In an alternate history of the aftermath of World War II, Japan has been cleaved in half, with the south—Honshu and the other islands—allied with the United States and the northern island Hokkaido annexed by the enigmatic Union. It was on Hokkaido that a mysterious tower had been built, a strand of metal reaching up out of the atmosphere, visible from the northern tip of Honshu. In 1996, three teenagers, Hiroki, Takuya and Sayuri, make a pact—they will build an experimental aircraft, almost invisible to surveillance, cross over to Hokkaido and unlock the secrets of the tower. Their dream was never realized, because Sayuri was sent to Tokyo for treatment after she fell into a coma. It is now three years later. The rosy illusions of youth have fallen away, but not the unbreakable strength of the trio’s promise. The truth of the tower will be uncovered, and with it, the link between it and Sayuri’s mysterious, carefully tended condition.
The manga adaptation of 'The Place Promised in Our Early Days' is a rather poor one at that, to state this plainly. While its retelling of the narrative is rather shoddy, the artstyle and characterization is almost as good as, if not as good as, the original movie's.
[Story - 5]
While the film was able to (almost) pull off telling the story of 3 childhood friends and their reunion through uncertain circumstances, the manga barely achieved it. It covers 2/3 of the events, so unfortunately we don't get a perfect resolution to the arcs of both the 3 protagonists and the overall story. The world-building is
sub-par, but does the job, and the monologuing is still written with tons of competence.
[Art - 8]
The artstyle, however, does the source material justice! It may not perfectly replicate the movie's artwork due to being in a B&W printed format, but the artist does an amazing job utilizing a colour palette of varying tones of greys, blacks, and whites to give a 'sad/moody' tone. Character design still isn't the best here, but I personally didn't mind since the same goes for the movie.
[Character - 6]
The characterization here can be really hit-or-miss. While I admire that they harped more upon the 'slice of life' elements for the 2 male protagonists (Hiroki + Takuya), I wish that Sayuri received more characterization outside of being The Childhood Crush Of Hiroki Who Has Narcolepsy - it's even /less/ than in the original movie! Hiroki's angst, while well-written and provoking, is too overbearing sometimes. Takuya still gets a sizable amount of panels to showcase his stoic but hurting self, but it feels a bit more shallow due to the amount of chapters this adaptation got. Outside of those 3, everyone else is even /less/ memorable.
[Enjoyment/Overall - 4/6]
As someone who REALLY enjoyed the movie and was intrigued to see how Shinkai could have adapted this into a print format, I was rather let down. I still enjoyed myself due to my familiarity with the original work, along with the artwork being a saving grace, but I wouldn't recommend this to anyone (whether they be a fan of the movie, Shinkai's works, or just a passerby).