Monday, June 22, 2009

Review: The Place Promised in our Eearly Days

Alternative Title: 雲のむこう、約束の場所, Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho
Genre: romance, sci-fi
Release Date: Nov. 20, 2004
  • Hidetaka Yoshioka as Hiroki Fujisawa
  • Masato Hagiwara as Takuya Shirakawa
  • Yuuka Nanri as Sayuri Sawatari
Japan is divided into two parts after the second World War. One part of Japan, Hokkaido, was taken over by an organization named “Union”, while the rest of Japan is occupied by the United States. After the separation, a mysterious tower was constructed at Hokkaido. In the summer of 1996, three high school students make a promise that they would build an airplane and fly to the tower. While the student are preparing for their adventure, the two parts of Japan edge closer to war as the US tries to unravel the mystery concerning the tower.


Animation: Like Makoto Shinkai’s newer movie, 5 Centimetres per Second, the animation in this movie is absolutely breathtaking. It was released in 2004, but the animation is some of the best I’ve seen. The lighting is very realistic and there’s a great amount of detail in just about everything in the movie. Every single frame in this movie is beautiful. Even when the movie shows a torn down warehouse, all the lighting effects and detail make it irresistible to stare at. Just take a look at the sceenshots and see for yourself.

Poetic script: The script in this movie is very poetic and well-thought. Sure, most of it doesn’t really progress the story, but it is sometimes very touching to listen to and it adds a lot to the emotion to the scene.


Sci-fi, romance…scimance: This movie blends sci-fi with romance, but it doesn’t focus of any one genre, leaving me wishing it did. The sci-fi segments were very loosely explained, creating some confusion about the story. The characters rarely mention the conflict between the two parts of Japan and we mostly learn more about the conflict through short TV messages. Some of the technology seen in the movie looked really interesting, but it’s not explained enough to keep your interest. Also, the romance part of the movie wasn’t really completed. I expected a bit more to happen in terms of the romance sub-plot

Get’s a bit confusing 30 min in: After watching about 30 minutes, the story suddenly flashes forward 3 years and you’re pretty much dropped into a setting which you know nothing about. By the end of the movie, you sort of get the main point of the story, but you’ll probably be still confused about some parts of the story, especially the stuff about the tower. In addition, I wish the movie spent more time explaining what happened to the main characters in those 3 years that we know little about.

Slow-placed story: I also thought the story was a bit slow-paced. There are many scenes showing one of the characters just poetically talking to themselves about life. However, the superb animation and the script sort of make up for those otherwise boring scenes.

There wasn’t enough sci-fi to satisfy sci-fi fans and there’s wasn’t enough romance to satisfy romance fans. However, just taking the animation into consideration, I recommend this movie to everyone.

Rating: 8/10

Video Preview
Here’s a short 1 min. spoiler-free trailer. Note that I had to cut out parts from the original trailer because it had some major spoilers. It actually explained pretty much the whole story!

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