The director and writer of The Place Promised in Our Early Days is a certain Makoto Shinkai who is otherwise famous for movies like 5 cm Per Second and Voices of a Distant Star. He has been hailed as one of the greatest anime directors or even the greatest, up there with legends like Hayao Myazaki. Since I saw his other two movies first and absolutely adore them, it is needless to say that my expectations for this movie were sky high. Simply put, I was not let down. Unlike the other two movies under the same direction, The Place Promised in Our Early Days has a very definite plot with clear dips, rises and climaxes. All in all, it is an exciting story that puts you in the center of a divided Japan with different powers controlling both sides. The plot might seem dry and overused on paper, but it is quite intriguing once you actually see it in action. Also driving the storytelling forward is this movie's sci-fi twist on parallel universes and how certain people react with them. Again, this movie certainly brings around one of the uniquer feeling tales around, even if it doesn't sound it. Anyone who has seen another Makoto Shinkai movie however will be able to tell you though, that it is not the story that makes his movies special, but the characters and the emotion that few movies come close to matching. Although it is still a huge distant beyond any other movie in this respect, the power behind to emotions is probably the weakest of all three movies. Don't get me wrong; you will still find the characters and their relations hauntingly and irresistibly real, but you aren't AS horrified when a character's life suddenly changes for the worse. Still, the feelings of loneliness, desperation, or exuberance, all of which Shinkai is famous for, are still found in their distinct, amazing way. Since this was the second of the three movies, it also seems as though it is a technical middle-step between the OK animation of Voices of a Distant Star, and the truly breath-taking visual found in 5 cm Per Second. The animation will not disappoint you, and there are some truly clever tricks that are used that make it look truly wonderful, but they won't stand out among the best in the industry. The music might just do that however with its beautiful, violin-heavy soundtrack that creates a great ambiance for whatever scene is currently playing. Also, the fact that the violin is featured in the soundtrack is of relevance to the plot, and makes both the character progression and the music appear that much sweeter.
Although I have criticized this movie a lot, for every thing it did wrong, it did a million things right. This still stands with the truly great anime movies out there and is a great watch for any fan of sci-fi influenced plots that will bring a surprisingly personal tone to the story.