Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Place Promised in our Early Days

Sorry for taking so long for the next on but I’ve been distracted by catching up with my summer reading and watching. I’ve knocked out quite a bit, but I still got allot to go. But I’ve finally decided to take the time to concentrate on doing this review.

As promised in my last post I’ll be reviewing the Makoto Shinkai classic, The Place Promised in Our Early Days. I’ve been looking forward to doing this review ever since I saw the movie. This was actually my first Shinkai experience and it is what got me hooked on his works. The reason why this movie caught my attention so much is because it’s such a unique anime. And the reason why it’s so unique is because of Shinkai’s unique directing, writing, and animation.

The Place Promised in our Early Days tells the story of a young group of friends who are captivated by a strange tower that dominates the sky line. The three friends (Hiroki Fujisawa, Takuya Shirakawa, and Sayuri Sawatari) share the same dream of one day flying to that tower. But this dream seems impossible because the world is split by countries preparing for war, and the tower lies on the other side of the battle lines. But this doesn’t stop them; they begin construction on an air plain that will take them to their promised place. But when Sayuri goes missing with out a word they lose focus and hope. Now 3 years later war is soon to begin and the secret of what happened to Sayuri is revealed. It’s truly an emotional story that pulls on the heart strings again and again. One of the interesting things about the story line is the pace at which it occurs. The story seems to just gradually progress with one event after another piling on top of each other. But then out of no where the story hits the climax like a brick wall and suddenly seems to validate all of those events at once. The suddenness of the climax seems to make the emotional aspect of the story that much more powerful.

Through out the cores of the movie we see stunning animation that seems to leave you breathless. Every piece of animation seems to flow together seamlessly and isn’t forced at all. The movements are so fluid and life like that it’s hard to not just lose your self staring at it. But of course this is to be expected from Shinkai. In the interview with Shinkai on the DVD he mentions that it’s because he was able to work with Ushio Tazawa, and Takumi Tanji that he was able to pull more out of his work. He also said that when Ushio Tazawa was working on character design he said that his job was to re-create the “Shinkai Style”. Ushio ended up using the basics of the character designs from Voices of a Distant Star to create the main characters for this movie.

Another interesting fact revealed in the interview with Shinkai is that he used the actor Hidetaka Yoshioka as a base inspiration for the character Hiroki. The ironic thing is that Hidetaka later ended up being the voice actor of Hiroki. The voice actor who played Takuya (Masato Hagiwara) also seems to be mainly a live action actor. The English cast is mostly made up of voice actors who don’t have allot of lead rolls under their belt, but they put out a quality dub non the less.

In the end I have to say that this is a very powerful and entertaining movie that can be appreciated by all anime fans. Makoto Shinkai has a way of making powerful movies that can manage to touch the hearts of even the most seasoned otakus. I highly recommend this movie to anyone and every one. Currently this movie is available at rightstuf.com for $22.49. This is a must see movie for all anime fans so I suggest that you go out and buy it now. But if you don’t feel like buying something you haven’t seen yet I would point out that it is available through many other legal sources such as Netflix, The Anime Network online, and Crunshyroll. So go out there and watch it already!

Next time I will not be continuing my Makoto Shinkai reviews. As a personal rule I try to only review things that I have a hard copy of (besides MxO). Unfortunately I don’t own 5 Cm Per Second or Voices of a Distant Star yet. So this means I’ll have to postpone those reviews for now. But in it’s place I’ll be talking about my favorite manga series ever, 20th Century Boys. So look forward to that.