The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

The Place Promised in Our Early Days

Title: The Place Promised in Our Early Days aka Beyond the Clouds, The Promised Place aka Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho
Company: CoMix Wave Inc.
Genre: Drama
Format: Movie; 91 minutes.
Dates: 20 Nov 2004

Synopsis: One summer’s day, three middle school students, Fujisawa Hiroki, Shirakawa Takuya, and Sawatari Sayuri made a promise to one day fly across the Tsugaru Strait and investigate the mysterious tower built in Hokkaido by the Union. Since that day, Sayuri has disappeared and as a result Hiroki and Takuya gave up on building an airplane to fulfill the promise. Years later, when Hiroki learns that Sayuri is in a coma, he tries to convince Takuya to resume work on the airplane. Even if Hiroki can persuade Takuya, a looming war threatens to destroy any hope of ever reaching the mysterious tower.

The Highlights
Artwork: Reminiscent of Voices of a Distant Star, but better.
Plot: Takes the tried and true theme of “follow your dreams” and works well with it.
Setting: Could have used a little more explaining.
Pacing: Drags a little at times.

Shinkai Makoto has created another masterpiece in the wistful tale of childhood dreams, The Place Promised in Our Early Days. Unlike his previous anime creation, Voices of a Distant Star, which he created by himself on his iMac, The Place Promised in Our Early Days is a full-length feature. Even though Shinkai Makoto had an entire production team to help him create The Place Promised in Our Early Days, he was involved in almost every aspect of production. Due to this, The Place Promised in Our Early Days still has the same independent feel as Voices of a Distant Star despite its production.

The artwork is stylistically similar to Voices of a Distant Star, except that it is of much higher quality. Faded colors create an ephemeral atmosphere, and the slightly rough character designs make The Place Promised in Our Early Days feel like an independent art film. Completing the melancholy mood is the beautiful soundtrack by Tenmon that provokes feelings of nostalgia.

The Place Promised in Our Early Days is not lacking in plot, as is the case with many artistic films. The directing and screenplay can only be described as brilliant and makes the already interesting story much better. The ups and downs of the characters following their dreams while sometimes losing sight of who they really are is easy to relate to. The only complaint one can make about the story is the lack of explanation for the alternate timeline the characters live in, but Shinkai Makoto was out to create a heartfelt drama, not a science fiction tale.

The Place Promised in Our Early Days is a wonderful anime about following your dreams like Wings of Honneamise or Spirit of Wonder, and is just as good as either one. If Shinkai Makoto keeps making movies like this one, we may find ourselves saying, “Miyazaki who?”

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Kuma

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