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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Only Yesterday [DVD]
Format: DVD|Change
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on 27 October 2013
I've always enjoyed the skill and quality of todays animations. When I first saw this film on TV, I was very struck by how mature and thoughtful it was. Other reviewers have written very ably about the story and the way the film back-flashes to the main character's ten year old self. I found it absorbing, so true to life and informative. It had a distinct far eastern feel about it which many of Studio Ghibli don't. It was so unusual and insightful I bought it and watched it straight away. Very worth while.
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on 25 August 2017
Love this film! Takahata is a gem and so underrated as he's always been compared to the great Miyazaki. This film is very deep and is for all ages to enjoy and cherish.
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on 5 November 2017
Enchanting story.
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on 8 October 2017
Finnally my collection is compleat
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on 25 April 2013
I'll begin by saying, this is one of my favourite Studio Ghibli films!
Only Yesterday is a nostalgic and thoughtful film written and directed by Isao Takahata.
While Miyazaki is well known for the fantastical stuff, Takahata's work is often grounded in realism, thinking of his other stuff like Grave of the Fireflies or My Neighbors the Yamadas.
This is no exception, a realistic drama written for adults.

It is 1982 and Taeko is an unhappy 27-year-old woman from Tokyo, unmarried and working in an office feeling alienated and like she doesn't belong anywhere.
She decides to escape the busy city life and visit her family in the countryside harvesting safflower.
During the long train journey to Yamagata, she begins to remember herself at 10-years-old in 1966, the film will continue to do this, switching between the different timeframes as Taeko's childhood self seems to follow her into the country.
She becomes increasingly nostalgic and wistful, the forgotten memories of disappointment and regret cause her to do some soul-searching as the past and present intermingle.
The ending for this film is very rewarding.

Only Yesterday is quite the underrated gem, probably because there isn't an option for an English dub but then that's no real reason not to see it.
I personally think it's wonderful and the only weakness I've heard people complain about is the way it uses flashbacks as you're constantly travelling between the present and the past but Takahata has executed it really well, the storytelling and characterization are superb and it's a real masterpiece.
There's a warmth which comes from this emotionally relatable and human story, the slow pacing and beautifully detailed animation.
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on 26 November 2016
*Minor spoilers ahead.*

I can't say I didn't enjoy 'Only Yesterday', but like Takahata's other films it suffers from being too long and from back-loading content in order to deliver an unsurprising but emotional climax (in this case during the final credits!)

The plot, based in 1982, tells of 27-year old Taeko traveling from her home in Tokyo to the countryside to pick safflowers. On the way she starts to reminisce about her childhood and the film jumps between 1966 and 1982. The first half of the film concentrates on her youth, the second half on her time picking safflowers and bonding with new friends found in the country. Unfortunately very few of the themes established in the first hour help us make better sense of the second hour. The girl we meet at the age of 10 in 1966 doesn't feel like the girl of 27 and major events of 1966 don't seem to have any bearing on the action of 1982. In fact, as the film draws to a close we get an entirely new plot and character from 1966 introduced who seems to serve no other purpose than to be a deus ex machina for the decisions Taeko takes in the final minutes of the film. The net result is that her relationships as an adult feel artificial and if there's a message I took away from this film is that you can never relive the magic of your youth, but that won't stop you pretending you can.

As with Takahata's other films there's an interesting ecological message underpinning the main drama and there won't be a dry eye in the house as the film draws to a close, he also has a great eye for cotidian detail. But as with Pom Poko, Princess Kaguya and Grave of the Fireflies, the individuals scenes, while strong and often very emotional and sensitive, do not come together with the effortlessness of a Miyazaki.

Happy to have it on Blu Ray at last, but I couldn't care less that it has a new overdub, these films deserve to be seen in the original Japanese.
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on 13 May 2012
Nostalgic reflection is nearly always a sure-fire route to artistic success. Some of my favourite novels such as Alain-Fournier's "Le Grand Meulnes" and L P Hartley's "The go between" demonstrate how successful nostalgia can be as a subject when handled with expert care and attention. For me, "Only Yesterday" manages to achieve the same high standard not only in cinema but also in the animated medium. "Only Yesterday" is proof, if it is needed, that animation can produce cinema as effective as anything with live action. As a recent fan of Studio Ghibli's work, this is the most creative and artistically successful film they have ever made and stands head and shoulders above more celebrated films like "Spirited away."

I think that the film's achievements are attributable to a number of factors. To start with, despite this film is only available in Japanese with English sub-titles, the script is exceptional. It works on three levels:- as conversation in the present, as a reflective and profound monologue upon the past experienced by the prinicple character Taeko and ,utlimately, in the scenes that take place when she was ten years old. The childhood scenes seem to resonate with truth in their depiction of awkwardness and serve to show how society changed in the decades that followed the 1960's. Take for example the scenario with the new experience with the recently introduced pineapple which is dealt with in a bittersweet fashion that obviously attempt to replicate Proust's famous madelaines.

It goes without saying that the quality of illustrations from this studio are of the usual high standard but "Only Yesterday" offers two styles of images. The "recent" scenes are all drawn in the familiar Ghibli style. On the other hand, the scenes with the 10 year old Taeko set in the 1960's feature backgrounds which are a kind of washed out water colour with the characters seem a little more cartoonish although with no less expression. I felt that this was a brave decision by the film makers and totally inspired. It also allows a few liberties to be taken with reality such as the conclusion of the scene where Taeko meets the base-ball playing friend who has a crush on her in a street and both characters are too embarrassed to say anything other than to ask each other what their favourite kind of weather is. I found this scene to be especially effecting and it ends in a totally unexpected fashion. However, the film's trump card is not played until the film appears to have ended when Taeko boards the train home to Tokyo from her holiday in the countryside. As exceptional as the film had been up to that point, I felt this was truly the icing on the cake.

It is not difficult to explain why a film about a 27 year old woman reflecting upon an awkwards childhood should appeal to this 40-something, male reviewer. Despite being set in Japan, it shows that childhood has plenty things about it which are universal and nicely records how seemingly insignificant events can have a bearing on how a child develops. Most people will be able to recognise many of the incidents recounted in this film themselves regardless of their gender. "Only yesterday" is also very much a "feel good" film even though this is a film that has been made by people with intelligence and vision. The only point that I felt to be slightly uncomfortable for me were the scenes concerning "female development" which did shock me a bit but the whole issue was dealt with in a delicate fashion and it served a purpose to illustrate Taeko's embarrassment. Ultmately, it did manage to retain a degree of dignity as well as humour. Not a subject that you would expect to encounter in cinema but I doubt if it could have been dealt with more sensitively as in this film. Much of the film's success is also due to the fact that Taeko is a modest and admirable character. The parts of the film concerning struggling at mathematics also amused me - the first time I've ever seen the questioning of the logic of dividing fractions by another fractions! I'm on Taeko's side with this one! Another scene shows her responding to a younger child in a fashion that contrasts earlier with her own treatment at a similar age by her parents and older sibblings. Miyazaka's film are usually notable for their strong, female characters and it is difficult not to fall a little bit in love with Taeko who is one of Ghibli's finest creations. She is not a 2-dimenstional character and finely etched as a very admirable human being in a superior piece of script writing.

In conclusion, this film is not only the most exceptional film from the Ghibli stable but also one of the finest pieces of film-making from the 1990's. "Only yesterday" offers ample reason to jettison those reservations about both foriegn language films and animation. An essential addition to any film collection.
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on 17 September 2017
One of my favourite ghibli's, I like the soundtrack especially and the farming/ flower pickign vibes!

Totally would recommend!
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This film may not be the most favourite for some Studio Ghibli fans, however is definitely worth buying, though personally I really enjoyed it.

This movie is Japanese audio only but has English subtitles, the story follows a middle age women who thinks back to her child-hood days, the film features a lot of heart-warming scenes that for those people who have finished their school ages ago, it will make you think about those good old times when you were in school and may make you shed a tear or two, it did for me and my sister.

Overall, the animation is beautiful and the storyline in my opinion was great, a must have for any Studio Ghibli fan.
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on 7 February 2013
Only Yesterday or Omohide Poro Poro as it is known in Japan, is not only one of Ghibli's finest works, but one of the best pieces of cinema i have ever seen.

Only yesterday tells the story of 27 year old Taeko, who is taking a 10 day break to stay with family in the countryside. The trip brings up many forgotten memories of her childhood and the choices she made that bring her to the crossroads she is currently facing in her life.

Her childhood flashbacks are both beautiful and endearing to watch as the film seamlessly transitions between the past and the present. The scenes involving 10 year old Taeko will no doubt stir up many memories of your own childhood, some are hilarious to watch, while others will bring a tear to your eye. You travel with Taeko through her ups and downs as the film builds to perhaps the most satisfying ending i have i ever seen in a film. It will leave you crying tears of joy.

As good as the film is though, it certainly isn't for everyone. Younger viewers may find it difficult to relate too and not fully understand the message the film is trying to convey. Those looking for a ''spirited away'' type experience may also be left disappointed.
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