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.