Anime Review: The Place Promised in Our Early Days

Screen captures of Place Promised in Our Early Days

Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho/ Beyond the Clouds, The Promised Place

Aka The Place Promised in Our Early Days

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Japanese Premiere: Nov 2004

US Premiere: May 2005

“I always have a feeling that I’m losing something” – Sayuri Sawatari.

The Place Promised in Our Early Days is a blend of romantic fairy tale and science-fiction set in a parallel reality of post-WWII Japan. In this reality, Japan is split up, with one section controlled by “the Union” and the other controlled by the United States. An everpresent mystery is the role of a tower that stretches as high up as far as the eye can see, designed by an engineer with a crucial relationship to one the main characters.

As the story begins, two junior high boys, Takuya and Hiroshi, are making plans for the summer. They spend much of their time rebuilding an old airplane that they discovered using money, parts, and advice from their summer job at a munitions plant.

They befriend the shy Sayuri, another junior high student, and they make a promise to fly together to the strange tower once they complete the airplane. One day, without telling anybody, Sayuri stops visiting and the Takuya and Hiroshi gradually lose interest in their project and drift apart. Years later, just as tensions between the Union and the United States escalates into warfare, Takuya discovers through a dream the whereabouts of Sayuri, and seeks out Hiroshi to make good on the promise that they had made to each other that distant summer day…

Screen capture of Place Promised in Our Early Days

What makes this movie stand out are its landscapes and scenery. Makoto Shinkai knows a lot about visual mood: each scene has just the right balance of movement, brightness, and scale to evoke emotion. Tranquility and warmth mark much of the first part of the movie, followed by the loneliness and cold of the second part.

While its clear that war preoccupies the adults in this movie, The Place Promised in Our Early Days is really centered on the relationships between the youth. It’s difficult for me to say whether this movie has a a political message regarding war. Inexplicably, the main characters seem to have no parents and the plot does not provide enough background information on them or on the particulars of the war for an audience to sympathize with a particular side. You’ll have to watch it to make your own interpretation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: