Kumo no mukô, yakusoku no basho (The Place Promised in Our Early Days) Reviews
The one thing I love about The Place Promised is how the story unfolds, because it's unlike any other film I've ever seen. What starts off as a sweet tale of these 3 kids keeping a promise that they will go and see this incredibly tall tower that's present in the film in their plane, the bela cielo, eventually evolves into something quite unexpected to say the least, but I don't want to ruin that for you.
This turn in the story creates an intense and very emotional climax that felt very satisfying. It was a bittersweet ending that really worked for me.
The animation was also fantastic, but if you're familiar with any of Shinkai's films, that's no surprise as his use of lighting, detail and ultra-realism in his animation is always spectacular.
The characters, while nothing phenomenal or incredibly well developed, were still likeable and I wanted to see them fulfil their promise of reaching the tower.
While the film probably could have explained some things a little bit more, such as the whole divide between the north and south regions of Japan, it didn't really bother me too much as that wasn't the focus of the film. The emotional aspect was at its heart and that worked very well for me.
Overall, I love the story, ambition, originality, animation, emotion and final act to this film. It's not perfect, but it's a film that I thoroughly enjoyed and the Blu-Ray has been released here in the U.K. so I'm looking to receiving it for Christmas and re-watching it over the holidays.
After which, "The Place Promised in Our Early Days" jumps ahead seven years. And what I had initially thought of as a movie about the near future(unless I missed something), becomes something much more interesting and weirder in simultaneously taking on the topics of dreams and parallel realities, in this case a plausible sounding one where Japan like Korea and Germany is divided after World War II. So while this is the rare science fiction movie, albeit an animated one, that is truly evocative, it also proves that alternate realities can be just as headache inducing as time travel and I mean that as the highest compliment. Now, if the ending had only made a little more sense...
Conceptually, this was pretty interesting-- the idea about parallel universes is always an intriguing subject and to connect that theory with something as commonplace and ordinary as dreaming and de ja vu, is just so clever and the science behind the whole film seemed plausible. The idea that one universe can take the place of another is simply fascinating. The secondary story regarding the effects of the impending war on the residents of the island was also interesting: how families have been torn apart or one-time friends being forced to choose sides. The ideas for the stories were all good; unfortunately, the way it was animated and interpreted was odd and a little convoluted, which made watching the movie and trying to figure out what was happening confusing. This was kind of sad too; maybe it was supposed to seem more uplifting by the end but it was just too difficult to follow that I was just glad it ended by the end and checked on Wikipedia if what I think happened, actually happened.... either that, or its been so long since I watched anime that my brain is no longer in tune with the anime mentality.