Region: 2 - UK
Length: 120 minutes
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1
This collection brings together Shinkai's first two films "Voices of a Distant Star" and "The Place promised in our early days." VODS was produced by Shinkai on his own using an Apple Mac, and tells the story of a couple split by time and space. The Place promised in our early days centres around a mysterious tower, which becomes an obsession for two young boys.
Voices of a Distant Star
Voices of a Distant Star follows the romance of Mikako and Nobaru. When Mikako joins the UN space navy she leaves Earth to pilot a mecha, to combat a group of aliens known as the Tarsians. As she gets further from Earth her e-mails take a longer and longer to reach Earth. So despite very little time passing for Mikako, Nobaru gets older; his life centring around sporadic emails from Mikako, The film is extremely dream like, throughout the film despite becoming a mecha pilot Mikako remains in her school uniform throughout. She uses the same mobile phone to e-mail Nobaru back on Earth. It's a little disconcerting, but brings the point home.
It's hard to believe that this film was largely the work of one man, the only thing that really gives it away are the few places where the character animation is a little off. The stunning backgrounds more than make up for this, many of which are dominated by reds, yellows and blues adding to the dream like feel of the film.
The sound track is of extremely high quality. An English dub is included as well as the original Japanese track featuring Shinkai and his girlfriend, as well as a track featuring professional Japanese voice actors.
The extras include the short film "She and her cat" a story about a cat and his relationship with his owner, animatic for VODS and an interview with Shinkai as well as material in the included booklet.
The Place Promised in our Early Days
This film differs from VODS in that it has a full animation team, so the film is a little longer and features higher quality character animation.
The story centres around two boys growing up in an alternate reality Japan where North and South are divided. The boys become obsessed with building a plane and reaching a mysterious tower in the North which dominated the skyline. The boys Hiroki and Takuya make friends with a girl in their class named Sayuri, who they promise to fly to the tower.
Sayuri disappears one Summer drawn into a dream where she is all alone and can not escape from. The boys not knowing her fate drift apart. Takuya starts to work for a government facility where he discovers that the tower has been replacing material around it with that of parallel universes.
The story is much stronger and multi-threaded in The Place promised in our early days, whilst VODS was more of a dialogue between two people. Both share a dream like atmosphere, and in this film that atmosphere is used strongly as part of the plot. It's enjoyable to see Shinkai progress as a director as Place promised on our early days is an extremely rich and emotive film.
Extras include cast interviews as well as material in an additional booklet.
Shinkai's work is deeply thoughtful, focusing on the main character's feelings and reactions. This lends a deeply introspective quality to his work. Since this set contains Shinkai's first two films, it's a ideal introduction to his work.