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.