The Place Promised In Our Early Days Reviews

565f866da841c21e33f400259b3f5f7a1267231176_fullStory:
Three friends in middle school make a promise to fly a plane towards the mysterious tower looming over the city. But before they even graduate, one falls into a sleep she never awakens from. The boys split up and take different directions in life…

Violence:
The violence in this movie doesn’t really hit until the very last part, when war gets declared and, well, something… bloody… hits the plane. Blood gets all over the windshield and it’s pretty sudden and disturbing. Though it thankfully doesn’t last long. Still… that alone bunked this movie to a YA rating.

Language:
Nothing worse than some d-mns. Pretty light stuff, actually.

Nudity:
Our lead heroine is naked in her hospital bed, but we never see anything. A few shots of her sitting in her uniform are a bit revealing. Nothing too concerning though.

Theology/mythology:
Ideas of parallel universes, subconscious communication and such get bunked around, but everything remains as theory and no one really comes to much of a conclusion or explanation.

Personal impression:
I had watched this movie years back when ADV films was still a thing and anime was booming here in the states. This movie was one of the more literary fiction approaches to storytelling, aka character based, much like 5 Centimeters per Second and Voices of a Distant Star. While all these films have some science fiction/fantasy elements to them, overall these movies are based on the relationships of the characters to one another, rather than the settings themselves. And, overall, this works great. The worlds are richer for their stronger characters and the stories leave a bigger impression too. I was surprised when I re-watched this movie only to find I recalled almost everything. Considering how long it’s been and how much anime I watch, it’s pretty amazing that such a strong impression was left.
Of course, if there is one flaw in this show, it’s right where its strength is: show don’t tell. This show is committed to not explaining itself. Which is great! …If you’re fine leaving this movie with a few questions that will never be answered. I kinda enjoyed that part myself, sick as I am of being spoon fed plot by most shows these days. Still, I can see how this aspect might be frustrating for those that enjoy getting all their threads tied up nicely at the end. Because that won’t happen with this show.
If you enjoy more realistic characters and are chill not getting every question answered, I recommend this film. But be warned! This is the kind of world you’ll get tossed in rather unceremoniously. So be prepared to pay close attention, especially to the “news” stations playing in the background of many scenes…

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: movie (4 episode parts)
Language: sub and dub
Official rating: TV14
Genres: Fantasy, literary fiction, romance, science fiction
Studio: CoMix Wave Inc
Company: ADV Films
Official streaming: Crunchyroll 

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Kado: the Right Answer Review

23002Story:
After a tiring negotiation with a metal making company, Shindo and his partner’s flight out of Japan is halted by a giant cube falling from the sky and engulfing the entire plane. Humanity is about to face a creature far more technologically advanced than they can imagine.

Violence:
Generally, there is very little violence in this show. However, the last few episodes have a few graphic scenes. We’re talking hearts getting pulled out. It’s a pretty quick scene but veeeery violent compared to the non-existent violence most of the series enjoys.

Language:
Nothing too bad. A few d-mns and a sh-t here or there. It’s not common enough to cause concern.

Nudity:
Another thing we’re spared. The alien is naked when we first see him, but not for long and we see no details. There’s also a scene of a girl being naked later on, but nothing is shown and it’s typical anime shenanigans.

Theology/mythology:
The creation of the universe and evolution is discussed more than once. Nothing religious in nature really, but if you don’t want to get into theories on the creation of the known universe, you might want to skip this show as that comes into play eventually and is rather important.

Personal impression:
This is one of those shows I normally don’t give the time of day to. For one thing, it’s mostly rendered in 3D animation. I haven’t mentioned much on my feelings about using 3D in anime, but as is common in the community, I generally dislike it. Although I will be fair and admit that my reasoning largely lies in that I find it’s often used incorrectly. But that’s a different article. Another reason this show might have been passed up by me initially is because of how tortuously slow the first episode is. Slow starters are not at all uncommon, but for a story like this I would have liked at least a bit more of a clipped pace, especially as the episode ends on such a huge cliffhanger, making the pacing VERY heavy on only one end.
But credit where it’s due, unlike most slow starters, this series knew how to spin that cliffhanger just enough for me to actually click on episode two. Not an easy thing considering how bad I found the animation to be overall.
But then the “cube” appears and you can easily see why heavy CGI was used in this show. I still have reservations on 3D animation, especially as the quality of it in this show seemed to fluctuate a lot between scenes, which was quite distracting, but overall I understand why they opted for it in this case.
And I’m glad I gave it a chance and kept watching.
The alien we meet eventually and the concepts he (it?) brings to the table concern other dimensions, a difficult topic on its own, but the show further digs itself into old school science fiction by seeking to address how mankind would deal with such a huge leap in technological advancements. These questions, with the title of the show always in the background as characters each seek out their “right answer” to the issues they face, made this series the best sleeper for this past season by far.
The characters… Well, some of those could have used work (especially considering the “big reveal” on one of them near the end), but the story itself more than made up for it. It’s been a while since a story alone made me suffer poor animation with a smile, but this show did a truly amazing job with it.
If you like science fiction.
This is the next huge flaw in the show (besides, ya know, the animation definitely not being for everyone). If you don’t like classic science fiction elements, which are far less about space battles and far more about questioning humanity’s thirst for technology and the possible pit-falls of that, you probably won’t like this show. As I said before, the characters are pretty standard once you strip them of their setting and circumstances. They may be a bit more grounded than some shows, but they aren’t unique. In fact, some are incredibly forgettable. So if you aren’t on board with the story itself, you’re gonna be mighty bored, if not straight up confused.
As a science fiction nerd myself, I really enjoyed it. Something I definitely didn’t see coming. Especially considering how slow it was to take off.
So if you enjoy the more classic and realistic side of science fiction, and don’t mind a feeeeew rushed wrap ups at the end, this is actually a really great show. So long as you don’t stare into the soulless eyes of the early 2000s era game clip animations much…

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 12
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genres: science fiction, fantasy, drama
Company: Toei Animation
Production: Toei Animation
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

Voices of a Distant Star Review

hoshinokoe_8597_7851Story:
Mikako is only fifteen years old when she joins the UN’s attempts to keep a new alien species from invading and annihilating the solar system. She tries to keep her childhood friend, whom she loves, updated on her progress through the galaxy, but with each warp deeper into space, the time between when she sends her messages to him and he receives them get longer and longer. Years pass for him, but it is only a matter of hours for her…

Violence:
The alien creatures bleed red and we see this when they are shot and killed by the human robots. It’s not something that lingers on screen for long and because the aliens are giant glob things, it’s not as graphic as it sounds… I will still tag this for YA, to be on the safe side, however.

Language:
Nothing to report here!

Nudity: 
Aside from some shots where Mikako’s skirt is rather short, nothing to report here either.

Theology/mythology:
Aliens are the only things to speak of here and I really don’t think that fully counts…

Personal impression:
I had actually seen this short film years ago, but catching it again on Crunchyroll, I decided it would be a good idea to re-watch it and review it. It was just as powerful the second time.
I’ll be honest here, the art in this is VERY rough. But when you realize every scene was handled by a single guy on his computer, the show becomes outright amazing. Shinkai pretty much single handedly crafted every aspect of this science fiction drama, from the tears floating in zero gravity to the slow, but powerful change in scenes between our lead’s fight against the alien invaders and her old classmate’s ageing life back on earth. This is definitely one of those rare cases where I believe the story is so strong that it’s worth bearing with the odd and very off artwork.
If you’re looking for a watertight science fiction, this won’t be it. But if you want some feels alongside your space fantasy work? This has it in spades. And, yes, this guy got hired after making this and, yes, his other films improved. This one is still worth the time to watch it, however, and I do recommend it for anyone who loves science fiction.

Personal raring: Young adult

Episodes: 1 (25 min)
Languages: sub and dub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Drama, action, science fiction
Company: CoMix Wave Films
Production: Makoto Shinkai
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

Extra: Preach it!

robot prayNo, this post isn’t necessarily about religion in anime. We’ve discussed that before. Instead, I wanted to bring up something that one of my readers, Artemis, brought up concerning her experience with Ergo Proxy. She said it was a tad “pretentious.” And I must say, although I liked the show, it certainly is. And it isn’t alone. More than a few dystopian works fall into this little rut. Actually, pretty much all of them do. They kinda have to by nature.

But let’s back up a tad here to explain. Dystopian writing comes from the science fiction genre. And although many people think of stuff like Star Wars or Alien when they hear the words “science fiction,” those works aren’t quite the core of the genre. Oh, they qualify. But our idea of science fiction isn’t what it once was. Science fiction originally came from the Gothic literary run and, as I’ve mentioned before, Gothic literature isn’t just about being dark for dark’s sake. It’s about bringing up hard questions and getting readers to re-think the world around them.

When science fiction was first birthed (one of the earliest being Frankenstein by Mary Shelley), this idea of getting readers to stop and think about what they take for granted around them was focused entirely on the brand new technologies of the day. It started as medical sciences, trains, telegraphs, etc. Over time, mechanical machines, altering time itself and, eventually, the unknowns of space became topics. They were usually stories tinted rather dark, with more than a few warnings for humanity tugged here and there. Technology had many wonders, something no science fiction author, even the most pessimistic, would have denied. But they also had a dark side people tended to ignore. Early train systems had little to no safety measures, injuries and deaths being close to common. Medical sciences claimed mainly lives in the pursuit of more knowledge, sometimes the cure being more deadly than the illness. Attempts to get into space overshadowed attempts to take care of our own planet. Science fiction made it clear that although the future had bright shiny toys ahead, it had some serious traps, too.

Over time, science fiction shifted from being more dark and cautionary, to being more for entertainment and novelty, with fantasy and adventure taking a bigger chunk of the plots. But dystopian works were not far behind and, unlike the larger genre of science fiction, dystopian works are quite focused on the demise of humanity. Therefore, it’s not at all surprising to find many a post-apocalyptic world to sound almost preachy in its view of humanity. Like early science fiction works, the primary focus is a dark foreboding with more than a few warnings.

Don’t get me wrong. Ergo Proxy is a good ride as are many dystopian shows and books. But if you’re new to the genre or simply haven’t been into it for awhile, don’t be too surprised at a hint of a sermon in there. And taking a break from it for happier, or at least brighter, shows is a practice I highly recommend. You can only take so much end of the world stuff before your own world starts looking a bit monochrome, after all. That and too much preaching is indeed rather pretentious. Especially if the same topic is put on endless repeat.

Extra: Big brother

unlimitedAh, science fiction. How very paranoid you make us all. But considering SciFi originally came from Gothic literature and horror, it shouldn’t be all that shocking. The very first works that would eventually become known as science fiction, were very dark and did not have many kind words for the future. Instead, they often had only doom to tell of. But before you think that the authors were just really depressing people (although some of them might have been), like many forms of Gothic literature, this new genre was dedicated to getting readers to question the world around them, especially the things they took for granted. The emergence of science fiction came about right around the same time as a great scientific fad. That’s right. Science was once a fad. People scrambled to find meaning and sense out of every single thing, often making up large and ridiculous theories with little proof. The good side of this flurry of activity was quite a few legitimate discoveries and inventions. The bad side? Some of those inventions were outrunning safety. Newer technology was being produced, but few knew how to use it and caution was rarely used in the light of the “new age.” For example, machines that could make cotton fabric cut out years of work, but they had no attachments to keep the excess material in check and thousands of workers died slow and painful deaths from the cotton fiber stuck in their lungs.

In the mist of this mad rush for “improvement,” there were those that questioned if this new technology was being used correctly or if it was even good for society at all. They worried where technology was leading the world and how that would affect human life and the planet itself. It was people like this that created science fiction, using visual warnings on technology’s dark sides via deserted worlds, crazed scientists, and oppressive government systems. And it is that last one that concerns the current day the most.

Today’s science fiction  shows, novels and movies often seem overly fixated on the “Big Brother,” aka ever watchful and controlling government, angle. Shows like The Unlimited, Rideback and Shangri-la are good examples, although the amount of anime that falls for this story element is vast. Considering that all science fiction has started from a very real worry as to where current technology is leading, this endless repeat of a single plot devise tells us a great deal about our world now. With every electronic device asking where we are and what we’re doing at all hours and those devices now traceable from nearly any location on the planet, it’s clear that more than a few people are worried about just how much personal info the government holds and manipulates. And not just the government. Even run of the mill citizens can dig up info on each other with only a few runs of a search engine.

So before you roll your eyes at another repeat of the Big Brother angle, take a minute to reflect on our world today. And maybe avoid tagging your location to your latest Facebook post. I’m sure your friends can wait a few hours to hear about your latest trip to Safeway.

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