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Title: Only Yesterday
Genre: Slice of Life, Romance
Release Date: 1991
Studio: Studio Ghibli
Overall: 23/35 66% D “Average Anime For Girls”
Story: 5/10 A young woman goes to spend a summer on her aunt’s farm. While helping out on the farm and around the house she is reminded of her childhood. She also meets a young man working on the farm and must reconcile her feelings of her childhood in order to become a woman.
The story is told through numerous flash backs that take place 17 years prior to the current events. The flashbacks are of other people, friends, family members, former romances, etc that she has encountered thus far in her life and how they’ve shaped her outlook on life and her experiences.
It is very slow moving. If I were just grading about the last 30 minutes of this film I’d give it a 10 lol. One of my favorite endings I think of any Ghibli film. It was very heart warming, as most Ghibli films are.
The fact that it’s told through flashback and that it features different people not related to the current events kinda disconnects the story a bit for me.
I also feel like the pacing and timing of several of the flashbacks was a burden to the film overall. I kept anticipating and thinking perhaps the two characters had met before and/or that there was some significance to the flashbacks – beyond just showing the lead character’s progression etc.
Or if the flash backs had been more spread out over the period of time – instead of focused all on one year of her life – It would have been more interesting in my opinion to see her grow and evolve through the flash backs instead – Although there are some significant events which clearly did contribute to her backstory and character development.
Overall – the story is just kinda meh to me. A little too slow and dull – though not as bad as Up On Poppy Hill or I can Hear the Ocean Waves.
I did think that it was interesting to see a very detailed account of what growing up in the 70s in Japan was like, and I enjoyed seeing the cultural aspects and history of farming and agriculture told in the movie, as well as seeing more of what elementary and middle school is like for young Japanese students. Their student council meeting was really interesting to me.
I didn’t love the story, but I did find myself caught up by the end and found the ending immensely satisfying which felt like pay off for sticking with a rather lackluster overall story.
Characters: 8/10 – The characters were very likable in this film. Unlike “I can hear the Ocean Waves” (in which the main female is a downright bitch lol) and they had significant progression unlike “Up on Poppy Hill” which never seemed to go anywhere at all. The old 90s style character designs were pretty ugly though which did prevent me from connecting as well as I would have with more “kawaii” (cute) designs. Still I felt their emotions and their pains, hopes, dreams, etc.
Artwork: 3/5 The colors used and character designs created are very drab. The main character is only 27 but she looks much older. The backgrounds are really pretty however, especially the countryside and lush landscapes. Studio Ghibli films strive for a realistic touch – and even their newer films have that hallmark Ghibli styling in the way the faces eyes hair etc are drawn. I found this film in terms of both story and design to strive even further for realism. Laugh lines, wrinkles, and round cheeks are prominent on all of the characters. Not my cup of tea but not deducting points just because of personal preference. Being from the early 90s the animation is not as clean or crisp as more current animation.
Music: 2/5 – Music majorly missed the mark for me in this film. While I appreciate being exposed to new or interesting things, and I equally appreciate Ghibli daring to do something “different” The music just really didn’t apppeal to me, nor did I feel it suited most of the scenes. The score consists of “Hungarian Folk Music” and a few Japanese “covers” of popular 70s-80s pop music and ballads. For a film that is so distinctively Japanese, it seems like an odd musical choice.
Voice Acting: 5/5 On the other hand, the voice acting was quite brilliant. I especially liked Toshio. But Taeko’s voice actress was also very convincing. Their performances conveyed a lot of heart and emotion which was key to telling the story.
Overall: 23/35 66% D “Average Anime For Girls”
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