The Place Promised in our Early Days

Having loved Makoto Shinkai's 5 cm per Second (Canada, USA, Europe) to such a degree, it was well nigh impossible for me not to make my next japanese animated feature The Place Promised in our Early Days. Said to be a great and heartbreaking, I couldn't really go wrong.

As was the case with Shinkai's latest, I couldn't find the DVD at any video store around here. And since I didn't want to go downtown to get a membership at a specialty video store, well I elected to watch it on the internet. By the way, I still can't understand how these movies can be so cheap on A version dubbed in English can be found on YouTube, but the picture quality left a little to be desired. I would have watched it there, but I found a better picture quality on the streaming site Now, to all you anime maniacs out there, could you tell me which streaming sites are the best? Every time I log on to one, my McAfee Site Advisor goes on red alert, and I'm not to keen on ending up with a virus or spyware. . . seemed to be safe enough, but I'd like to get the lowdown on the best places to visit for such animated movies.

I have to say that I'm more than a little surprised by the fact that all five japanese animated features I've seen thus far were of such quality. Okay, so all of them figure on the Top 25 anime movies of all time list that Adam posted in the comment section of one of the Miyazaki pieces. But I never expected to enjoy these films as much as I did. Let's just hope we can keep the streak alive! One thing's for sure: The Place Promised in our Early Days ranks right up there with the others, though it's not as touching as 5 cm per Second. Yet this one will be extremely hard to beat. . .

Set in an alternate history Japan, The Place Promised in our Early Days takes place in the late 90s. In 1974, Japan underwent the Separation: the southern part, including the main islands of Honshū and Kyūshū, were occupied by the United States, while the northern island, Hokkaidō (or Ezo, as it is called in the movie), was occupied by the "Union" (presumably referring to the Soviet Union). Also in that same year, the Union began the construction of a strange tower on Hokkaido designed by a scientist named Ekusun Tsukinoe. On a clear day, the incredible height of the tower makes it visible from as far away as Tokyo.

The movie focuses on two boys, Hiroki and Takuya, and a girl named Sayuri. All three are fascinated by the Hokkaido Tower visible across the Tsugaru Strait to the north. Then one day, the boys find a crashed drone plane. Naming it the Bella Ciela, they work on rebuilding the plane, scrounging parts from the military factory where they work, with the help of their boss, Mr. Okabe. The three teenagers promise to one day fly to Hokkaido to visit the Tower. However, before they can do this, Sayuri mysteriously disappears during the summer.

Three years later, Takuya and Hiroki have stopped working on the plane, having taken different paths after the grief they suffered at Sayuri's disappearance. Takuya is now working as a physicist at an Alliance scientific facility sponsored by the United States' National Security Agency, researching parallel universes (per the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics). They know that the Hokkaido Tower, which began operating in 1996, replaces matter around it with matter from other universes. Takuya becomes involved with the Uilta Liberation Front after he learns that Mr. Okabe is its leader.

Sayuri is revealed to have been hospitalized over the past three years, having developed an extreme form of narcolepsy; she has been sleeping continuously for most of the three years. Her mind is trapped in an unpopulated parallel universe, where she is all alone. It was discovered that she is somehow connected to the Union's research into parallel universes and the Hokkaido Tower's ability to change the surrounding land into alternate possibilities.

Hiroki has moved to Tokyo where he attends high school. He is haunted by frequent dreams of Sayuri and suffers from depression, leading a miserable and lonely existence. A letter written by Sayuri before she became completely comatose eventually reaches him, giving him a lead to go looking for her.

Visually, this is another stunning movie. Which makes me sad I didn't get to see it in DVD-like picture quality. Makoto Shinkai seems to love to play with different lightings, moods, and settings. The Place Promised in our Early Days also explore the theme of young love, when impossible promises are made and every attempt is made to keep them. You could see how working on this movie led Shinkai to produce something like 5 cm per Second next.

Once again, the Tenmon soundtrack strikes a chord and can be heartbreaking. As was the case with the score for 5 cm per Second, this soundtrack adds layers of emotions to a work that is quite something. I'm definitely going to try to get my hands on these two soundtracks. Meanwhile, I couldn't resist and posted the violin theme from The Place Promised in our Early Days at the end of this piece. Almost as good as the piano theme from 5 cm per Second, and that's saying something!

If, like me, you are looking for quality animated features, this is another "can't miss!" Here's the trailer:

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

12 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

This was definitely a fantastic movie. It's too bad that it's mostly anime movies that get the budget and creativity to pull this kind of thing off. Most movies are just on a whole other level compared to series, and that is why many people find themselves suprisingly impressed with them.

In other news, that violin theme will be on continuous repeat for the next three days. I had totally forgotten how much I liked it.

I just want to say again that it is so cool you are featuring these movies. I'd been following the Hotlist for awhile when I got tied up with other issues. The post on 5cm per second reminded me how much I enjoyed coming here. Hopefully, I can be more active reading and ommenting here from now on.

Abalieno said...


Anonymous said...

Many japanese soundtrack composers certainly seem to have a knack for sweetness (for lack of a better word at the moment) and very colorful melodies.

Simeon said...

I didn't really like this one. It was amazingly beautiful, but practically plotless, and not atmospheric enough to compensate in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Did you see 5cm per second? Clearly that one seems to be more emotional (compare the music), so if you liked that one but you don't like this, then your opinion might even meet with mine, although I haven seen "Place Promised" yet and am still looking forward to it.

But I still like the seemingly "pointless" plotdevice of the mysterious tower very much. You can put almost everything into it symbolically, from its straight line, to its height, etc.

BTW, if people here like emotional anime soundtracks: Naruto isn't so bad in the aspect of music, although it's a rather generic franchise. Don't believe me? One example of several "sad" themes:

Anonymous said...

Hey Pat. Visit these sites:

Have you watched Berserk? It's a must watched epic medieval fantssy anime. The manga itself could be considered the genre's Lord of the Rings. You can read up to the latest chapter at or download it from :)

Also, since you seem to go for dramatic genre, the World Masterpiece Theatre Productions is a treasure trove of great animes. Start with The Dog of Flanders, Remi: Nobody's Boy, Romeo and the Black Brothers, then go from there. Remi might be hard to find since it's not available in english subtitles, fortunately for you, the french version seems to be in good supply. :D

Anonymous said...

Pat, please don't watch the versions that are dubbed into English. Seriously. The voice acting just cannot match the Japanese versions. Subtitled stuff shouldn't be so hard to find...

Anonymous said...

so glad you are enjoying some of the best japan has to offer. Other things you should watch:

to round out your makoto shinkai, voices of a distant star is short but devastastingly emotional- it was the original work that made him famous.

the girl who leapt through time-
a recently released movie a few years ago is also quite wonderful as well.

TV shows:
sadly its been a long time since I've watched one of superior quality. the companies that usually put out superior series are Production I.G. and Bones.

Last Exile is one of my favorite series to date- epic storyline, strong characters, jawdropping animation for its time, and a beautiful soundtrack. I think it is well worth your time.

And if you enjoy the music, I would look up Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno. Hisaishi scores all of Miyazaki's works and Yoko Kanno has won several awards for her soundtracks to popular TV series- she is very eclectic. Enjoy!

Abalieno said...

For anime movies I recommend Kappa no Koo.

It's like a Japanese E.T. splendidly realized.

Unknown said...

I agree with you. This is one of my favorite anime movies. Absolutely beautiful and emotionally complex.

But, you said all that needs to be said about why this one is so great.


I found Voices of A Distant Star had more impact than P. Promised.

I get a surprising number of the DVDs from my public library. Worth checking and you can do it online.

I watched Nausicaa yesterday and have The Girl Who .. waiting for pickup today at the library.

Nick said...

Online I've had pretty good luck with veoh, though there have been some problems where licensing issues have gotten whole series blocked out. The local library plug is a good one as well; I know my area has at least most of the Miyazaki films.

For an interesting SFF connection, look up Tales from Earthsea by Miyazaki's son Goro. There are issues that won't allow it on DVD in the US, but veoh has some copies.