“The Place Promised in Our Early Days” – Chris Luedtke

Give me a blanket, give me a pillow, give me a soft place to lay, pop in this flick, and I’m good to go. Not so very often do I get a strong urge to just sit back and enjoy the bittersweet frames whisk by. The Place Promised in Our Early Days is a place that I’ve always wanted to visit but never knew I did, and now that I’ve been there, all I want to do is go back again.

It sounds sappy, I know, but Makoto Shinkai’s The Place Promised in Our Early Days is a film that did stop delighting me. Early Days takes place in an alternate timeline, circa the ‘90s era. The north side of Japan is still controlled by the Japanese, but the south side is controlled by the United States. Much mystery shrouds it, namely the giant white tower that reaches above the clouds and is seemingly endless. During one summer, three friends promise each other to get to the tower by an airplane that they are fixing up. Unfortunately, when one of them mysteriously falls into a coma and disappears, the trio’s promise gets buried in the ashes of their yesteryears. But something about that tower and the coma seem to be connected, and the prospect of fulfilling the promise begins to revive itself.

At first glance, some will believe this to be a Hayao Miyazaki film, and why not? Its style is very similar. Character and artistic designs are very much something straight out of Princess Mononoke. Make no mistake about it, as far as my research has taken me, he had no hand in this film. Of course, that doesn’t mean that one should dismiss it. Shinkai’s film here is just as good as Miyazaki’s works. If you are a die-hard Miyazaki fan, then this is definitely worth checking out.

The plot is beautifully done. We get a great feel for the characters’ young and old lives. Their dreams hold strong throughout, even when the rains pour on them. The plot has a science fiction twist which seemed kind of dumb at first, but in the end, I have to say it worked out pretty well. The other dimension that they tapped into didn’t really serve as much of a purpose as I thought it would, but that didn’t make the film’s plot necessarily worse; it just made me question a few things about why some details were left untapped.

I feel as though The Place Promised in Our Early Days is one of those buried gems that not enough people know about. I happened to discover it on accident while shifting through films on Netflix. This is definitely something that everyone should check out. It doesn’t have a whole lot of action or groundbreaking ideas, but it has a lot of heart, which is something that can’t be said for a lot of films nowadays.

Rating: ★★★½

-Chris Luedtke

Leave a Reply