The Place Promised in Our Early Days (Kumo no Mukō, Yakusoku no Basho)

[A couple of spoilers in this one]*.

There are a few Makoto Shinkai works I haven’t seen so far but I’m still comfortable placing this film somewhere between ‘not my favourite of his’ and ‘still beautiful’ though I’m not sure how useful those descriptors are re: ranking.

The Place Promised in Our Early Days (Kumo no Mukō, Yakusoku no Basho) 2004

And maybe they’re not at all… so I’ll be more specific – basically, I was transfixed chiefly by the visuals and the use of that ‘soft’ colour that makes Shinkai works so recognisable, and the fantastic detail that really sold every single frame, in terms of the ‘alternate Japan’ setting.

After a bit of reflection I suspect what I didn’t enjoy as much was the integration of the fantastical/mystical perhaps, that and the pacing – or maybe I should say the ending. And even that’s a bit misleading, because what I wanted more of was time for the discovery, destruction and aftermath of the tower. It’s so central to the story but the climax is completed reasonably quickly compared to what I was hoping for.

On the other hand, cinematically it’s great to see the change in colour and intensity in those moments, actually. I also really liked the design of Hiroki and Takuya’s airplane and maybe that (and the science-fiction(ish) elements of this film) will bring Voices of a Distant Star to mind. In a similar way, I think if you’ve not seen this one, the downbeat, bittersweet tone of Shinkai’s first feature film will be familiar enough if you’ve seen his others.

And to compare The Place Promised in Our Early Days to Voices… once more, one of the things that is so impressive about this movie is that Shinkai was involved in so many aspects in terms of conception and production. This time around it’s not quite a one man show but wow, it’s abundantly clear that he is one talented artist and filmmaker.

Definitely worth watching if you’re a fan of Shinkai and haven’t seen this one yet but if you’re new to his films then this is not the best entry-point I reckon.

3 Stars

*I’m a little pressed for time lately so I wasn’t able to go screencap happy today, and instead sourced these images from google.

5 thoughts on “The Place Promised in Our Early Days (Kumo no Mukō, Yakusoku no Basho)

  1. I feel like this film gets ignored compared to other Shinkai works. The Place Promised In Our Early Days is the most underrated movie of his and it’s also my favorite. To each their own though. I still want to see Weathering With You which is the only Shinkai film I haven’t seen or reviewed yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same! It took me ages to find a copy.

      I wish I’d have 5-10 more minutes at the end but I can definitely see why it’s your fav – I feel like there’s so much scope to this one, with a lot of economical (and effective) storytelling in it. And me too, will have to wait for streaming/dvd as my cinema didn’t get it in.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, it’s been unlicensed for years. I’m surprised that it hasn’t been rescued to the best of my knowledge. You would think that after the success of Your Name, that people would scramble to get something from Shinkai to distribute.

        Thank you. There were a few tweaks I would’ve done, certainly, but I still enjoy this movie even today.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Me too, yeah. I think I’d mostly want to expand, I’d love a bit more at the end but also more time spent with Hiroki in between the time jump. Very curious about his time there and I also wanted perhaps a bit more of what was happening when Sayuri is mostly asleep/in between worlds – to further explore the sci-fi element.

          I was also curious about the Union too, and that alternate historical stuff – in fact, maybe I wanted it to be a series 😀

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Sure. I thought Sentai would do everything to rescue it since the people who formed ADV made that company and they are literally the reason why Shinkai got a Western audience in the first place going back all the way to Voices of a Distant Star. I feel like such a hipster with his earlier films like Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised, and even 5 Centimeters Per Second because I felt that not many fans knew who he was yet. Okay, you had that “next Miyazaki” moniker when 5cm came out, but he was nowhere near as known as he is now.

            That actually sounds like a good idea with the time skip. Having that and more time with Sayuri in those dreams/dimensions would’ve made this greater and I already enjoy this movie.

            Yeah, you never really see that much of the Union. While it is implied to be the Soviet Union like how those enemy soldiers spoke Russian briefly, you don’t see Ezo or other places that would’ve been under control in this alternate history and you even had several nations get independence in the 90s in our timeline. What would a Soviet-occupied Northern Japan look like? Would Russian be a main language? Would last names be Slavified like countries (some of which even still) like in Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, or Uzbekistan for example (example name: Takashi Nakamurov instead of Nakamura)? What technology do they have besides the tower and planes?

            Maybe this could work as an OVA or at least a short TV series if one wanted to expand it.


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 )

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.