Hello Everyone, Janet W. here…
When you’re trying to find that next step in life, it helps to go back to the beginning, unless the beginning comes back to you. Only Yesterday opens with Taeko (Miki Imai), at 27 years old, who is split between her functional life in city and her beloved summers in the country. As Taeko prepares to make her annual trek to the country, her co-workers and sister tease her about being single at her age and not having fun like everyone else. Taeko is not like everyone else, she thinks for herself and doggedly only does what she wants to do. Enter Young Taeko (Youko Honna), Taeko’s 5th grade self and sort of a spirit guide, to help her reflect on who she is and why she is different than others. Together they search for the path forward to happiness and contentment.
In beautiful shades of nature and cold hues of industry, the theme of man’s connection to the earth versus the snare of urban life. Only Yesterday is a journey that details the ways that both Taekos were different about highly relatable life experiences such as biological changes, awkwardness around the opposite sex, and academic/career goals. Taeko is periodically faced with these turning points throughout her life from 5th grade to present day. Only Yesterday opens the door to self-realization of what is important. I dare you to watch and not start speculating about your life choices.
Only Yesterday’s cinematography is as skilled as the artistry of its images. I loved how vast the landscape became with each pan revealing a world seemingly without end. The depth in the images pulls the viewer in, superbly portrayed. As if from a dream, the color scheme makes for the perfect tone for the fluid time travelling within Taeko’s timeline. Flashbacks were well-used vehicles that permitted Taeko the ability to bounce in and out of present day throughout the film. Initially, the transitions were abrupt to and from the past. It was a little confusing, but the pattern eventually came into view. The score is soothing and gently guides the viewer along with Taeko.
The sound design made this journey somber yet hopeful. Full of expression and mood symbolism, faces detail each character’s spectrum of emotion very well. “Domo arigato,” to Director Isao Takahata, his production team, and Studio Ghibli for such an exquisite experience. Admittedly, there were some parts that ran a little long, but overall a comfortable and adorable ride. It’s no wonder why I liked this film, because Studio Ghibli moved me in a similar way years ago with Spirited Away. Only Yesterday’s animation is similar to Spirited Away as well. Only Yesterday is a magnificent family-friendly film that ponders the questions of if we should follow the herd, strike out on our own path, or if our path lead us to the herd.
A Must See
Janet L. White