that make this movie incredibly beautiful. The first is the background and the use of colors. The background really speaks to you with its detail and vibrant colors. You can really feel the depth and it is really moving. The other part of the animation that makes it gorgeous is the lighting effects. It is carefully used to emphasize those "key" moments in the movie. It really gives you one of those "whoa" moments where it pushes you back into your seat.
Sound: Tenmon is a genius. In order to bring out the emotions of a movie, the BGM is key and Tenmon delivers. The BGM is beautiful and fun to listen to. Also, the score played by Hiroki and Sayuri on the violin is incredible. The only thing lacking in the sound department is an amazing theme song. Kimi no Koe feels a little weak in comparison to the BGM and it failed to capture my attention.
Character: There is nothing really special about the main characters. You can say that they're normal. But perhaps thats the appeal of it. Watching these kids grow and become more resolve is an enriching experience. There is nothing special about the supporting characters as well.
Overall, it was a very good movie and an excellent follow up to Voices. I am definitely looking forward to finishing up 5cm per Second.
I watched Makoto Shinkai’s first major work, Hoshi no Koe (Voices of a Distant Star) a year before watching this. Hoshi no Koe was nothing short of breathtaking. The animation, pacing, and plot were all top notch and even more surprising, it was essentially done by one person. After way too many delays, The Place of Promise in Our Early Days was finally released.
My initial impression was, ohh pretty. The animation was fantastic; everything was clean, crisp, and vivid. Although, sometimes a bit too clean, crisp, and vivid. This is especially true for the interior
backgrounds. I think of a brand new shinny kitchen appliance with I see some of the interior backgrounds. However, the "nature" shots didn't give me that impression. Overall, the animation was very beautiful and well done.
As for the music....well it was pretty good, as expected of Tenmon however, it really didn’t stand out.
The rest however, doesn't really fare as well. As I watching I couldn't help get the feeling that he was trying to do the same thing he did with Hoshi no Koe. Hoshi no Koe was 30 min short exploring the theme of "long distance love." Being a short film it really didn't have much of a plot, nor did it attempt to. The Place of Promise in our Early Days on the other hand seemed like it was going to explore a theme like Hoshi no Koe did yet the same time try to tell a concrete story. This produced a horribly paced movie. First its going nice and slow producing this calm nostalgic feel. Then things move too fast and you're wondering what happened. Essentially the pace is too fast and too slow all at once. The movie should have only been 50 minutes at most. Interestingly enough was what was originally planned out to be. I felt this was a very good 50 min OVA, then scenes were made longer and added extra stuff (ie the sci-fi stuff) to make this mediocre 90 min movie.
Because of the lack of focus the characters suffered quite a bit. Their relationships weren’t explored enough nor did I feel there was any depth to them. In addition, I wasn’t convinced of the love between Sayuri and Hiroki. Once again they didn’t spend enough time on the characters.
The Place of Promise in our Early Days is a beautifully animated film with lush and vivid detailed. However, it sometimes suffers from being too clean and vivid, giving it that new shinny kitchen appliance look. The music was excellent but not memorable. The Place of Promise in our Early Days suffer fatally from its poor pacing that makes the movie feel too fast and too slow at the same time.
This film gets 5/10, because it's almost exactly one half of a perfect film.
Let's start with the good parts and get them over and done with. The artistry is outstanding. Sound design is great. Character animation is only average, but that's plainly not the creator's focus so that doesn't matter. You can write pages and pages on how painterly Shinkai's work is, how any single frame of the film can be picked out and put on the wall as a work of genuine art.
A film needs more than that to be an actual film. It needs a story, and believable characters, and this is where
the film really falls down. The primary motivations, and actions of the characters may be convenient for framing the scenes Shinkai shows us, but on closer examination, simply fails to make sense.
Let's pick out one character. Okabe, the mentor to our main protagonists. We learn that he was separated from his family in Ezo by the separation, which led to him becoming a terrorist leader to fight the Union. So, his whole plan then is to strike at the Tower. Then when the heroes come to him, he lets them fly the missile and destroy the tower instead, after they show him their 'determination'.
How could a man whose entire life is lived due to the separation from his family agree to an operation which stands a high chance of destroying the entire world and by the end of the film, probably actually killed his entire family? That gigantic hole in Ezo isn't just for show. Why would he put everything into the single basket of the experimental plane built by a couple of highschoolers? Why can't they fly the UAV as well as the plane?
Look closely and the entire substance of the show is cardboard. Characters react to the start of WWII - with an unprovoked declaration of war by the US on the Union with total apathy, instead of, well, horror. The US declare war because of the Tower, but don't actually mount any direct attacks on it. The security on a classified research facility in which rests a woman whose staying asleep keeps the entire world in existence is surmounted by a single guy with a broken arm and a stolen keycard. The Union scientist who designed the tower decides for no apparent reason to make a device - at enormous expense - that will either destroy the world, or send his granddaughter into a coma, *and then* destroy the world when she dies.
Look at the frames of this film, and you're notice an interesting thing. The characters are rarely in the middle of the image. They flit in and out, hang around the peripheries, slanted or small. Sometimes their voices are silenced. Sometimes they just aren't there at all. It's like they are just guests, lucky children given a chance to play with the director's fabulous fabulous toys.