Only Yesterday Review

only yesterday3Yesterday I saw the oldest new release of the year.  In a strange turn of events Isao Takahata’s 1991 anime film Only Yesterday is finally getting its US debut. So, 25 years later how does it hold up? It’s cute.  I liked it but it didn’t wow me if that makes sense.

only yesterday13Only Yesterday is about a 27 year old single woman named Taeko.  She decides to get out of the city and work on a communal farm for the summer.  While traveling and during her stay, she is reminded of herself as a little girl in the 5th grade in 1966.

The movie then switches back and forth between stories of her childhood and her time on the farm. There’s really not much else to talk about plot-wise.  It’s just about this woman’s life.

only yesterday12I personally love movies about ordinary life but some people will find Only Yesterday to be very boring.  Even I nodded off once during an adult segment.

only yesterday8It’s all very simple. Taeko goes through puberty, learns about periods, has a crush, sticks up for a poor kid, gets a spot in a play, and the family tries pineapple for the first time.  Aside from her Dad being a jerk and slapping her once there’s really no drama- just ordinary life.

only yesterday7Adult Taeko I found less engaging because it felt more generic and a little preachy in spots.  You could tell it was made in 1991 with the talks on organic farming and how the earth is part of us and we should live in harmony (that’s where I dozed off for a sec).

only yesterday15There are a few moments where Taeko daydreams of flying and rainbows but for the most part it’s just her memories without much fantasy.  Memories like struggling with math and her sister trying in vain to help her, getting a cold and sitting out from gym etc. You get the idea.

only yesterday111It probably goes without saying the animation is lovely.  It has Takahata’s watercolor style, which I enjoy. Everything in the film looks adorable especially Taeko as a little girl.  She’s so cute!

onlyyesterday007Little girl Taeko was also a really well developed character.  She’s quirky but not too quirky.  She’s shy but not abnormally so.  She has friends but also disagrees with them.  A lot of the traditional tropes of coming of age films are forgotten and instead we get a little girl facing typical problems little girls face.

Adult Taeko is more of a generic yuppie trying to find herself on the farm.  There’s a romance between her and a man named Toshio, which is sweet but a little bland.  And like I said some of the adult sections can be preachy.

only yesterday19I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a hair disappointed in Only Yesterday, but maybe that’s because I was expecting something grand and got something simple instead.

There is a lot that feels very Japanese- particularly a segment where Toshio’s Grandmother talks to Taeko about marriage.  This is fine but something about Japanese customs can feel a little cold and distant at times for a coming of age story.

The music is the most dated aspect of the film.  The synthesizer and Japanese pop songs (including a rendition of The Rose by Janis Joplin) feel very 1991 but it works fine. It just didn’t wow me like the scores from other Ghibli films by Joe Hisaishi (Only Yesterday’s score is from Katz Hoshi).

Overall, I’d say Only Yesterday is good but not up there in the best of Studio Ghibli.  The animation is lovely.  The childhood segments are very cute and charming but the adult sections drag a bit and are a little preachy.  It’s kind of strange to see adorable Taeko turn into a bland adult, but that’s the way life is.  Most of us are far more interesting as children than grown ups!

I certainly recommend seeing Only Yesterday but just calibrate your expectations to something very simple and sweet.  If you do, I think you’ll enjoy it even if it isn’t a favorite.

The English dub with Daisy Ridley as Taeko and Dev Patel as Toshio is fine.  No issues there.

It will be interesting to see how Only Yesterday does at the Oscars given it is a 25 year old film but Oscars bases off of US release date which makes it a 2016 release.  Crazy!

What do you think of Only Yesterday?  Do you find it charming or boring?  I personally liked When Marnie was There much better but that’s just me.

Overall Grade- B

My youtube review

Animated News 3/10/16

Hey guys!  I’m excited to share with you a new video series I am trying out. It’s a video where I cover all the news in both animated TV shows and movies.  I thought of this because I don’t really like reviewing trailers, so it seemed like a good way to cover the trailer but also other topics that I think are interesting.  I figured I could make my viewers aware of smaller projects or shows that might be off their radar.

There are obviously going to be room for improvement but I think it is a pretty good start.  Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Also, what do you think of this week’s news?  In the video I cover:

Box office for Zootopia and Boy and the Beast

Trailers for Kubo and the 2 Strings and Red Shoes and the 7 Dwarves

Movie announcements for animated Ghostbusters and Surfs Up 2: Wave Mania

Utah release of Boy and the World and Only Yesterday

Aaron Springer Billy Dilly Show

Ducktales reboot image review

Cancellation of Wander Over Yonder

Tangled Before Ever After series

Big Hero 6 series announcement

Does any of this news interest you?  Let’s discuss it in the comments section here or on the youtube video.  If you feel so inclined give it a thumbs up!  Thanks so much. 🙂