Sep 22, 2019
Optigisa (All reviews)
Omoide Poroporo, otherwise known as Only Yesterday, is one of the most underrated movies to have ever come out of Studio Ghibli’s discography. It is easily the best made movie in Ghibli’s history when it comes to the visual presentation, and Takahata here showcased how he was a master of both color and visuals. Omoide Poroporo was a movie that was made to be targeted towards women upon it’s release, but due to Isao Takahata’s brilliant directing, the movie managed to become a success around men and women alike.

The story surrounds Taiko, a twenty seven year old woman who leaves the city and her work for ten days to go on a vacation in the rural areas and relax her mind. What really sets this movie apart from the rest of the others is the fact that on the way to her destination, her little self from when she was younger comes along on the trip, and from there on the woman starts to remember all of the nostalgic bits and pieces from her past, both the good and the bad of her childhood. The movie’s narrative transitions seamlessly from twenty seven year old Taiko to the young and innocent Taiko, often with the use of phone calls to convey that the movie has transitioned from past to present and vice versa.

The dangerous thing about this film is that the two sides, her young self and her old self, are contrasting in tone and color, to the point where one would naturally care for a side and not the other, or find themselves caring for one more than the other. Luckily, this movie tried to make the chances of that happening slim. Taiko’s adult persona is very interesting with her introspective demeanor, and her longing for a better life. She finds herself in a place that many young adults her age find themselves in, and that is to still be holding onto the dreams of the youth while trying to work towards her goals of taking care of a family and living up to society’s expectations. That, in turn, makes the child brimming within her to not go unnoticed and makes her all the more relatable towards people who are in the same age gap as her and facing the same issues she is facing. The most interesting part of her family is her father, who seems like he looks down on himself in shame due to the fact that he didn’t achieve his dreams while young. He cannot let go of the past, which contrasts with Taiko letting go of the past while also valuing how it shaped one up to be, and embracing all those moments in life, both the good and the bad.

Every character in this movie felt like a real person, and it was very interesting to see a slow paced, coming of age, female driven drama Anime. You don’t see those often, especially in an Anime, and that is the thing which made this movie all the more of a unique and enjoyable ride.

The audiovisuals are some of the most unique out there, if not the most unique for a Ghibli movie. The contrast of visuals between the life of young Taiko and her life when she is all grown up is interesting and worked on very well. The most striking aspect about Only Yesterday is it’s use of color and visual design to achieve it’s themes about self-discovery through re-discovery, and to grab the viewer into both old and young Taiko’s perspectives of the world around them. Only Yesterday operates on two time periods, those being the past and the present, and Takahata managed to infuse each separate time period with a distinct personality and a life of it’s own. For example, Taiko’s past is filled to the brim with simplistic usage of colors and light colors, and the most used color is the color white, which seeps into the edges of the screen. The past has this nostalgic feel working for it, which creates a striking contrast with Taiko’s present, a present that contains very complex and colorful colors, and very realistic details in both characters and setting. The reason for that is that Taiko’s past is, intentionally made blurry and less detailed, due to her not being able to recollect her full memory on what had happened during certain events of her life. This is not necessarily to say that one part of her life is better than another part, as both of them are equally as good as each other, while providing thematic depth and more insight into the main character’s life. The settings are also affected by the visual decisions as well, since the skies are more clear and white in the past, providing for a nostalgic feel, while the skies in the present are more lively and in-the-moment due to the bright blue colors used. Moreover, what distinguishes past from present in Taiko’s life is the usage of the color red, where everything she wears and uses is red in the past, and red disappears in the present. That is not to say that the red has disappeared completely from her life, but more so that she doesn’t completely let go of the past all the while still holding value to it, which is while she still uses red things, she barely does as often as she did during her younger days.

Taiko now mostly wears blue, and her present is surrounded by blue and green lively colors. That is not to say that she has rejected that past, because her hair tie, for example, is still of the color red, just that it is behind her back, which is to show that she still acknowledges the past while not letting it interfere with her present life. On the journey of her discovering herself though, she finds plenty of red. The plant that Taiko is picking is a flower that is used as a red dye, her love interest wears red and his final scene, and the transport vehicles that she uses during the final scenes are colored red. I can rave on and on about why this is Studio Ghibli’s visual landmark, but I think you get the gist. The main musical theme used here is not as striking as some other Ghibli ones out there, though still good on it’s own nonetheless and conveys the mood of nostalgia and melancholy quite successfully. The end scene is one of the best scenes in all of Anime, and how it ends, and how the credit roll is displayed, is one of the most brilliant uses of a credit roll in Anime history.

If you are a person who is interested in a coming of age story from a female perspective, then this one is a must watch. This is one of the best visually directed Anime movies ever made, and is easily the best the top one in the Ghibli discography, and that is due to the fact that Isao Takahata took a mundane concept such as the life of a young girl and her maturing into a female adult, and turned it into such an amazing and visceral self-discovery journey.