Monday, July 27, 2015
[Anime] The Place Promised In Our Early Days Review
The Place Promised In Our Early Days - 7.5/10
A high-quality movie that has a lot of things going for it, but also felt somewhat off-kilter in crucial departments.
The Good: Visually it's very high quality, and it puts this to work for it. "Place" knows how to create a real sense of openness, of the ultra-real, and also of emptiness. In particular I enjoyed the first half in this regard as it reminded me of trips I've taken to remote Alaska; there is something frigidly beautiful and thoroughly vast about the setting they grow up in. I was frankly very touched by it, especially with the strokes of melancholy laced in there with the universe. There was a genuine appreciation there of grandeur and mystery.
I also thought the characters were reasonable and the unusual details of their situation interesting. It's not really a spoiler, but this is happening in an alternate universe where the Soviet Union had taken over the norther portion of Japan. And in their area they've built a gigantic tower for some purpose, which shadows over Japan literally and figuratively. All in all a rather compelling setting.
The Bad: The sci-fi. Don't get me wrong, I love science fiction. But the way it became integrated into the movie felt out of place. It was around the halfway point that it gets weird. It starts into some heavy pseudo-science that somehow attempts to explain why the female lead has now fallen into a coma that is actually her connecting to alternate universes and the only way to wake her up is to fulfill a promise they made as kids. It was around there that it lost me. What was charming about the early portion was the thoroughly normal interactions of the trio, how life felt then, and how they looked forward to the future. The sci-fi elements felt more like they were getting in the way of this than supporting it.
It makes me want to see "5 Centimeters a Second" now. Both movies are from the same director, but my understanding is that "5 cm" does not have the same sci-fi elements. If that is the case, and it is able to retain the same well-crafted atmosphere and general personality then I greatly look forward to it.