Known in Japanese as 雲のむこう、約束の場所 (Kumo no Muko, Yakusoku no Basho) transliterated in english “beyond the clouds, the promised place". The Place Promised in Our Early Days is Shinkai’s first feature length. Watching it what were my thoughts? Story and Characters The dramatic sci-fi with a blend of romance takes place in an
Known in Japanese as 雲のむこう、約束の場所 (Kumo no Muko, Yakusoku no Basho) transliterated in english “beyond the clouds, the promised place”. The Place Promised in Our Early Days is Shinkai’s first feature length. Watching it what were my thoughts?
Story and Characters
The dramatic sci-fi with a blend of romance takes place in an alternate timeline and revolves around the lives of 3 friends Hiroki, Takuya and Sayuri and a promise they make to one another to one day fly their self built plane called the bella ciela to the Hokkaido Tower, a prominent monument built by the soviet union that separates the Soviet Union owned North of Japan from the US occupied South of Japan.
Three years pass and along with it the disappearance of Sayuri. Hiromi and Takuya go their separate ways and discontinue building their plane the Bella Ciela. Takuya lands a job as a physicist at a scientific facility supported by the United States, and on a daily basis he is exposed to researching about parallel universes and the Hokkaido’s towers involvement to them. Hiroki attends high school like normal but overwhelmingly depressed ever since the disappearance of Sayuri. But it isn’t long that the two friends discover a secret about their friend Sayuri that connects her to the Hokkaido Tower.
When I look back over the ending of The Place Promised in our Early Days, I can’t help but feel like it had so much untapped potential. I felt like the film wasn’t too sure on what it wanted to be. While a sci-fi military romance isn’t something that has never been done before, The Place Promised in our Early Days in my eyes didn’t do it well. When I think of The Last of Us -a hit third person shooter set in a zombie apocalypse, it is a game that didn’t do anything new but did what has already been done really good, and I mean ridiculously good. Unfortunately, lens flares, and shallow depths of field just didn’t cut it for The Place Promised in Our Early Days, and it couldn’t get away from its many many holes.
40 minutes in I clocked out of the story completely, and the story seemed to almost remove itself from our 3 protagonists for a good 10-15 minutes, with a lot of filler that stretches out the UN’s intentions for the giant pillar that separates the north and south of Japan. As soon as the story went back to our 3 protagonists so did my attention, and believe it out not i still understood the story without having to pay attention to the filler.
Far too many stills and text saying giving details on location and time skips. Why is a 4 months later even necessary? Just skip
All the character interactions felt dry and limp, with no real conflict or personality that shines. I just couldn’t really care for Hiroki, he was the dullest stick out of the bunch and I found Takuya and Sayuri much more interesting characters than him and the story probably would have had some justice if he was scrapped completely. The only time the characters feel fun to watch would be as kids.
I was really frustrated with watching this because characters in a film are the key ingredient to a film/story. Everything is there to highlight their personalities and lives and when you pay more attention to the setting than your characters, you have a rushed scene no matter how pretty it is and it is a massive let down especially when you have a minute of silence for no reason and for some reason it doesn’t feel as beautifully executed as Miyazaki where the scene with Chihiro on the train felt like it came at the right time and even served the plot of the story, but for the place promised in our early days, the scene felt frustrating and felt like a scene added just to fill time rather than a provoking or intentional moment.
It is common knowledge amongst fans that the ending to the place promised in our early days is very ambiguous especially when you have a prologue that seems to serve no connection to the film outside of being an opportunity for the main character to mourn his youth and middle school crush as though this was a sequel to voices of a distant star. While it plays an interesting set up it completely falls away, at first I forgot all about it and it wasn’t until I read another review they brought the fact that there was even a prologue.
I understood the ending and I don’t think it was hard to understand either, especially when you ignore the good-for-nothing prologue. Sayuri loses her memories and her feelings for Hiroki but it was an opportunity for them to start over now that they are adults. I can understand that if you were one of the few who remembered the prologue it would be baffling to try and tie the two together, maybe it was an alternate reality, maybe Sayuri goes her own separate way, there were just too much maybe’s that loosen the plot.
I wish this next section would be in praise of the animation, but unfortunately this won’t be the place for it. Something, that I found absolutely unacceptable was in a scene with Sayuri and Hiroki talking on the train and they were both motionless figures with dots for eyes and the only thing that moved were their mouths. It was a really frustrating scene where they spoke for 10 minutes and only their surroundings were highly detailed but stuck in an animated loop.
The animation and character designs were significantly better in this compared to his previous short Voices of a Distant Star and I have to say the cinematography really wasn’t something to be ignored, the choice of shots and close ups were really lovely to look at and really if you are none the wiser to film studies and animation you’d probably pass it off as amazing, but really trust me when I tell you, Shinkai offered us a lot of eye candy, there was no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.
The ending song was composed by Tenma and if I am honest it did go unnoticed for most of the time, scenes that could have used a bit of background music were left bare and made the scenes boring, and this film really was a testament that music makes a wealth of difference to how a scene may be received. However in the end nothing was really memorable for me musically especially when the violin holds a bit of significance to the story or did it?
Our early days did well to look at topics such as loneliness and depression, and the challenges faced advancing into adulthood. However at times the flow of the film felt scattered and wasn’t much of a interesting viewing. While the attention to detail on the settings, objects and cinematography was better than anything hand drawn Disney can produce, it was let down by flat characters and a half baked plot that saw its characters as touts for the authors thoughts rather than just as characters with well formed lives and personalities.
The Place Promised in Our Early Days for me has to be my least favourite and with it being Shinkai’s first feature length, the thematic structure that he heavily relies on just didn’t translate all too well in this animated feature.
My disappointments with this film isn’t so much that I am disappointed with the storyline but in its characters, even a dull story can be brightened by a lively and dynamic cast of characters. I had remembered at some point actually watching the film but somehow someway I erased it from my memory completely and I now know why.
This light heart warming drama is something I never thought I would stick with for 6 months. But after 53 episodes, several tears, grunts of annoyance and hearty laughs, here is my review of All About My Mum. When you spend every weekend for 6 months with a drama you expect it
This light heart warming drama is something I never thought I would stick with for 6 months. But after 53 episodes, several tears, grunts of annoyance and hearty laughs, here is my review of All About My Mum.
When you spend every weekend for 6 months with a drama you expect it to go on forever.
[KGVID width=”1080″ height=”720″]http://teoblogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/ALL-ABOUT-MY-MUM.mp4[/KGVID]
Story and Cast
All about my mum is a 2015 korean drama about San Ok, her husband Dong Chul and her three children Jin Ae, Hyung Soon, and Hyung Kyu. The drama touches on motherhood, love and the stages of life in comedic and touching ways.
As much as the drama first delves into the antagonism between Jin Ae the daughter and her mother San Ok, it really does well to give attention to all three children, their love interests and many aspects of Korean family life.
The first 20 episodes I came from not really understanding the mother to deeply symphatize with her character and adjusting to her temperamental nature.
It frustrated me that she always took the side of her eldest son despite the numerous times he was in the wrong. I was annoyed at their good for nothing father for putting the family constantly in difficult situations especially financially and the youngest son Hyung Soon, while I sympathised with his struggle of being a graduate unable to find a good job, his love arc with Chae Ri drove me mad.
So my heart was no doubt with Jin Ae, who was no doubt the rock of the family, sacrificing a lot of her own wants and needs to bail her family out.
But as the story progressed I found that I was really warming up to this dysfunctional nuclear household, while they bothered me to no end, I especially found it incredible how much I began to understand Ok, and realised just how epic of an actress Doo Shim Go actually is and just how well written her character San Ok was. I couldn’t help but really admire her.
Jin Ae played by Eugene, is the middle child of Dong Chul and San Ok. A hard-working career driven young woman who can’t wait to be separated from her overbearing mother. Jin Ae’s progress and development throughout the series is really something, as a viewer you immediately sympthasize with her and at once only regard her as probably the only sane one in the family.
Her love story with “Mr.fix-it” Hoon Jae Kang, was really warm and sweet. There is something about seeing them go from strangers to parents.
I really connected well with Jin Ae’s ambitions and values and despite her hard headed nature, she was very similar to her mother. While there were some annoying tidbits to Jin Ae’s choices during her courtship arc, such as allowing her mother-in-law get in the way of her romance with Hoon Jae.
I was glad to see Jin Ae soften up to her own mother and have her eyes opened to how much her mother actually loves her.
Hyun Soon the youngest child played by Tae-Joon Choi is the heart-throb womaniser. Straight out of college and jobless, he isn’t too confident in himself and abilities, but his development as a character really is when he meets Chae Ri Jang and begins his fling with her.
Hyun Soon compared to his elder brothers pretty decent and treats his parents far more better than his siblings, but he really lacks in having confidence in himself and possibly connecting himself to the unfiltered daughter of a major corporation was the best thing for him. What started off as a lie became genuine feelings.
While for 2 25 year olds they were annoyingly immature about their relationship running around for the first half of the series as two 16 year olds- I grew a liking to them as a couple.
The eldest, Hyung Guy played by Min-Seek Oh is an accomplished lawyer who wants to excel in his field. However he has a selfish worldview and takes advantage of his mother’s preference towards him as a means to benefit himself.
He possibly is the meanest towards h9is parents, and a lot of his activity at the start of the series is questionable. Hyung Gyu if you haven’t already guessed is not my favourite character and he is the slowest to change. He doesn’t really have an “awakening” till the last couple of episodes due to a family tragedy that really wakes him up.
Even with his relationship with single mom Hye-Joo Sun. Hyung Gyu learns to communicate his feelings a bit better, you see his selfishness and ingratitude for his mother sprout in new ways.
As frustrating as Hyung Gyu was he was really interesting to watch once you place all your frustrations aside. And while there aren’t any obvious signs of change it happens subtly.
The combination of all 3 siblings makes for entertaining viewing, and there
Back to the story, episodes 40-53 the mood of the drama really takes a dramatic shift, from it’s upbeat and friendly tone to a more serious one. I have never cried so much for a drama in awhile, it could be that I am more sensitive now as an adult or that I have too much of an empathetic nature but there is something about sticking with a series for 50 episodes that makes you feel like part of the family and their struggles.
I have to admit there were even times watching this drama that made me say that it’s worth being a mother even with its aches and pains, the sound of laughter and the joy that is shared is worth it.
I don’t think there is a song to be hated at all in this drama. With two of my favourite songs being “I will” by Kim Hyun Joong and Beige, a powerful duet with sweet notes that I like to dub as Jin Ae and Jae Kang’s song. There’s also “I Like You” by SunnyHill, this upbeat pop song that is always fun to listen to.
All About My Mum is a fun series, that is fun for all ages. While it is pretty long it makes for a great Sunday watch, especially is you pace through two episodes per week. The characters are fun and the story isn’t one dimensional, by even giving our side characters story arcs and dimensions to their characters that leaves you feeling very involved. I thoroughly enjoyed the series and I give it my highest recommendations. While this doesn’t hit 5 out of 5, a very generous rating, it gets the next best thing.
It has been an insightful week, having meetings with seniors in the advertising industry, spontaneous meet ups and bumping into award-winning chief execs in the animation industry. God is a master at serendipity. Despite being in a job that I thought would set me back a bit in my career, and would
It has been an insightful week, having meetings with seniors in the advertising industry, spontaneous meet ups and bumping into award-winning chief execs in the animation industry.
God is a master at serendipity.
Despite being in a job that I thought would set me back a bit in my career, and would limit me. It has been a blessing in disguise.
But a quick summary of my week to date. I finally got my membership card to google campus, it is a pretty cool Hun for collaborations and be around like minded freelancers and entrepreneurs. It is a distance to get to so it will be reserved for the times I am closer to Moorgate.
And I was really happy with my Chai Tea Latte from Costa. Good ol’ Costa, when Starbucks let me down it never disappoints.
Also did you know I’m studying Japanese? I really want to take my self learning more seiously this year, to the point I’m contemplating a short course at SOAS.
Japanese may not be massively popular to learn but we can’t doubt it’s usefulness, plus I’ve been in love with the language since I was a kid.
But I will leave it there for now.
This week’s review is on Shinkai’s second short film, 星の声 Hoshi No Koe known in english as Voices of a Distant Star. This 25 minute short was actually one of the first films I had watched by Shinkai before I knew about Shinkai. Released in 2002, I don't think it is an exaggeration that
This week’s review is on Shinkai’s second short film, 星の声 Hoshi No Koe known in english as Voices of a Distant Star.
This 25 minute short was actually one of the first films I had watched by Shinkai before I knew about Shinkai. Released in 2002, I don’t think it is an exaggeration that it is one of the most recognised films of Shinkai by anime fans in the west.
Voices of a Distant Star is a short story about two middle school friends who are separated by time and space. Mikako the female protagonist of this tale is selected by the United Nations army to fight intergalactic threats to Earth and to go on an expedition across their solar system. Noboru, our male protagonist is left back on earth to live a normal life but has difficulty in moving on.
Voices of a Distant Star had quite solid themes such as loneliness, distance, longing and time. It all played out well especially in Noboru becoming an adult longing for his childhood with his middle school crush. When things were much more simple. Becoming an adult myself I could easily connect to the growing delay of messages he was receiving from Mikako. One minute you are constantly around someone, the next you are simply messaging them everyday, everyday turns into every other day and before you know it 5 years down the line you are messaging them “Long time no speak”. So much has changed about them and in their lives while for you it feels like you haven’t and nothing has changed.
The idea of being able to communicate by the heart through a common item was a great tool in this story and using the mobile phone as a method for communication has greater importance in 2016 than over a decade ago, because at least 90% of our communication is done through our mobile phones, even though we have advanced in other ways such as video messaging, social media etc. Noboru hangs delay onto his old cellphone in order to receive messages from Mikako and Mikako hangs onto hers because it is the only things that connects her to earth.
While the story has its sweet moments there are plenty and I mean plenty of nonsensical parts to it. Such as why would Noboru be stubborn and choose to not love someone else because of a crush he had on a 15 year old girl whose relationship he had with her lasted as long as his time in middle school? This is probably the most infuriating part of the storyline as it is human nature to change your mind and/or display impatience. Also, I am glad that the film could poke a bit of fun at itself at the ridiculousness of a 15 year old girl being chosen by the UN to go on a planetary expedition all of a sudden because she got good grades and was good at sports. Noboru’s comment, “ It seems, somehow, kind of like a stupid story.” hit the nail on the head and it was nice enough for Shinkai to acknowledge this through one of his characters.
I can’t get rid of the feeling that maybe the story would have been more believable if it had taken place just as they were finishing high school or college. Then you would have had this history between the Noboru and Mikako that would have lasted years and in turn would have been more meaningful. But at the age of 15, you’ve barely started your life. But lets ignore the story long enough to appreciate the design.
I wasn’t too crazy about the character designs, at times it looked awkward and unrefined, something that didn’t happen with She and Her Cat. Because of this you can very easily notice that this film has AGED. However, the strengths lied within the set design and the wondrous settings the movie took place in. While the locations on earth were limited and that 30%-40% of the film took place within the vacuum of space; When the film did venture to new terrain, it really was a sight for the eyes.
This time Shinkai didn’t perform a one man juggle but he did work on it as director, writer and co-producer. Shinkai’s landscapes are wonderfully fantasy like and it only becomes more stunning as you go through his body of work. Trust me it only gets more amazing from this point onwards.
The animation was a mixture of 2D and 3D. With the mecha and planets being made via 3D software called lightwave and everything else using after effects and photoshop on a power Mac G4- A POWER MAC G4. Unfortunately this is one throwback I would have been too young to remember. The character animation can feel stunted and awkward at times so it does make the 3D feel even more out of place despite how cool it is, but it is forgivable as an earlier work.
I complained about it in the review for She and Her Cat and I will complain about it again… can the text messages disappear anymore faster?! These huge long winding pieces of text hardly get a couple of seconds of screen time and so much of the story is in their messages . There is nothing spectacular about the character animation that I can talk in depth about and there’s nothing too bad about it that distracted me from the story being told, so it makes a pass.
The score is touching and was composed by Tenma, who is a well known collaborator of Shinkai’s and composes gorgeous pieces of music for other works and anime I am familiar with. The aforementioned composer has composed music that really bring out the feelings of longing and it really suits Shinkai’s stories really well.
To conclude I actually much prefer She and Her Cat as a gateway to Shinkai, just because it really is impressive that he worked on that all on his own and proved that independent animation can make those all important breakthroughs. But saying that I still need to give credit where credit is due, as Voices of a Distant Star is the perfect set up to familiarise yourself with the themes and style of Shinkai that has trademarked him as the next Miyazaki. It will be here that his work only becomes more and more captivating as he plays around more with fantasy and space in his beautifully rendered films that not only captivate the eyes but also the heart and truly inspire just not a generation of animators but filmmakers as well.
Have you heard of Yeojin Shin? I can't for the life of me figure out how I stumbled across her work but this New York based animator and illustrator has quite a colourful portfolio full of gorgeous design. https://vimeo.com/131251109 Her work is a blend of motion graphics, 2D and 3D animation. Her
Have you heard of Yeojin Shin? I can’t for the life of me figure out how I stumbled across her work but this New York based animator and illustrator has quite a colourful portfolio full of gorgeous design.
Her work is a blend of motion graphics, 2D and 3D animation. Her piece that stole my attention at first was The Seed. You’d regret not familiarising yourself with her work, she is definitely one for your radar.