December 24, 2006

The Place Promised in Our Early Days

I didn't know it until watching through some of the seiyu interviews afterwards, but Kumo no Muko, Yakusoku no Basho was also created and directed by Makoto Shinkai who created by himself Hoshi no Koe. This followup work had full financial backing and a full production crew, and as a result could be much longer and fully realized. And like the predecessor, this work is also a masterpiece in all aspects.

Visually, the anime is stunning. CG and an extremely high level of perfection with the cel shading and animation, plus absolutely beautiful environments full of emotion make this film a joy to watch. The character designs are wonderful and full-bodied. The music is also amazing and was composed by Tenmon. There are some choice string pieces featuring violins (which play an important role in the film) and a piano, as well as a beautiful ending song, Kimi no Koe, performed by Ai Kawashima.

There are some parallels in the storylines of Kumo no Muko, Yakusoku no Basho and Hoshi no Koe. Both deal with a boy and girl who become separated from each other due to events outside their control, living with that separation over an extended period of time, and feelings of profound loss. There are several situations of separation and then reunion that play across the span of the story. They also both have interesting technological aspects that play an integral part in these emotions. But this film leaves the viewer with more hope for the future than Hoshi no Koe does.

One interesting twist to the setting is that post-WWII, Japan is split into the North and South by what appear to be Russia and the U.S.A. In a manner very much like Germany was. A sort of cold war exists between the two halves, which are separated by water instead of a man-made wall. And there is a constant threat of further war between the two sides.

Although I watched the film in Japanese with English subtitles, there are a number of English voice actors that were cast for the English ADR which I really like. I suspect the English dub is pretty good. There is actually a short period of English dialogue between to American military officials in the original Japanese, which sounds very wooden and strange.

Posted by josuah at December 24, 2006 6:12 AM UTC+00:00

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