Now and again, I find I'm being asked why I like anime, and what's so special about it. One answer you hear given quite often to questions like this is "it's not just for kids, anime is for grownups too". I used to say this too, but in the case of much of what's out there, after much thought I realised that's not really accurate. Sure, there's anime out there that's full of sex and/or death and/or 'mature themes', and a lot of things that are more complex than children are thought to be able to deal with, but not much anime,
if we're being honest, deals with proper complex issues. Or at least, not in any more complex a way than your average US live action TV series like 24 or Star Trek; anime might not all be for kids, but precious little isn't primarily aimed at teenagers (which is an observation, not a criticism, of course). However, there are a handful that are; the odd thing that really stands out and can be held up as an example of how mature and subtle and truly notable anime as a medium, a style or a genre (call it what you will) can be. I'm happy to now be able to add Only Yesterday to that exclusive group.
First of all, Ghibli. I don't really believe in brand names as a rule, but if there's one name that I feel like I can safely and consistently associate with the highest standards and best quality, it's Studio Ghibli. In this case, the famous Hayao Miyazaki is producer rather than in charge, and Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies) is director. In this combination, they are as good as one can expect, but not quite in the way one expects.
The resulting film isn't really as child-friendly as other Ghibli films, in that it's not full of the fun characters and exciting situations that kids will love as they do My Neighbour Totoro or Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds. A glance at the tags area will show you that "slice of life" is the most popular description of this film, and this is even more accurate than the label usually is; it's simply 27-year-old office worker Taeko's mixing of her working holiday on a farm with her reminiscence of her 10-year-old self, and the way this experience makes her question the direction her life is taking. It's also among the best implementations of such an approach I can think of; this slice of life is gripping, and pulls no punches, in its own domesticated but quietly gut-wrenching way. But it's a rare child that appreciates the drama of family relationships, and will stay glued to explorations of the niceties of urban versus rural ways of life and adult versus child ways of thinking. What I'm trying to say is, you may well bore your kids if you mistake this for typical Ghibli and stick them in front of it, but you yourself may be too wrapped up in it to notice.
For those who are striving to convince a sceptic that anime isn't just huge-eyed, twinkling Majikal Girls, spiky-haired swordsmen, giant robots, cutesy animal caricatures and the odd smattering of tentacled obscenity, this is a prime counter-example of "for grown-ups" anime. The acting is superb; Miki Imai as the adult Taeko, Toshiro Yanagiba as her friend Toshio, and Youko Honna as the young Taeko are all natural, believable and thoroughly excellent, and the rest of the cast all just about as talented. The script is possibly the best I've ever encountered in anime, one that's so good it makes scriptwriting look easy. It manages to use naturalistic dialogue to communicate a masterful grasp of the power and impact of memory, of the way tiny things stick in your mind like thorns years down the line, of the way things you learn now can change your personal history utterly at a stroke. This is very much a film that strikes a chord for me; I may be male, English and hate gardening, but as a 26-year-old, I see myself in Taeko, in that I too have memories of childhood that, for some reason, just won't go away sometimes - I think everyone with a little life experience does.
The visuals, too, are of a usual stellar Ghibli standard, with an interesting twist. As I watched, I was partly slightly bothered and partly wondering at the faces of the characters; there's something different, something out of the ordinary, just a bit odd about their depiction, and it wasn't until I watched the DVD's 'making of' extra that it fell into place. What Takahata and crew have done is concentrate on muscles; all the adult characters have realistically sculpted cheekbones and other facial contours that aren't usually present even in the most exactingly drawn anime. It manages to pick up tiny nuances of facial expression that give characters a much wider and finer emotional range than normal. The effect is one of hyperrealism; in this very rare instance, I found I was able to read faces as if I were watching live action, and I was forgetting this was hand-animated. Other details, such as the incredibly fine use of colour, are more like standard fare for Ghibli but none the less impressive for this. One standout scene is a sunrise over the field in which Taeko is working, which is both gorgeous and technically amazing. The slight but notable use of faded earthy colours and reds for scenes from Taeko's past and the bright, predominantly green-blue scenes of the present-day are very well executed; it's never unclear when we are seeing.
Music by Masaru Hoshi is, while not astounding, entirely pleasing, peaceful, and highly appropriate, but here to steal the scene from left field, please welcome the Hungarian folk choir! This odd, odd choice is...just right. It's haunting stuff, full of undertones implying the hidden, benign but huge power of nature (another often-encountered Studio Ghibli calling card) and even though it's not really relevant in any logical way, it simply works. The ending song by Harumi Miyako is a lovely bit of music, and for once, it really fits the film it's attached to.
You could conceivably criticise the film simply for being anime; even in 1991, making a live-action Only Yesterday would not be hard; there's no fantastic landscapes or technology, no gravity defying costumes or hair, nothing out of the ordinary in the film at all. But once again, part of the reason that this is impressive is because it's something of a risk that was taken and which paid off; because it would be easy to do as live-action doesn't necessarily make that a better stylistic choice, but that it works as animation by showcasing novel animation ideas mixed with great talent can do nothing but improve it. Also, the way anime creates its entire world gives an animation some advantages. Firstly, a story like this, all about details, draws attention to those details more effectively if you're watching with half an eye on the look out for art style, as many anime fans do - film a woman picking a flower and it's pretty, but animate one that truly compares, and it's stunning. Also, the way viewers suspend their disbelief constantly for animation allows the impossible to seamlessly integrate into the commonplace. This only happens once, at the end, but in practice it's so naturally and gracefully done, and so basically right, that instead of going "yeah, that was a nice idea", the impact of the scene and the emotional lift it gives you are much more pronounced.
If the film has any weaknesses, it would be pacing; for a film that's by it's nature leisurely and gradual, it is perhaps a touch too leisurely and gradual in places, and while almost all of Taeko's recollections are relevant, perhaps one or two are a bit spare and peripheral. While I'll admit I am sort of blown away by it, I also recognise that it's not perfect, hence a mark knocked off; and yes, you need to be in the right mood to get the most from this film. I've been waiting months since I got it for the right moment; this morning was finally it, and it delivered. Other than that, well, the only way you'll have any criticisms of the film is if, having read this, you decide it's not your sort of thing, then watch it anyway, expecting explosions, car chases or gritty hard-boiled action. That's not this film's brief. What Only Yesterday does is subtlety and maturity and real, proper grown-up drama in anime.
If you want in any way, to see a family eating a pineapple and simply have an intense emotional reaction, almost cry by quietly staring at the characters just moving, if you are tired of the laziness among animators these days in general then I cannot recommend anything other than the remarkable underrated masterpiece:
The reason why Only Yesterday might be the most realistic anime movie of all time is that, they did, care about the smallest things, the characters' movements, their eyes, their mouths, how the whole cast reacts to an action, how they gave everyone enough space to experience their opinions without being
repetitive, how they completed the puzzle and at the same time they focused on our protagonist herself, this is important simply because it prevents predictability, generally helps you breathe with the characters, and doesn't make you feel -disconnected- with their world. Another important reason, if not the most important one, something you might find surprising and was barely done, is that, the audio was recorded before the animation itself which means the movements of the characters would fit their speeches perfectly. The script itself was, without any doubt written by someone who clearly put his soul on this project, to give such attention to the responses and interactions, you might ask what are you talking about but I find it rather simple that scriptwriters these days are lackadaisical.
The movie defines the word "seriousness" in a higher new level, there might be no movie as serious as Only Yesterday, no matter how they try to be, they'll never achieve its level because the most essential way to make a great movie is to never try to be what you want to be, in other words, Only Yesterday's story is so simple, a story about a young girl who travels to the countryside and recalls her memory while she's surrounded with people who love her. The concept is straightforward, but the idea is how to use every detail you have to create something far greater from what you initially started with.
The nostalgic and heart-breaking movie knows how to draw the characters very well with a variety of lines, colors and shades, if you could take a second from your life to stare at one of the characters' faces, I think that would be great and even though I noticed the movie has received countless criticisms about how in some way or another the characters look very similar except for their hairstyles and colors, look no further, to how 'us' look identical, and so I say that the movie has yet achieved another level of realism.
Only Yesterday has never failed to draw a smile on my face the whole two hours thanks to Isao Takahata's great directing skills. The movie is very mature and was released when the word "mature" had no meaning in such films, most anime were filled with blood and action or family oriented or purely directed to kids, I don't think you can give this film to a child expecting to see him knocking at your door the day after explaining how the film has changed his life or anything like that or even expect him to even like it, this was different from Isao Takahata's other works including "Akage no Anne" or "Heidi" for instance cus here, our protagonist is old and in that case, kids didn't get it or appreciate it as much as we did, it was very risky and the idea could have easily been done as life-action.
This movie has realized that it's a butterfly and finally found its wings, but looking back now, maybe it was just flexing them pointlessly.
Only Yesterday, for the people who want to realize that the movies they're watching nowadays are utter shit.
We can notice that there is a tendency to overrate average productions when it comes to their true value. It is probably caused by TV and the fact that the best selling anime are being watched by kids raised on sex and violence occuring in the Internet. Anime based on those two things (sex & violence) shows that it is much easier to make such anime insted of trying to show people something important and valuable. Only Yesterday is one of those "depper" and underrated productions, which can appear on endangered species list soon if that tendecy mentioned before won't be stopped.
First, I have say
that I simply love that kind of storyline. Not only that. The tempo of action is great (in my opinion). Main character (Taeko, if I'm not mistaken) starts her travel (which is actually a travel to reach and understad her real needs and feelings). She is in her 30s, probably. At that piont in life, one must recollect his/her hopes and choose his/her path in life. So, Taeko decided to have a break and go to country. All movie is filled with her remembrances from her childhood. Her younger self (which often appears in her mind, as the action goes on) is personification of her apprehensions and also her childhood dreams filled with innocent and simple thoughts about world, and herself. Story is going slowly but it's just like the way normal life is moving forward, so it's ok. The best thing about the plot is that it's peaceful (but not boring - don't get it wrong) and belivable at the same time.
Landscapes are qutie artistic. Move was aired in 1991, so don't expect graphics on Makoto Shinkai's level. Characters appearance is simple along with all visual aspects, but you can feel this Ghibli magic till the last minute of movie. All I can say, is that my eyes were satisfied.
I have to admit that I don't remember any of background music. So it must have been good (I think I would remember if it was awful). Voice acting is on above-average level. The same when it comes to the ending theme. It summarizes the whole fellings you get while watching this movie. (hint: remember to watch anime till the last chord of ending song !).
Characters are complex, but like everything in Only Yesterday, not too much. Just like they should be. Taeko motives are belivable and you can fell that you fully understand her childhood problems - first love, test results, and all this grwoing-up struggle while she is still a kid. Everyone had to go through those things. Other thing - nowadays we often deal with people who live till 8am to 8pm. Work absorbs all of our strength and youhtful passion. Taeko decided to take a break. What about you? Don't you feel the same way?
In the end, I have to say that we don't have so many animes that we can truly rely on. Only Yesterday shows us the simple matter, but beutifully executed. Daily life with it's problems and enjoyments. Only Yesterday impressed me with it simplicy and serenity. We have a romance motive in here, but it is not a heroic and "die-for" emotion (which we saw sooo many times already) but simple affection that is froming between two people in relationship. For me, it is the most artistic vision of our daily life. No guns, no swords, but remembrances and uncertainty about tomorrow. I enjoyed every minute spent with this magical production, and I reccomend it to everyone who look for some great piece of anime, which Only Tommorow undoubtedly is.
There are plenty of films that can impress you the first time you watch them, but there are only a few that impress you more and more with every subsequent viewing. Only Yesterday is just such a movie, one so rich in depth that the first viewing is only as good as a passing glance at the painting of an old master.
Taeko Okajima is a twenty seven year old office worker in Tokyo. Summer holidays are fast approaching and Taeko is doing what she normally does, and will travel to work on a farm in the countryside. During the course of her journey she experiences
an overwhelming sense of nostalgia and memories of her childhood. It is an effective plot device that allows us to witness two characters developing simultaneously and the influence one has in the formation of the other. Neither are exceptional in the conventional sense either; both of them are quite ordinary and on the face of it, unremarkable. However they are portrayed in such detail that they become fascinating.
The careful selection of a few key moments in a lifetime, many quite mundane in themselves, and weaving them into a solid depiction of a person that could be real and yet still maintaining the intrigue and direction of a complete story is an incredible achievement. One example is a scene in which the family gather to try Pineapples for the first time: on the face of it an unremarkable experience which most wouldn't care to mention. Yet in this one sequence we can learn so much about the characters: Taeko's father merely sighs, completely isolated from the rest of the family (of which he is the only male). Finding the taste bitter, Taeko and her sisters express their disgust. It symbolises the extinguishing of youthful optimism as one enters the stream of disappointments in adulthood. The transition into puberty is the driving theme behind Taeko's younger self, and the pineapple scene is only one of many illustrations of that difficult period of life.
Even though as adults we have all gone through that stage of life, when it is depicted in cinema it is often hard to take it seriously, and often characters of that age come across as simply bratty. Taeko’s character has these traits too but there is a balance to her character that prevents them from becoming overwhelming. When contrasted with the difficulties one faces as an adult, the problems of pre-teens seem inconsequential; so dwelling on them in cinema usually comes across as insignificant or even worse, just meaningless whining. This problem is alleviated in Only Yesterday by having Taeko’s older self to put them into balance, with her downplaying them after her reminiscence. What is truly masterful though is the way the audience can see their significance to the grown up Taeko, despite her modesty and our internal prejudices. This is what gives her character a sense of realness which I consider unmatched in film.
The overarching plot of the film is a fairly simple love story, unremarkable in itself, but built up by so much and portrayed so convincingly that one cannot help but weep at the beauty of it. Taeko meets a farmer called Toshio and feels quite smitten by his quaint, country ways; his eccentric taste in music, his dutiful politeness that exceeds into awkwardness. He is a representation of what Taeko finds so endearing about country life without being a crass characterisation of it. Yet as her time in the country goes on and her return to Tokyo looms, Taeko is faced with an internal crisis about whether the realities of the country life can match what she has fantasised about for so long, and if she really has what it takes to leave the comforts of Tokyo office life for one which, as she gradually begins to realise, faces a great deal more hardship for much less material reward. The love story is a touching and satisfying one, and it manages to achieve this for its own sake while still having a complexity which is often lacking in romance stories.
While one would be content to say nothing more about this film than the fantastic story and characters, it feels unfair to avoid discussion of the animation and artwork, which is also astoundingly innovative. Studio Ghibli of course have a reputation for the very high quality of the animation they produce, but one can’t help but think of their work as a touch conservative. Beautiful though it is, it often lacks the experimentation one can find in other animation studios. Only Yesterday is an exception to this in two regards- first the difference in styles between the past and the present and the seamless integration of the two, and the clever approach to speech animation.
To provide a visual clue as to the era portrayed in a particular scene, the animation style changes. Taeko’s childhood is depicted in a style similar to a manga of that period- cheerful, simplistic and less defined. Not only does this seem fitting for the time period it also emphasises that these scenes are memories. Areas that Taeko is very familiar with, such as her family home, are depicted more clearly than the places that lack any special significance, like streets in the area. Yet this is subtle, and something one only notices if paying close attention. On the other hand the present day is portrayed in a well defined and realistic manner, with an eye to portraying even the most seemingly trivial details in a true to life form.
The animation of speech in Only Yesterday reversed the typical process, and instead of attempting to match the dialogue to movement of the mouths of the characters, the voice actors recorded the speech first, and animation staff paid close attention to the mouth movements of the voice actors as they recited their lines. This means the characters facial expressions are far more representative of real human emotions than in other animated works, and are not exaggerated or comical. It is further testimony to the realism of the picture that its producers went to such great lengths to integrate these qualities into areas, even defying convention in the process.
Only Yesterday is a work of fiction, with animated characters instead of actors. Yet there is more humanity here than in most cinematic works. It is a work of such wonder and intellect, that it is impossible to escape an overwhelming sense of awe every time you retrace your steps along this magnificent journey into the countryside, and to feel the tears welling up inside when it comes to an end. It is the very essence of all that is beautiful.
Script - Some chick is going to the field to spend some time away from the noisy city and there she reminds of her youth, and well, that's it. It's adapted from an episodic manga and the idea was to gather certain moments of the protagonist's past as a cohesive feeling of nostalgia. Taking a look at the interactions you'll notice they are rather realistic, with uncomfortable silences and stares at every corner. Now, maybe is just me but I grew up in a family where I was the youngest brother and man, that sucks. My two brothers were very close and I felt very
isolated, just like the protagonist. It's a sort of loneliness that's so subtle and quite unnoticed, but as sad as any other, even more if you don't actually have any friends. Now, with that kind of background, I felt intrigued by how subtle is the construction of the sisters' ties and how they work just like I imagine they should. The cold treatment coming from her father and having to accept unfairness because of culture and tradition, yeah, that sucks and happens. More than often you'll remember the opportunities you missed, things left undone and alike. This show is basically about bad memories being somehow inspiring or invigorating. The conclusion is the protagonist making a strong decision that can be right, can be wrong, but it's done. You know what people say, it's better to regret doing something than not doing it. Kind of disagree on that, but part of a character's charm is that they can decide for themselves, going against the idea of fatalism. It's not that poignant, complex, thought-provoking or fun to watch, but as far as it goes it's relatable enough and kind of charming in its naturalism and simplicity. It feels more genuine than most of Ghibli's works.
Cinematography - Takahata is better than Miyazaki, period. The character design is fine, and I do love those dimples on her cheek. I wish more characters could have such a trait to define them more than just 'anime character #001'. The animation is fluid enough and slow, just like I want it to be. The white edges around memories are a quite common visual strategy, but it works just fine. Nothing is really impressive, but it never fails and feels as good as it looks on the cover.
Sound - Are you ready to some catchy Romanian flute theme that'll stick to your head forever? At least it's good, you can't deny. Normal voices? Is this an anime? Apparently not, because they really speak as normal people do. Not just in term of voice acting, but also the lines of dialogue sound so natural and the timing feels so real. You feel like interrupting them at any point due to the level of immersion.
1234 - The ending should've been open, but no, she had to stay with the guy. Don't know if this is how the manga ended, but they had the chance of doing differently and let us wondering what path she decided for herself. It's so rounded that's not spicy.
This show is relaxing af, and while I have no problems with simplicity, I don't think it's that good just because I could relate to the protagonist. I praise the realistic depiction of memories, nostalgia and interactions, but that's pretty much everything to see here. Not gonna lie, felt bored while watching it sometimes. Only by the end my interest raised and the conclusion was really, really just... there. So, to be fair, the depiction of realism always hit me in one way or another, that's it I guess. The End.
What? A two for a Studio Ghibli movie. How preposterous! Yes, yes I know. However I have some VERY good reasons for it, I promise.
Now I looooovvvveee Studio Ghibli movies. They are always beautifully drawn and animated, the stories are unique, and the characters are cute and quirky (with the exception of Princess Mononoke).
What I liked about this movie:
-it's art style
-The funny flashbacks
What I didn't like about it:
-For a movie tagged for romance, there really isn't a whole lot of actual romance in the time setting of the movie
-The flashbacks were great but didn't really fit smoothly in the movie itself.
-the love interest isn't who I was expecting it was going to be (which can be ok but in this movie was a little redundant.)
-it told a lot of story in a short amount of time which made the movie seem longer.
Only Yesterday is a very uncomfortable sit, and I'm not just talking about the twenty minutes dedicated to young girl's periods. The film's world is fairly well animated, but it looks and feels very empty, giving the story a depressing mood as if someone died. I want to mostly talk about the plot generally so I'll get everything else out of the way quickly.
Art: Looks pretty good, but the simple style can sometime exasperate the feeling of emptiness
Sounds: I like the soundtrack, but a few moments during the film the music is unnecessarily kitschy.
Character: Most characters are ether mean spirited, self-centred, kooky, or boring. I
can't even imagine how most of these characters were supposed to be endearing since they were defined by negative traits (besides the dad because he has the best delivery).
Ok the story is absolute garbage. I assume that they were going for some sort of coming-of-age drama, that was supposed to have a nostalgic feel for the audience. Did it achieve that.........no. The flashbacks to Taeko Okajima grade five self seem to have little to no baring on the present day's story other than the fact that she has changed a lot since she was in grade five, so immediately the majority of the film can be disregarded plot wise. The present day is also flooded with thinking about the past or just sitting around feeling good about life with the occasional "decisions are hard" conflict. I have praised a movie like Ocean Waves for having a loose plot and lack of important events, but in Only Yesterday's case it presents everything from Taeko grade five life as being important to the present. Sitting through the movie you feel like you're watching two different unfinished films that were jammed together in the hopes of making it to 118 minutes.
To be fair the grade five parts of the movie if expanded could have been made into something good, same thing kind of goes for the present day. As it stands currently both parts lack a real ending to there plot lines and never create a world you want to stay in.
there are a lot of things that can be said about this but im just going to point out some that stick out the most.
the movie itself is one of a woman who questions herself about her life more or less in a nutshell. the intro and some other music in this movie was calming and made portions of the movie seem serene which was a nice touch. the art work would have achieved a better score if it weren't for one thing and this is just my opinon, but did any one else notice how bizzar looking Okajima looked everytime she smiled? she did
not look 27 at all when she did, but more older.
the story line did not appeal to me as i hoped it would and was bothered by the fact that her life in just the 5th grade was just downright awful and made me wonder and would bring that up a lot and the result of this i started to get bored.this and the the artwork is what resulted in the character's score and the boredom was more or less just left a thought of "why just fifth grade? could there perhaps been worse times after that?" the final thought at the end was that there was a resolve and she was finally able to figure out what was missing in her life like Shel Silversteins book "The Missing Piece". which saved itself from me giving it any lower then a three.
overall: less pity 5th grade. liked the 5th grade her and kids making her move at the end.she should smile less, it creeps me out. i would give it a 3.5 and it would be categorized as a meh.
Only Yesterday understands the nuances of childhood nostalgia. I think to a certain degree we all want to relive the simplicity and easygoing nature of our childhood, but unfortunately reality has other plans. Depending on where we are in life, our childhood memories can play a huge part in understanding where we came from, and why we are the way we are today. Only Yesterday takes this idea and creates a movie out of it, and it’s something that’s incredibly relatable, no matter your age.
Only Yesterday is visually breathtaking. As you would expect from Studio Ghibli, this movie is beautiful from start to finish. The
backdrops for each scene are incredibly detailed, and all the countryside scenes were an absolute marvel to watch. Those scenes perfectly captured the still beauty of Japan’s quieter towns, the small details were all there, and it had some of the most beautifully animated settings I’ve ever seen.
The music was superb, but the quiet moments were perfect. Only Yesterday masters the art of silence. It is in the quiet moments of the movie that I found myself enthralled. Takahata’s direction made the story at the center of this beautiful movie, and through incredibly timed soundtracks that cut to utter silence, the movie highlights the beauty in the quiet details that define our life.
A refreshing watch, uniquely honest and fascinating. This story is in many ways, something we can all relate to. It goes at the pace of real life, and makes the choice of slowly revealing the inner workings of the main character Taeko. It’s through her childhood memories that we see her true personality, and how it mirrors the humble woman she’s become. In many ways we don’t have major personality changes over our lifetime, and our inner child remains the honest voice within us. Taeko is a true embodiment of that, and through understanding her past she comes to know the woman she is today.
To summarize my points from above, the original yet relatable story, the stunning visuals, the incredibly honest direction… they all make this movie a worthwhile watch. I highly recommend this movie for josei enthusiasts, and anyone looking for something incredibly unique in their anime library.
It's been a while since I've watched this, so bear with me...
The story switches back and forth between the now grown up main character- Taeko Okajima – and her childhood self. Although many seem to dub the story unoriginal I beg to differ, the setting and style is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Yes I must agree that the underlying aspect of the story; did my life really turn out the way I want it to? - is rather weak. However I like to think that things like whether it’s weak or not can be changed dramatically by directing and art, which this story
succeeds in, therefore supplying the whole story with quite a strong and actually rather beautiful tone to it. I think the story is emotional and quite enjoyable however some may find fault with its more cliché aspects (such as how Taeko’s childhood self deals with parents, puberty and boys) but in my personal opinion the fabulous directing of Isao Takahata moves these aspects away from nauseating and more into heart-touching.
Although the art may make some people back away (as Taeko is most definitely not a wide-eyed girl whom belongs in a shōjo anime), I think the artwork is actually pretty charming. I praise Studio Ghibli for never having any awkward movement or pauses; everything seems to flow as it would in real-life. Speaking of real-life, this anime definitely succeeds in that area. All the settings and character designs are very believable for the era! Personally I find the young Taeko very adorable and the adults are quite plain which is indeed a good representation of life. With this sort of not detailed yet at the same time detailed artwork you either love it or you hate it, though personally I loved it.
I think the music wasn’t bad however it certainly isn’t very mentionable. Quite frankly it reminded me of spa music (very relaxing) however towards the end it was more like elevator music (incredibly annoying). The same goes for the voice actors; they did an okay job but nothing came up that would particularly stand out. Although I would usually be bowing down to Youko Honna for her skills I was a little surprised that her voice sounded so droning, making it not all entirely pleasant to listen to. Never the less I’d say it was decent enough but hardly note-worthy.
I cannot praise the character’s personalities enough for Only Yesterday; they showed such a range of people with such intriguing words to say. I loved how nothing was vague about the character’s but more open about what sort of people they where, yet through all the character-faults I found an amazing explanation of why I was enjoying this movie so much and that was because I didn’t dislike a single one of the characters. They where all so life-like in their pro’s and con’s that I couldn’t help but feel myself get sucked in their world. It is something I would say you would have to experience for yourself; however the characters are most definitely deserving of a 10.
This was a beautiful anime movie that touched upon a disturbing truth that many of us think about day in and day out of our life’s; did my life turn out the way I wanted it to as a child? Was I true to my childhood dreams? I can admit that the whole topic reduced me to tears and was something you could really think about afterwards. I truly did enjoy Only Yesterday and I found it to be cliché yet completely unique. There was never a boring moment...or a dry-eyed moment for that matter. It made me smile afterwards which I am sure is a sign of success for any anime.
If you’re hesitant I encourage watching this, not only is it entertaining and romantic but also a real slice of life that will really get you thinking. It’s realistic and sad yet completely cheerful. A real subject that many of us cry over touched upon so gently in such a way only Studio Ghibli could do. If you’re a continuing Ghibli fan then you won’t be disappointed and if this is your first time...well...be prepared to get out the hanker-chiefs.
An almost unknown film of Ghibli that although does not count on the magic of the other films shows us another great history of quality that is something difficult to understand for certain people.
The story of Taeko is a pure and literal slice of life that may be tedious to see in certain parts for those who do not like this genre.
The quality of animation was not much to my liking and the Soundtrack is quite difficult to perceive.
I really liked the part where "the past" meets "the present" giving an end to the story to the height of other Ghibli films.
If you like (rather)
the slice of life stories you must see this work of Isao Takahata full of nostalgia that will surely remind you of some parts of your childhood.
There are two people with us at any given moment... There’s the person we currently are, who’s in charge of every decision we have to make as it comes to us, and there’s the person we remember being. This can be the person we were back in school, where we wistfully wish we’d applied ourselves harder; This can be the person we were last week, when we wish things had played out differently on that date or that big important meeting; This can be the person we were when we were much smaller, as we reflect on how that child could have ever
become the adult we are now. For Taeko Okajima, that person is her fifth grade self, and it has been for a while. There was just something about that age, when she stood awkwardly on the cusp of womanhood, that she can’t help but relate to as she navigates the equally confusing path into her late twenties.
As a child growing up in Tokyo, Taeko had dreamed of visiting the countryside like most of her friends, but she didn’t have any family there, and her family didn’t really have the time or resources to uproot and vacation somewhere that they had no connection to. Now, fully grown, and with one of her older sisters married to a man from an extended farming family, Taeko has taken to using her vacations from work to visit her in-laws and work in their fields, which fills her with a satisfaction that she could never get before. This time, she’s going to be picking safflowers, a beautiful, thistle-like yellow crop that is used to make red dye and rouge. It’s not her first working trip, but with the charming Toshio picking her up, and with some of her strongest nostalgic recollections finally getting unexpected resolutions, will there be more to this vacation than she bargained for?
So, there’s this small animation studio that I haven’t gotten to in any of my reviews yet. It’s kind of obscure... You may have heard of it... Studio Ghibli? Yeah, I know, but trust me, it’s a pretty big deal in some small circles. All joking aside, I’m kind of ashamed that it took me this long to talk about one of their titles, but if I’m going to start doing so, then I figured I should start with my favorite movie of theirs... And surprisingly, it was NOT directed by their biggest name, Hayao Miyazaki. He produced it, but the screenwriting and directing was handled by Isao Takahata, the same man who directed one of their most renowned works, Grave of the Fireflies. He also did two of their less-beloved titles, Pom Poko and My Neighbors the Yamadas, but I haven’t seen either of those apparent bombs, so I’ll hold off on judgement. He actually passed away a few months ago, which really should have been bigger news, since his final film, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, was actually quite successful.
An astute viewer may notice right off the bat that this film was animated and drawn in two completely different styles. It takes place in two different time periods, one being Taeko’s childhood in the sixties, and the other being her adulthood in the eighties. The material taking place in the eighties has a more modern, realistic feel to it, with the image being crisp all around, both people and backgrounds being exquisitely and intricately detailed, down to the smallest safflower, and to the lines on an adult’s face(which, unfortunately, makes Taeko look 47 instead of 27 in some shots). The childhood material, in contrast, is a lot more cartoony, with character designs looking slightly more anime-ish(that’s vague, I know, but you’ll see what I mean when you watch it), with the more simplified features, and slightly more blurry backgrounds, and an over-all presentation that has a kind of haze to it. When characters from this period show up in the later period(which happens), they seem eerily out of place, which was of course intentional.
Thankfully, this difference in style doesn’t come with any drop-off in budget, as Only Yesterday is insanely well animated, especially when you consider that it’s such a normal, down to earth story with no real action scenes to speak of. There’s like one flying scene(because this is Ghibli, and those are pretty much contractually guaranteed), but the rest of the movie is just people interacting and doing various activities, like driving around, working, and talking. It really doesn’t need to be animated as fluidly or as gracefully as it is, but all of the extra motion in peoples’ movements and facial expressions makes the film feel a lot more immersive, as if you were actually there with them, and even when they’re doing the most mundane things imaginable, like visiting the baths or eating various fruits at the table, you want to be there with them. There were parts where I honestly suspected the use of rotoscoping, but that’s obviously not true... The Ghibli studio is known for their lavish budgets(most of the time), and Only Yesterday obviously benefited from this.
Being that this is a film and not a series, there isn’t much I can say about the soundtrack, but that’s a matter of quantity, and not of quality. For only being two hours long, the music in this movie is still beautiful, another one of Ghibli’s more consistent marks of excellence. There were multiple composers on this project, and in addition to the obvious few Japanese composers and their wonderful piano work, there were a few from eastern europe, as well, with the Hungarian Gheorghe Zamfir bringing in a few joyous, uplifting flute melodies, and there were also a handful of festive tracks from Hungarian artist Marta Sebestyen, who also lends her haunting vocals at times. I’m not sure whether or not I should be surprised by this, because I’ve heard western songs being adopted as motifs in anime before, You Raise Me Up for Romeo X Juliet and Country Road from Whisper of the Heart being the most obvious examples, but Only Yesterday uses a cover Bette Midler’s The Rose, which honestly doesn’t fit the movie as well as it sounds, but the way it’s used does work emotionally, so i’ll let that slide.
Before I start talking about the dub, there’s something I’d like to point out about the original sub, and that’s that much like the animation and aesthetic, the two time periods were also recorded differently. The childhood material was recorded in traditional ADR fashion, with the character’s lip flaps animated first so that the actors could dub their lines over it, but the adult material? That was done in Pre-lay, which is much more rare in Japanese productions. This is how western animation is recorded. They had the actors do their lines first, and then they animated over the performances, and if you’re wondering how this is such a huge difference, it’s because instead of people having to match animation, animation had to match people, and the result is far more realistic, as the actors could talk naturally, and the animation was able to capture their mannerisms and vocal quirks. This was another huge element in the disjointed feeling between a childhood memory and what’s happening in the here and now.
Quite a few people were scared that any dub of the movie would lose sight of this, and both sides of the story would be homogenized and just sound the same, but I’m happy to report that this is not the case. The people who dubbed this title knew damn well what they were doing, and while I can’t really put my finger on why, the performances on the pre-lay side of things sound far more grounded and down to earth than the ADR characters, who sound more like what you’d expect from an older anime dub... If I had to guess, it might be because while her childhood memories are populated mainly by actors who mostly each have a significant background in voice acting, the actors playing the two main roles in her adult life don’t have this benefit, having not done any voice work outside of video games prior to voicing for this film, and thus were a much better fit for what was supposed to be the more natural sounding side of the dub.
Who are these actors, you may ask? In typical Ghibli fashion, the lead roles aren’t played by career voice actors, but by predominantly hollywood actors, and I’d dare to say that it work better here than it does in most of their films. Taeko is played by Daisy Ridley, whom the worst of you know as the Mary-Sue who ruined Star Wars with a pro-feminist SJW agenda. Screw all y’all, I loved her in the new Star Wars movies, and I love her in this dub, where she puts aside her British accent and manages to sound convincingly older than she really was at the time, being only 24 when voicing the 27 year old Taeko, and her voice actually sounds a lot deeper and wearier than she actually sounds in interviews. It’s honestly kinda hard to tell that it’s her without knowing ahead of time. I would call her the best performance in the dub, but surprisingly, I’d have to instead give that honor to Alison Fernandez, an american child actor who played her younger self in the flashbacks. She’s been acting since she was seven, and she’s built up a pretty solid resume since then... If you need a great example of this, she was in Logan.
Dev Patel, who rose to fame in Slumdog millionaire and tried his damnedest to not suck in The Last Airbender, was NOT able to ditch his british accent for his role as the loveable Toshio, but that’s one of the things that become more tolerable when you find out that he just recently moved to the countryside to farm. His accent kinda sticks out, but his performance is good enough that you can suspend disbelief and take him seriously. Ashley Eckstein, whom you may know as Ahsoka from the recent Star Wars cartoons, plays one of Taeko’s older sister, arguably the one who’s featured most prominently, and she was a good choice for it, as she and Alison have the right kind of tough love dynamic. Tara Strong has a small but substantial role as Naoko, a teenage member of Toshio’s family, and while there isn’t much for her to work with, she still makes it work. The only real issue I have with the dub is that the adult portion happens in the eighties, but there’s still some modern slang in there... At it’s worst, Taeko saying “Sho nuff” is a bit cringey, but it’s still a dub that shattered expectations.
So if you knew anything about this movie prior to 2016, you probably knew it as one of the mysterious two Ghibli movies that had somehow not been brought to america yet. These movies remained something of a mystery for any anime fan who wasn’t desperate enough to scrounge for a halfway decent fandub, if for no other reason than to figure out why they’d been left behind. now, for Ocean Waves, this was easy... It simply wasn’t very good, and unlike the worst of Ghibli’s output, it wasn’t interestingly bad either. It was just an unremarkable film that didn’t make a compelling case for existing. Only Yesterday, on the other hand, was much more successful, and had some actual acclaim behind it, so why was it forgotten? Well, from what I’ve heard, Disney got a bit shy over an extended flashback that dealt with puberty and children getting their periods. That may seem ridiculous to you now, but this was over twenty-five years ago. Going back just ten years ago, to the 2000s, and kids media couldn’t come within spitting distance of the topic of death, so it makes sense they’d have found this questionable back in the early nineties.
It did eventually get a theatrical release two years ago, alongside it’s cousin Ocean Waves, and if there’s any specific reason for it, I’d venture that there were two reasons; The first is the existence of the internet and the film’s rising cult popularity, and the second is that Only Yesterday was never really a children's’ movie, and only in the last few years has the appeal of the animated medium to adults become more obvious to studios. This is a very adult movie, and I’m not referring to content... It’s technically safe, provided that a child has the proverbial parental guidance to explain the period-stuff, but I’m honestly not sure it would successfully hold a younger audiences’ interest, especially at it’s already taxing two hour run time. This is a decisively mature film, and it’s meant to be viewed by mature people, almost any of whom will find something relatably nostalgic in the deeply intimate narrative.
Of course, that’s not saying you have to be a child to find some parts of this movie boring. I certainly did, at least the first time around. It is, at it’s core, a slice of life movie, and a lot of what happens in it doesn’t initially seem to be important. There are several long, extensive conversations that seem to go nowhere, particularly in the adult portions of the story, and there are some scenes where they spend full minutes not even doing that. This isn’t the kind of storytelling westerners are used to... It doesn’t really follow any standard rules of story structure, very little ever comes back in any obvious way, and with it’s considerable run time, it can feel overstuffed at even the best of moments. It’s obvious that Takahata was going for a more realistic feeling story, as though it were a sequence of events that was more true to life than the average story, but that kind of thing rarely works in cinema, with the bulk of M Knight Shyamalan’s filmography being the perfect example of how this can go wrong... So how does Only Yesterday do it right?
I’ve seen this movie twice, and to be frank, I loved it SO much more the second time around. The first time, I WAS getting bored, I WAS wondering what all of the fluff was leading up to... And then, like a lot of other viewers(and in fact, like a lot of other REviewers), I was finally able to put it all together in the final minutes of the movie, right after the credits began to roll and The Rose started playing. In the final scene, everything clicked. I won’t spoil what happens, but to put it in vague terms, Taeko is given a choice to make, and it’s potentially one of the most important choices of her life, and the follow-through made for an immensely satisfying conclusion. This is a movie about growing up, which is common for Ghibli films, but where most of them are about children becoming adults, this one is about adults becoming adults, and that’s by no means a rare topic, but it’s still refreshing to see it done in this way. It’s a reminder that as adults, we have a kind of agency that we didn’t have as children, and there’s no reason we can’t pursue what were once impossible fantasies. We choose where we belong, we choose where we end up.
Of course, there is one glaring flaw in the film... As amazing a director as Isao Takahata was, he always had a habit of sneaking social commentary into his work, and while this may have worked out well in Grave of the Fireflies, which contained a message that the Japanese youth of the time desperately needed to hear, this one feels like extremely slanted propaganda in favor of people getting into traditional farming. Toshio will NOT shut the hell up about his feelings on the subject, how it’s a field of work that needs to be kept alive, and how important it is to be connected to nature, and while it’s easy to write off his zeal as the passion of one whose eyes were opened to it late in life(everyone who was raised on it is much more easy-going about it), it oversteps it’s bounds by constantly insinuating that country folk are all around better quality people than city folk, painting them as superior in worth and attitude, when this really isn’t fair. Both walks of life contain good people and shitty people, which can leave the film feeling heavy-handed at points. Thankfully, it’s not a big enough issue to sully the experience.
Only Yesterday is available from Gkids, on both DVD and Bluray format. The original 1982 manga of the same title by Hotaru Okamoto and Yuko Tone is not available stateside.
Only Yesterday is a wonderful film, and I’m so glad that it was able to reach our side of the world while Isao Takahata was still alive. It may not be his best film, as Grave of the Fireflies was obviously superior, and it may not be as an powerful experience as it was for me, but it’s still my personal favorite, not just of his movies, but of Studio Ghibli’s movies. It falters a bit from making an unconvincing first impression, and from it’s ham-fisted agenda, but it all comes together in the end, making for a much more engaging experience the second time around. Your mileage may vary, but I found myself crying at the end upon both of my viewings, and in a weird way, it was one of the factors that led me to deciding that I wanted to come back to writing reviews again. It’s stunningly directed and animated, making it easily Studio Ghibli’s most underrated films, although maybe not one of their over-all best, but that’s not saying much when you consider the amount of perfect and almost perfect films that make up their filmography. I give Only Yesterday an 8/10.
Director Isao Takahata (Gauche the Cellist) with Studio Ghibli behind him brought one of the most progressive anime films of all time, Only Yesterday. This anime was significant in the fact that it was outside of anime tradition and was a realistic drama aimed primarily at women.
For the plot, it is amazingly simplistic, but brings about deep thought in the main character, 27 year old Taeko and in turn the audience. She is travelling on a ten day sabbatical from her melancholy job in Tokyo to the countryside of her brother-in-law. From there, Taeko starts to have strange recollections of her past, specifically fifth grade;
a significant stage of her life. From there, Taeko struggles between her adult self and the ten-year-old she left behind.
The theme is how one particular moment in time shapes your life, and how it impacts Taeko into thinking back on it during her time on the countryside. There is also a large Eastern European aspect to the film with most of the music shaping the scenes from such countries as Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania. All of which, at the time, were in tough times due to the fall of communism impacting a culture of people. This is significant into understanding how Taeko looks at her current self and her past self. Is she true to her childhood self? Where is she at in life, how does she wants to go on living? Are her memories whether good or bad important enough to remember?
Due to the films level of realism, such flashback scenes like Taeko struggling through puberty or even down to the realistic facial artwork being animated over the voice acting first, Only Yesterday is incredibly relatable to past and present.
In short, this is a slow realistic anime. Although at times, 27 year-old Taeko’s decisions may seem perplexing, and why fifth grade in particular is the year that shaped her life remains a mystery, Only Yesterday is a nice relaxing watch for an older audience.
As a Ghibli, this movie is unique.
It has no generic plot line like most other Ghiblis. (Girl-Guy relationship with mysterious strangers coming outta nowhere to help them fight an enemy.)
...unlike Ghiblis, it's relatively boring : It takes 60 mins for the film to finally engage a problem other than in flashbacks, where the main character is a child, acts childishly, etc, thus making the whole tension be pretty much unimportant (for the most part)... 'not saying the first hour is bad though, it's filled with nostalgic Japanese culture, flash backs, and realism : This movie is very realistic, to the point it feels like some
friend is telling you a (flashback)story. It's nice, but you have to make the effort to listen to it.
So basically, this is a movie to watch when you AREN'T bored and you want to relax, and it's also a movie that you should watch alone, because spending time with a friend watching this would make you terribly annoyed, because it's not "fun" but rather "beautiful(artistic)".
I bought this DVD for two reasons. One, because it's Studio Ghibli. Two, because it's about a girl reflecting on her life and her childhood (as the back of the box puts it 'growing up and growing older') and I'm always drawn to films with this theme (for obvious reasons). And it turned out to be even better than I'd expected. I was crying by the end. I think I'd even go as far as to say that it's my favourite, along with My Neighbour Totoro and Whisper of the Heart. I couldn't choose between the three. It's about a 27 year old girl from
Tokyo who goes to the countryside to spend her summer working on a farm, and finds herself dwelling on her childhood. Her adult life and her childhood memories are touching and wonderful, and although it's set both in the 60s and the 80s, it's a really timeless story. I really recommend it. (Unfortunately for some of you though, it's not been released in the US, apparently because Disney feel it's not compatible with their image. It's a shame, because it's a lovely film and it seems like they're mistaking cultural differences for inappropriateness as well as just being a bit prudish.)
When your inner self starts remembering past memories and those enjoyable times and can't just forget those lovely memories. Only Yesterday or japanese titled "Omohide poro poro" is touching movie for Isao Takahata. I watched this movie yesterday and I really loved it.
Story: - 10
Story is pretty simple and it's nice to follow because your hearing the story by narrator who is telling it for. Now why these story just drives in it's because you can easily relate to characters I am sure many of us has some or less school memories and other memories. Story is not boring at all it's starts with
slow pacing but picks up pacing pretty fast. Why I like this story so much is that it's gives 2 viewpoints adult's and child. It's also describing very well daily japanese high school life and shows what kind of life experiences Taeko has to go through.
Animation / Art: - 10
It's no actually suprise why Takahata got so well known after movie got good reviews for people. It's because Takahata's art style is simple and he has this own called realism world where everything he creates turns into realistic and beautiful art. Everything in this movie is made really realistic expect characters. But all the backgrounds are like they were shown into nature. Which is really impressive. I think I now know why Miyazaki left for the first screening without saying word to Takahata. Because he was so pissed that Takahata did found this inner realism world. Animation is actually pretty unique it's reminds me like old cartoons. You will be blown away with art style Takahata is created into this movie.
Music: - 10
Music in Only Yesterday is actually peaceful there is heard many type music like wonderful piano tunes and Hungarian farm music. Also I noticed there was a bit of latino music mixed with Spanish and Japanese music. The main theme of the movie is actually opera tune which gives nice atmosphere for the movie. Overall ghibli did good job with music only this time they didn't use so many musical instruments or themes.
Characters: - 9
Characters in this movie are drawn really well considering this was all hand made. They actually had emotional feelings and expressions so they could act for with feelings. There is many side characters which didn't got so much to be in screen all the time. It would be cool if these characters would appear a little more. Because Taeko's father motive where never really told. And mother and all the sisters where just like decorations in the film. However film was really focused in Taeko's both side which was greatly done.
Enjoyment: - 10
I was really whole time watching this movie and focusing all the stuff that was going on in the screen. There really wasn't time that I would felt like movie was boring no it's actually pretty interesting to see when people starts remembering old and good times. If you like romantic, imagination and magical stories and you are big Studio Ghibli fan I am pretty sure you enjoy this a lot.
Voice acting: - 9
I really thought voice acting was also one of the reasons why movie delivered all the fans wanted it to deliver. Even there where young children voicing characters they did pretty good job with the script. I really have to say I liked Taeko's younger voice better than her old voice. Because it was just so cute when she talked in her younger voice. Also she really does sounded like spoiled brat which was hilarious.
Overall: - 10
Only Yesterday is animation masterpiece from the old animator Isao Takahata from himself. He really get's people to also starts remembering their old memories and he can surely made great experiences with his skills. Takahata surely focused this movie a lot and hard job paid in the end.
This movie is not half bad. When I watched I thought it was boring at first and was going to drop it but as the movie went on it turn out to be okay. I have to say this movie is hard to understand and if you do not look at the details than it might be hard. After the movie, I started looking back to my past and found some little things that I still have. This is a cute little movie gets you thinking about the things you had or still have. I have to say though this movie should be watched by
an adult or late teens. Children can watch but I do not believe they would truly understand. That is my opinion of course. Overall I have to say this movie was good.
I'm not good at writing reviews but i just want to say what i liked about this anime: remembering yourself as a child and the important memories at that age and how they make a person develop.
And i was surprised to hear hungarian and rumanian national music on the soundtrack. ^^
Few people can make you feel nostalgic for a time and a place you've never been, but that has always been one of Takahata's biggest strengths. There is a certain kind of magic surrounding his films, whilst they still are very grounded in reality. And nowhere else does Takahata show this as well as he does in Only Yesterday.
Throughout the film, we constantly switch between the present and the past. Whenever we are in the past, the art style becomes softer and almost dreamlike. It's also in the past where we see the more fantastical elements of the film, the best example being when Taeko
literally starts flying through the skies after a positive encounter with a boy. Moments like these make the audience connect with young Taeko and it's always easy to understand how she is feeling.
Adult Taeko is not always as easy to understand. While young Taeko is simply a memory, adult Taeko is real, and with that comes the very real problem of actually understanding yourself. Taeoko feels so real that it's easy to think she lives in the same world as the audience does, and your opinion of the film will probably vary depending on how close Taeko's life situation is from your own. I first watched this film when I was 18, and enjoyed it. But rewatching it now at 24, it resonated with me on a completely different level. My own memories from my childhood are getting hazier and I'm more often faced with uncertainty of my choices in life. And I reckon that rewatching the film in a few years, might leave me with an even stronger impression.
The story of the young Taeko is adapted from a manga of the same name, whilst the adult story is written by Takahata. By creating this framing device, Takahata elevates the film and makes it into a more adult experience. As long as there are confused, nostalgic adults, this film will always have an audience. There are other films with more extraordinary animation and art design (including Takahata's own "Princess Kaguya"), but no animated film feels more real and human than Only Yesterday.
Only Yesterday is a fantastic slow paced slice of life film.
Taeko is a unmarried woman in her 20s living in the city on holiday in the countryside. She reminisces about her time when she was 10 years old, while getting close to a local farmer, and getting to know the locals and spending time with family in the countryside.
Taeko and her experiences, both as an adult and child are very relatable. The film jumps between present time and to when she was 10 years old. The flashbacks consists of her memories like her first crush, or struggling with maths, or following your dreams. This
is all happening while Taeko, in her 20s questions what she wants to do in life now. The challenges and experiences she has is something we can all relate too, from the smaller moments like eating something new for the first time (she tries pineapple), or a first crush, and puberty. Only Yesterday is very grounded in reality and makes it very believable.
This is a very slow paced film. The film has very little plot and I wouldn’t recommend this to someone who only watches fast paced movies. But this is undoubtably a very well crafted film by Takahata. Only Yesterday is vastly different from other more fantastical Studio Ghilbli films like Spirited Away or Howl’s Moving Castle. For any fan of slice of life films, this is a must see.
Constructive feedback for this review is appreciated :)