Hiroki, did that beautiful, white plane reach the tower?
If you ask me what are some of my most favourite anime movies, I would say The Place Promised in our Early Days. It is a poetic masterpiece with meaningful symbolism, foreshadowing, and imagery everywhere. It’s a wonderful film to analyze and critique, just like with Shinkai’s other movies, but The Promised Place is particularly so.
Let me give you a brief synopsis without trying to spoil you anything. Hiroki and Takuya, two hard-working middle schoolers, are best friends working towards a goal – building a plane left over from the war and flying it towards the mysterious, white tower that divides Japan from the rest of the world. Both boys admired two things: the white tower, and the heroine, Sayuri Sawatari, who befriends them. She and Hiroki and Takuya makes a promise together to fly the plane together when it is done and go to the tower. But after the summer of their third year in middle school, Sayuri mysteriously disappears.
I always have a premonition of losing something.
What did these mysterious words mean? In this movie, Makoto Shinkai made Sayuri very feminine by showing us screenshots of Sayuri’s very subtle movements. From her dainty fingers to her bare legs, to her puppy-like movements whenever she’s excited, Shinkai tried to emphasize the importance of her role in the story by making the audience grow to like her personality and qualities. Her sweet, innocent voice ringed like a bell and her conversations with the boys were endearing and cheerful. She was the centre of Hiroki’s and Takuya’s happiness in their last summer in middle school. Sayuri later takes an even more important role in the movie, and become a valuable figure in the conflict of the movie.
Makoto Shinkai treated Sayuri as of she’s almost a sort of goddess. She’s pure, kind, and the smile she gives Hiroki and Takuya comes as if it’s from an angel. The scene where Takuya gazes at Sayuri as they go home after school is an excellent example. The sunset shining behind Sayuri at twilight made her look beautiful and ephemeral. This scene looked as if a goddess was standing there before Takuya.
Despite negative reviews saying that the movie was “utterly slow” and that people were “bored to death”, I think it’s one of the most beautifully crafted movies I’ve ever seen. Makoto Shinkai masterfully pieced together story-telling techniques that are very noticeable if you look carefully. I invite you to try to critique and give a commentary on the literary devices and techniques seen throughout the entire movie. For those who never learned or had zero grasp on this subject in high school’s English class, I encourage you to try as well. What do you think the tower symbolizes in general in the movie? It can symbolize war, separation, beauty, or the unknown future. Where can you find foreshadowing of events in the movie? The thunder seen in the side of the sky when the trio walks home having fun after making their promise. Where was dramatic irony (remember this term)? Watching a movie this way is interesting and can be quite enjoyable, at least for me, and doing this can make you appreciate The Promised Place, or any movie, even more.
The Place Promised in our Early Days is sadly underrated, but I strongly encourage you to give it a chance. For me, watching it was an experience I will never forget. If you come from the your name hype, sadly, I would tell you not to watch it. But if you thoroughly liked 5 centimetres per second, you might find satisfaction in this slow, quiet, and beautiful movie. Do not come to watch for complete drama or to cry a waterfall of tears.
There is a little sci-fi, a little romance, a little action and fighting, some fantasy, and that’s just about it. But the backgrounds are oh-so-breathtaking and eye catching, which made up for it. There are finger clenching, quiet gasps, and some tears too. Like how Pachenel’s Canon is played, this movie builds up drama slowly. As the movie progress, the tension rises. At the same time, the movie becomes more dramatic but beautifully pieced and then, everything comes together for a bittersweet ending.
I highly recommend the dubbed version. The English voice acting conveys the character’s emotions so well that you might as well watch it so you can enjoy the backgrounds more. Come watch this moving sci-fi and fantasy movie for a meaningful and poignant experience.