I think enough time has now passed that it’s safe for me to post a Place Promised In Our Early Days video without feeling like those of you who read this blog will dismiss it out of hand — in the mid-/late-2000s, it would probably be a different story, but chances are it’s been a long fricking time that you’ve watched a video using solely this source. Editors have (thankfully) moved on and since 5 Centimeters Per Second was released, it’s not often that editors turn to it as a legitimate source. Because, let’s be honest here — anyone who’s watched AMVs for any amount of time has probably gotten sick to death of Makoto Shinkai’s work being used in AMVs. If that’s you, then I apologize — maybe you’ll still find something to love here. I do believe this video has stood the test of time in a unique way, and it has, over the years, remained one of my favorites using this particular source.
Probably the most striking feature of this video is the way that AceMan utilizes sync — it’s a relatively slow song but he syncs almost every beat to a quick camera zoom or shake, and normally something like this would be a recipe for total disaster, and something I’d want no truck with — this is one of my main issues with the super trendy short-form videos that are being released on YouTube and Instagram these days. Happily, though, it works here and it feels a lot more guided, more deft, and it gives this AMV a totally unique feel that underscores the tension and desperation innate in the source itself.
There are also some really good editing tricks in the first verse of this thing, or if not editing “tricks” in the way one might think of them, than simply great scene selection — the use of scenes from the source with background fades from one setting to another is masterful, again lending this uneasy surrealism to the whole video. You never feel “happy” or “good” about the way the story in this video unfolds, even though it basically just follows the story in the movie and has what could be considered a positive ending. I have to believe that AceMan achieved this primarily through his editing choices because I’ve seen more videos that use this source than I care to count, and I can’t name another one that has such a specific feel.
If there’s anything to criticize, it’s the kind of “special thanks” that AceMan throws out at the video’s end. While today most of the names that flash across the scene probably mean nothing to anyone under 25 years old, if you had seen this video when it was first released you would have recognized almost all of them as big editors on the scene — and even to this day it feels like AceMan was trying to throw down as many big names as he could to either legitimize his work or just show off his connections. While it would have been fine to do this in its own separate section after the video had ended, to list off these names in the video’s final moments, forcing the viewer to sit through them, feels more than a little heavy-handed (and this isn’t unique to this release; AceMan’s more popular video, Andromeda, suffers the exact same issue).
I can’t really harp on that for too long though, because Beyond The Clouds delivers in literally every other part of its almost-four minute run. This video has persisted over the years for me, and has always stood head and shoulders above almost every other Place Promised video released before or since. If you missed it when it was released 11 years ago, you have no excuse now.