The Place Promised in Our Early Days
Type: Movie
Genre: Drama w/some Sci-fi
Version: Region 1 DVD
Reviewed: 1/15/06


Directed by the amazingly skilled Makoto Shinkai, The Place Promised in Our Early Days delivers a deep, heart-warming experience comparable to that of few other animated films.

Hiroki, Takuya, and Sayuri were innocent junior high students with a common, child-like dream: see what lies beyond that pretty tower in the distance. Everyone wants to do silly, seemingly pointless stuff like that when growing up. These kids had some serious drive and know-how though, even starting to build their own plane for this dream. But things were a lot more complicated than just finishing the plane and flying to the tower….

Early in the plane-constructing project (about 8th grade for the main cast), Sayuri has an odd sleeping sickness, for which she is transferred far away, to Tokyo. This and the increasing political unrest halts their project, and years pass until Hiroki finally finds out what happened to Sayuri. His discovery leads him to revive the project, for reasons no one ever expected.

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Fantastic directing, with animation to compliment

This story, while it doesn’t sound amazing in summation, keeps the viewer interested and is always told with the best of direction. Shinkai is truly a master of his craft, and The Placed Promised in Our Early Days demonstrates this well. The cinematography, camera angles, expressions on the characters–everything about the storytelling is done to perfection, especially during dream sequences. It’s always impressive when a film can really capture what a dream is like, and Early Days joins the ranks of the few and proud that pull it off.

The Place Promised in Our Early Days features an outstanding soundtrack full of sweet violin and piano tunes. It always matches the mood of the scene and adds to powerful delivery of emotion.

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The movie always does a great job of portraying emotions, especially lonliness…

While there are a few gunshots and some large group combat scenes, they in no way dominate the screen time, and this movie is not even close to being considered an “action” title. Those who want fast-paced fights, evil villains and superpowers will have to look elsewhere. There are some science fiction elements which get stronger near the film’s climax, but it’s mostly a drama flick. It should also be noted that this one is friendly for all audiences, containing only mild violence and no sexual situations.

This reviewer has found a new favorite animated film with The Place Promised in Our Early Days. It should be noted, then, that this reviewer is also a big softie and a sucker for great directing. Early Days packs an emotional story told as well as any other, with downright beautiful animation and cinematography, all complimented by pretty music and excellent voice acting in both English and Japanese. It’s easily the best new anime movie of 2005.

-Heath Hindman