AKA: Beyond the Clouds, The Promised Place
Directed by the wonderful Makoto Shinkai, The Place Promised in Our Early Days is a touching and beautifully animated film. Though the plot has some holes, overall the film is brilliant.
In an alternate reality, Japan has been divided after losing a war, and a mysterious tower has been built in Hokkaido. Hiroki and Takuya are best friends attending school, and they both dream of building a plane and one day flying to that tower. They also both have feelings for their classmate, Sayuri Sawatari, whom they promise to take with them when they go to the tower. But Sayuri falls into a deep coma, and the key to waking her up seems to lie in their promised place.
The story is great overall, but I felt that the sci-fi aspects of this movie weren't explored as much as they could have been. Even after the credits roll, we still don't know much about the tower. This film focuses more on the 3 main characters, allowing for more drama and emotion, and though I don't necessarily have a problem with this, it would've been nice if the plot was explained in further detail. As it is now, I don't think that the scientific parts of this movie make a whole lot of sense.
The animation is gorgeous, as per usual with Makoto Shinkai's work. The colors are vibrant, the characters' movements are smooth, and a lot of attention was payed even to the smallest details. The animation is truly some of the best I've ever seen.
The music is also gorgeous. I own the soundtrack, and it's nice to listen to when you want to relax. Along with the background music, there's a lovely song that plays during the film's end credits.
As I already mentioned, there are some flaws in this movie's plot, but if you're looking for a touching drama with great characters and magnificent animation, look no further. The Place Promised in Our Early Days is a masterpiece, and I highly recommend it.