- Note: Blu-ray discs are in a high definition format and need to be played on a Blu-ray player.
The Place Promised in Our Early Days / Voices of a Distant Star Twin Pack
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(Nov 21, 2016)
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Contains both 'The Place Promised in our Early Days' and 'Voices of a Distant Star' on Blu-Ray and DVD. With both the English dub and the original Japanese track with English subtitles, presented in collectors packaging with an artbook.
The Place Promised in our Early Days
Hiroki, Takuya and Sayuri are two young boys and a girl living in Aomori, the closest province in Honshu to Hokkaido. These three young classmates become fascinated by the gigantic yet mysterious tower that they see across the Tsugaru Strait, promising that one day they will build and fly an aircraft to the tower and unravel its mystery.
Voices of a Distant Star
A young pilot named Mikako volunteers to be sent on a journey through space to join the fight against a hostile alien race. Leaving behind the man she loves, her only means of contact with him is via text message, which take longer to reach him the further she travels from Earth.
"By any standard it's impressive anime; as a feature debut it's a remarkable achievement" --Seattle Times
"'The Place Promised in Our Early Days' will appeal to anyone who cherishes intelligent cinema, and its arrival should signal Shinkai's position not only as a new master of anime, but as a new force in global cinema" --Film Threat
'The Place Promised in Our Early Days' will appeal to anyone who cherishes intelligent cinema, and its arrival should signal Shinkai's position not only as a new master of anime, but as a new force in global cinema --Film Threat
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About the two films; Voices of a Distant Star is a short film of 24 minutes to tell a rather involved story of intergalactic conflict and the disruption and distortion of time that it that causes his protagonists. It is mastered in stereo and 5.1 for Japanese and English voice casts (you can find the original voice acting by Shinkai and Shinohara, his GF of the time, on the artboards/original art extra.) This *is* an upscale, the original work was straight to video, remastered for DVD but not created at anything approaching Blu Ray resolutions. It is still visually charming, character designs are simple as you might expect from a first solo work, his backgrounds are rich and stunning. His storytelling is concise and measured, with good pacing. If you are looking forward to the release of "Your Name", this film really offers perspective on how his writing and production have evolved and highlight their origins.
The real feature, Shinkai's second work The Place Promised in Our Early Days, truly shines in Blu Ray format. On this film, he was backed by a top notch animation production crew, and this 35mm film transferred very well to Blu Ray, the colors and art are rich and vibrant. It also features Japanese and English voice casts and a much more professional feel. But his unique writing and storytelling combined with stunning scenery and better character design (featuring a larger cast) all lead to a very effective 90 minute feature film, and anticipates his stunning Box Office success of 2016. The story he spins again features the unlikelihood of making a deep personal romantic partnership that can withstand the forces of the world, in this case those forces are a more local war with parallel universes complicating the story. Here he weaves in themes of friendship and camaraderie alongside this romance, and is sometimes affirming and sometimes falls into melancholy, as is typical of all of his films. If you are familiar with works of Murakami, such as Norwegian Wood, his storytelling will seem very familiar.
Both films have plot descriptions on IMDb, if you are looking for more info. It's obvious that the Japanese anime film industry is looking to crown an heir apparent to Hayao Miyazaki, and his son and other Ghibli directors have not yet risen to that challenge. Shinkai and Mamoru Hosoda have both demonstrated that sort of promise, and any Ghibli fan really must check out both Directors.
Exceeding expectations, AllTheAnime have hidden CoWave's short film Traveling 'Daru' in this box set, an almost wordless epic tale of one young girl's lost handmade stuffed character, and its heroic efforts to find its way back to her. A very charming story for any age. As Director Ushio Tazawa served as the character designer and chief animation director to The Place Promised in Our Early Days, his art feels right at home alongside these other works.
As an owner of all of these works in lower resolution formats, and Japanese language-only Blu Ray editions, this set is an excellent addition to my library!
One thing to note is that the extra OVA included in this collector's edition, "Voices of a Distant Star", does not have its own blu-ray disc, but rather both movies are included on a single blu-ray, while the DVD-versions both have their own disc. Not a huge deal breaker, but it would have been nice to have standalone blu-rays for both movies.
I look forward to more Makoto Shinkai movies on blu-ray (especially "your name.")