The Place Promised In Our Early Days: Of Friendship & Love

The story takes place in a alternate postwar period, in 1996, where Japan is divided. Hokkaido is ruled by the “Union” while Honshu and other southern islands are under US authority. A tall tower was built on Hokkaido, which could even be seen from Tokyo. In the summer of 1996, three middle-school students make a promise that they’ll cross the border with a self-constructed plane and unravel the tower’s secret, but their project was abandoned after the girl, Sayuri Sawatari, became mysteriously ill and transferred to Tokyo. Years later on the brink of another war Hiroki Fujisawa finds out that Sayuri had been in coma since then, and he asks Takuya Shirakawa to help him finding a way to wake her up.


From that storyline above, it’s hard to imagine how beautiful The Place Promised in Our Early Days can be. I’m not referring to just the artwork and music but also the story. It’s pure friendship and love between three friends.

The movie began with a quick introduction of our three main characters, Hiroki, Takuya and Sayuri, on their early days as middle school students. Hiroki and Takuya had a secret mission – they are rebuilding a plane they found in order to fly to that Tower they are so fascinated with. Sayuri, a classmate they both admired, was also invited along for the ride. It became a promise they made to each other. A promise that they later found out hard to keep.

These early days were filled with hope, curiosity and dreams. The friendship the three children shared was genuine. Slowly throughout the summer, they learned about and from each other. They spent their days at the garage and the boys even had the chance to listen to Sayuri played her violin. Sigh. The days they spent together were mixture of adventures and sense of peace. It’s a beautiful friendship, I’d say.

All these adventures, however, came to an abrupt end when Sayuri vanished into thin air, leaving no trace behind and two heartbroken boys.

Three years later, now high school students, it was told that Hiroki and Takuya went their separate ways. They had forfeited their secret mission after Sayuri’s sudden disappearance and while both guys had suffered pain, Hiroki must’ve suffered more. His dedication to Sayuri was intense. He even learned how to play the violin or more accurately, the beautiful piece Sayuri played that summer three years ago. Each of the three characters struggled trying to find or understand the meaning of life and where they’re at. Takuya buried himself in work. Sayuri tried to figure out her current condition. Hiroki wandered aimlessly with Sayuri close to heart.

Amidst all these sadness and separation, we can see the level of trust and love Hiroki and Sayuri had for each other. In her desperation, Sayuri called out to Hiroki. I’m sure deep down Sayuri trust that Hiroki would figure out a way to bring her back. Their connection was so strong that they could feel the presence of and communicate with each other. And because of love, Hiroki chose to save Sayuri and not the world. It’s kind of selfish, but I think I can understand why he made that choice.

I had this movie buried under my massive collection of to-watch anime. To be honest, I had forgotten about it many times, only to be reminded again when I read reviews from other blogs. I don’t know why I took this long to finally watch this movie, but I gotta say – the 1 1/2 hour is well spent.

Now, I’ll like to leave you with a short clip of the music I fell in love with instantly in The Place Promised In Our Early Days.


22 thoughts on “The Place Promised In Our Early Days: Of Friendship & Love

  1. I watched this like 3 years ago, it was a nice experience, but a bit too sad for my tastes.
    By the way the ending wasn’t exactly clear to me…:P

  2. Shinkai’s works are always gorgeous – and sad. I greatly enjoy his films; they have beauty and depth in art and story.

    And whenever I see any reference to The Place Promised in Our Early Days, I always think of the anime music video Waking Hour. “Gravity” is one of my favorite songs by Vienna Teng.

    • Wow, that’s a very beautiful song. I like Vienna’s voice. Thanks for sharing =)

      I’ve seen three of his works – Voice of a Distant Star, 5cm/s and this. They’re all unique in their own way.

  3. It certainly looks like an interesting movie. The closest thing that comes to mind is 5 cm/s, and I liked that, so maybe I should give this a shot.

  4. Oh a new movie recommendation for me, thx ^-^
    I’m more or less up to date with anime shows, but movie’s are something I miss quite often.

    Your description sounded quite interesting, even though the movie might be a bit sad.
    I will give it a look soon…

    • You’re welcome =).

      Same here, I still have a few movies I want to watch but haven’t get to them yet.

      Hope you enjoy it as much as I do when you watch it.

  5. I need to see this again. I watch this like 3 years back so I don’t really remember anything. But I know it’s awesome because Makoto Shinkai was directing, producing, and writing the anime. 😀

    • Haha, I shake my head in disbelief to know that it took me 3 years to watch this movie. I’m most definitely looking forward to his latest film.

  6. I think I fell in love more with the animation than the movie itself. Not to say that the movie was bad in any way, it was actually very emotionally moving.

    Since you like the music so much, I think you should watch this music video. It takes the theme from the movie and leads into another song which is really good.

      • The music is really suitable for the overall theme of the movie. I don’t really know what the song’s talking about but the music and the singer’s way of expressing the song brought back the feelings I had when I watch the movie.

        Thanks for sharing! =)

  7. I don’t watch a lot of anime movies myself, in fact, anime movies are very secondary priority for me. That results in me missing out a lot of great anime movies, like…. okay I won’t say any titles ;p Just that if you blurt out any mainstream anime movie, there’s a good 99% chance I haven’t watch it. I had downloaded some in my collection already and will definitely check some of them out one of these days. I need to get The Place Promised In Our Early Days too..

  8. I’m a sucker for bittersweet stories, so I think I’ll really enjoy this. The premise seems interesting enough. Childhood friends, alternate reality, taking on the world… etc. And the story sounds super emotional.

    Definitely going to try to make time for this movie, which shouldn’t be too hard. I should have two hours to spare.

    • It is emotional. For me, anyway.

      Yeaps, it shouldn’t be that hard to set aside two hours for a movie. Even though I said that, it took me ages to pick up any movie.

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