I was chilling out, relaxing all cool when I came across a stash of wallpapers on my hard drive. Those wallpapers turned out to be none other than those from Makoto Shinkai’s The Place Promised in our Early Days, his second feature film. Released in 2004, it is set in the late 1990s in Japan; during 1974, the nation was divided into two halves, one administered by the United States, and the other by the Union. The Union constructed a massive tower reaching far into the sky in the same year, and the sheer scale of the tower made it visible from Tokyo on a clear day.
I remember writing these passages for the TVTropes page about said work. My account of the plot summary reads:
As teenagers, Hiroki and Takuya became friends with a girl, Sayuri, and came to know each other better while travelling to and from school on the train. When Hiroki and Takuya find a crashed drone plane, they begin to repair it and promise to take Sayuri to the tower. However, she mysteriously disappears before they can and the boys’ lives drift apart. Three years later, tensions between the UN alliance and the Union grow. Takuya is now working with the Alliance to understand parallel universes, while Hiroki is a student in Tokyo, who suffered increasing melancholy as a result of his numerous dreams about Sayuri. He recieves a letter from her one day, and as the threat of war builds in the divided nation, he discovers that the mystery of Sayuri’s disappearance is linked to the fate of the world and resolves to fulfill his promise to her.
As per usual with Makoto Shinkai’s films, this movie turned out to be remarkably well done, touching on the ideas of promise, as well as wistfulness. However, his artwork is what ultimately stands out: it is touted as being more realistic than real life, and a quick glance at the images above and below will quickly drive that point home.
On my website, I’ve jokingly said that the massive tower in the distance of Takaki’s dreams greatly resemble Halo. This is, of course, a falsehood: the tower is actually derived from this movie. When I wrote the original review, I had not seen this particular movie yet. On another note, Akari (in Five Centimetres per Second) bears a great degree of resemblance to Sayuri. I wonder if there are girls with warm personalities and appearances like that in reality……I’m free to dream, aren’t I?