First viewing of this little gem and already it rockets to among my three favourite Ghibli's, along with Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbour Totoro. I hadn't really heard much about this one except a few proper Ghibli fans giving i the thumbs up so when i saw it in the HMV sale i thought why not. To anyone that enjoys Ghibli films but hasn't seen this one i suggest you search this one out, it displays just how humanistic these little films can be, and shows how animation is definitely not just for kids - but can portray elements of cinema and life that real time motion pictures overlook or can't capture. I have seen many films but few had shown the progression of growing up and reminiscing like this film had. It may not be there most magical outing but to be fair this film is probably one of their better looking films, capturing the Japanese countryside it true glory, sometimes upting to give a watercolour effect that is truly magical. Definitely one that i will think about for a while, and one that deserves mentioning along with their better known works - Spirited Away? Pff, these are there true masterpieces.
I am still very new to anime (Japanese animation), even though I've seen a good few of the movies, because most of these were directed by a mere handful of people.
The first I ever saw was the futuristic "Ghost in the Shell", which I didn't fully understand when I first watched it, and all I can remember about it now is that a woman cyborg somehow beats up a tank.
More recently I watched Katsuhiro Ôtomo's severely over-the-top "Akira" and "Steamboy", both of which blew me away and left me gasping for air by the end, battle-weary and worn (these films have more explosions than any Hollywood action blockbuster).
Then there was the fantastic "Paprika", a full medley of visual goodies that just completely swamps the vision and drowns you in colour.
All four of these films rely on huge explosions, big battles, and some sort of super human, usually a flesh/metal combination, or at least something embedded in the realm of Frankenstein's monster.
The most consistently good set of movies comes from Studio Ghibli and their two most influential directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.
Miyazaki was the first to really get me into anime with one of my favourite films, and Oscar-winner, "Spirited Away".
From then I was devoted to seeking out all of his movies: "Nausicaä", "My Neighbor Totoro", "Kiki's Delivery Service", "Porco Rosso", "Princess Mononoke" and "Howl's Moving Castle".
"Only Yesterday" is one of Takahata's creations, best known for directing "Grave of the Fireflies", a powerful animation about a broken family in Japan during WWII that I found truly disturbing to watch due to its brutal honesty.
This movie, however, doesn't tackle similar plot themes, but it is certainly a much more adult-orientated piece of work than Miyazaki's films, which are aimed at a more youthful audience, enjoyable for children and parents alike.
"Only Yesterday" focuses on Taeko, both as a young girl at school and as an adult coping with her lonely single life when she visits her relatives in the country.
The animation itself is beautiful, and Takahata combines sensitive watercolours for the flashbacks and great panning landscape shots for modern day, showing off a truly masterful piece of work.
I am always amazed at the attention to detail in these anime films, and would gladly watch one over any new Disney or Pixar with their computer-generated trickery.
The film brings up many different issues that affect both the child and the adult Taeko, but it is a shame that the plot itself really doesn't come to much.
In other words, there's plenty of meat, but none of the bones.
And this is what really hindered me from thinking this film to be fantastic, as when you get down to it, very little actually happens and the film suddenly ends, just when it might be moving somewhere, which is something to say for a film nearly two hours long.
However, this film holds up on its artistic merits alone, and while it perhaps doesn't have the power of "Grave of the Fireflies", it has the heart and emotion I've come to expect from Studio Ghibli.
It seems to me that anime is often used to create movies that you could never film live-action, as they would be too stupendously expensive, which is a good thing, while the two films I've seen by Takahata could both be transferred to a live-action format (although with probably varying results).
"Only Yesterday" is a drama overall, not the fantasy/sci-fi/horror/action many anime-directors employ, which truly shows the depths this medium can reach.
So if you're new to Japanese animation, I would suggest you start exploring this brave new world of movies right now, but "Only Yesterday" is perhaps not the first one I would recommend.
Originally released in japan in 1991, it is made by studio ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki the acclaimed maker of such other anime movies as spirited away , princess mononoke, my neighbor totoro and howls moving castle this is one of his older pieces of work, possible based at an older audience it is only available in english subtitle on the UK edition and is approx 119 minutes long.
Its a bout the past and present life of an office lady called Taeko Okajima. Cut scenes take us back and forth through her current life and her life in the 1960s when she was a little girl.
In her present life she travels on a sabbatical on a farm, while there she falls in love with the farmers son and has to face up to going back and living in the city or staying in the countryside.
The script and animation are beautiful and moving as to be expected with a studio ghibli movie.
Though it has a lot of themes promoting females in the work place, and the idealisms of the japanese family in the 60s in which children especially girls had to do what ever thier fathers told them with virtually no choice in life development.
It has a great soundtrack also which got me crying towards the end as she makes her final decision, this is a great anime for the romantics