Only Yesterday (1991 film)

Only Yesterday (Japanese: おもひでぽろぽろ, Hepburn: Omoide Poro Poro[n 1], lit.'Memories Come Tumbling Down'[4]) is a 1991 Japanese animated drama film written and directed by Isao Takahata, based on the 1982 manga of the same title by Hotaru Okamoto and Yuko Tone.[5] It was animated by Studio Ghibli[6] for Tokuma Shoten, Nippon Television Network and Hakuhodo, and distributed by Toho. It was released on July 20, 1991. The ending theme song "Ai wa Hana, Kimi wa sono Tane" (愛は花、君はその種子, "Love is a flower, you are the seed") is a Japanese translation of Amanda McBroom's composition "The Rose".

Only Yesterday
Japanese name
Revised HepburnOmoide Poro Poro
Directed byIsao Takahata
Screenplay byIsao Takahata
Based onOmoide Poro Poro
by Hotaru Okamoto
Yuko Tone
Produced byToshio Suzuki
CinematographyHisao Shirai
Edited byTakeshi Seyama
Music byKatz Hoshi
Distributed byToho
Release date
  • July 20, 1991 (1991-07-20)
Running time
118 minutes
Box office¥3.18 billion (Japan)[2]
$525,958 (overseas)[3]

The film was a surprise box office success, attracting a large adult audience and becoming the highest-grossing Japanese film of 1991 in the country. It has also been well received by critics outside of Japan—it has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

To celebrate the film's 25th anniversary, GKIDS released the film for the first time in an English-language format on February 26, 2016,[7] featuring the voices of Daisy Ridley,[8] Dev Patel, Alison Fernandez, Laura Bailey and Ashley Eckstein.[9]

On August 31, 2020, it was announced a live-action special based on the manga would air on NHK's subchannels BS Premium and BS4K in January 2021. The special would be about a 64-year-old Taeko and her daughter and granddaughter.[10]

Plot edit

In 1982, Taeko Okajima is 27 years old, unmarried, has lived her whole life in Tokyo and now works at a company there. She decides to take another trip to visit the family of her elder sister's in-laws in the rural countryside to help with the safflower harvest and get away from city life. While traveling at night on a sleeper train to Yamagata, she begins to recall memories of herself as a schoolgirl in 1966, and her intense desire to go on holiday like her classmates, all of whom have family outside of the big city.

At the arrival train station, she is surprised to find out that her brother-in-law's second cousin Toshio, whom she barely knows, is the one who came to pick her up. During her stay in Yamagata, she finds herself increasingly nostalgic and wistful for her childhood self, while simultaneously wrestling with adult issues of career and love. The trip dredges up forgotten memories (not all of them good ones)—the first stirrings of childish romance, puberty and growing up, the frustrations of math and boys. In lyrical switches between the present and the past, Taeko wonders if she has been true to the dreams of her childhood self. In doing so, she begins to realize that Toshio has helped her along the way. Finally, Taeko faces her own true self, how she views the world and the people around her. Taeko chooses to stay in the countryside instead of returning to Tokyo. It is implied that she and Toshio begin a relationship.

Cast and characters edit

Character Japanese voice actor English dubbing actor
Main cast
Taeko Okajima (age 10) (岡島タエ子, Okajima Taeko) Yōko Honna Alison Fernandez
Taeko Okajima (age 27) Miki Imai Daisy Ridley[8]
Toshio (トシオ) Toshirō Yanagiba Dev Patel
Young Taeko's classmates
Tsuneko Tani (谷ツネ子, Tani Tsuneko) Mayumi Iizuka Hope Levy
Aiko (アイ子) Mei Oshitani Stephanie Sheh
Toko (トコ) Megumi Komine Ava Acres
Rie (リエ) Yukiyo Takizawa Madeleine Rose Yen
Suu (スー) Masashi Ishikawa Jaden Betts
Shuuji Hirota (広田秀二, Hirota Shūji) Yūki Masuda Gianella Thielmann
Taeko's family in Tokyo
Taeko's Mother (タエ子の母, Taeko no haha) Michie Terada Grey DeLisle (as Grey Griffin)
Taeko's Father (タエ子の父, Taeko no chichi) Masahiro Itō Matthew Yang King
Nanako Okajima (岡島ナナ子, Okajima Nanako) Yorie Yamashita Laura Bailey
Yaeko Okajima (岡島ヤエ子, Okajima Yaeko) Yuki Minowa Ashley Eckstein
Taeko's Grandmother (タエ子の祖母, Taeko no baba) Chie Kitagawa Mona Marshall
Taeko's farm relatives in Yamagata
Kazuo (カズオ) Kōji Gotō Matthew Yang King
Kiyoko (キヨ子) Sachiko Ishikawa Sumalee Montano
Naoko (ナオ子) Masako Watanabe Tara Strong
Granny (ばっちゃ, Baccha) Shin Itō Nika Futterman

Film notes edit

Studio Ghibli co-founder and the film's producer Hayao Miyazaki was intrigued by the original Only Yesterday manga, believing there was potential value in depicting the type of children's story it told. However, he felt he was not up to the task of adapting it into a film, but the idea remained in his mind as he directed other children's films such as My Neighbor Totoro, and he eventually brought the idea to Takahata.[11]

The story takes place within the Takase district of Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture.[12] The Takase Station (and also Yamadera Station) of the JNR (currently JR East) Senzan Line is featured prominently; though it has since been rebuilt, the scenery remains mostly unchanged. During the course of the film, characters visit prominent locales, including the resort destination of Mount Zaō.

Unlike the typical Japanese character animation style, the characters have more realistic facial muscles and expressions due to the dialogue being recorded first (the tradition in Japan is to record it after the animation is completed) and the animators fit the animation to the spoken dialogue. Takahata also had voice actors record some of their lines together, using footage of their performances as a guide for both design and the animation.[11] However, the scenes of Taeko's childhood past were animated before the voices were recorded, giving a subtle contrast between the anime style of her childhood and the adult "reality" of the framing story.[11]

Those scenes set in 1966 with the 10-year-old Taeko are taken from the source material. Takahata had difficulty adapting the episodic manga into a feature film, and he, therefore, invented the framing narrative wherein the adult Taeko journeys to the countryside and falls in love with Toshio.[5]

There is a repeated Eastern European theme in the film, particularly in the soundtrack reflecting the peasant lifestyle still present in the area and the parallels this draws with Japanese rural life. Folk songs from the area repeatedly occur in the film. For example, "Frunzuliță Lemn Adus Cântec De Nuntă" (Fluttering Green Leaves Wedding Song) is a Romanian folk song written by Gheorghe Zamfir and occurs in the film repeatedly during the landscape shots, for example arriving at the farm. Instruments used include the prominent nai played by Zamfir himself, cimbalom and violins. There is also Hungarian music in the film, using pieces of music such as Brahms' "Hungarian Dance No. 5" in a scene where Taeko is eating lunch, and making references to Hungarian musicians when she is in the car with Toshio ("Teremtés" performed by Sebestyén Márta & Muzsikás. Adaptation from a Hungarian traditional folk song). The music of Márta Sebestyén with Muzsikás is used in several scenes as well.[13] Bulgarian folklore music is also used in the soundtrack. When Taeko is on the field, one can first hear Dilmano, Dilbero, followed by Malka Moma Dvori Mete. These are typical Bulgarian folklore songs and the lyrics of both are connected to topics mentioned in the film – the life of farmers and marriage.

Taeko recalls her childhood favorite puppet show Hyokkori Hyotan Jima (ひょっこりひょうたん島, "Floating Gourd Island") which was an actual puppet show that aired every weekday on NHK from 1964 to 1969.

Release edit

  • Japan – Released on July 20, 1991, by Toho in theaters and December 5, 2012, by Walt Disney Studios Japan on Blu-ray
  • Germany – Released on June 6, 2006, under the title of Tränen der Erinnerung (Tears of Memory) – Only Yesterday (Universum Film GmbH)[14]
  • Australia – Released on October 11, 2006 (Madman Entertainment)[15]
  • United Kingdom – Released on September 4, 2006 (Optimum Releasing/StudioCanal, English re-release)[16]
  • North America – Released on January 1, 2016, in New York City and nationwide in the United States on February 26, 2016 (GKIDS)[8][9]
    • Before these dates, the film was the only theatrical Studio Ghibli feature not yet released on home video in the United States or Canada. Walt Disney Studios, which owned the North American distribution rights, for a long time refused to release it because of its candid treatment of menstruation in the flashback sequences. A subtitled version of the film was aired on Turner Classic Movies in January 2006, as part of the channel's month-long salute to Miyazaki and Ghibli.[citation needed] GKIDS announced in 2015 that it would release the film in theaters in North America in 2016 along with an English dub, with actors Daisy Ridley, Dev Patel, Ashley Eckstein and Alison Fernandez confirmed to lend their voices.[17]
    • The English version of the film was released on Blu-ray and DVD in the US on July 5, 2016 (GKIDS/Universal Pictures Home Entertainment), earning $1,780,357 in sales revenue.[18]

Reception edit

Box office edit

Only Yesterday was the highest-grossing Japanese film on the domestic market in 1991,[19] grossing ¥3.18 billion at the Japanese box office.[2] The 2016 English-language release later earned $525,958, including $453,243 in the United States.[3]

Critical reception edit

The film received widespread critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 100%, based on 59 reviews, with an average rating of 8.40/10. The critical consensus states "Only Yesterday's long-delayed U.S. debut fills a frustrating gap for American Ghibli fans while offering further proof of the studio's incredibly consistent commitment to quality."[20] It has a score 90 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 19 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[21]

Roger Ebert gave the film a very favorable review in his essay regarding anime and the other work of Studio Ghibli calling it "a touching, melancholy meditation on the life of the same woman at ages 10 and 27."[22] Nicolas Rapold, of The New York Times, gave the film a positive review, saying, "Mr. Takahata's psychologically acute film, which was based on a manga, seems to grow in impact, too, as the adult Taeko comes to a richer understanding of what she wants and how she wants to live."[23] Glenn Kenny of awarded it a similarly positive review, saying "Like Kaguya, it functions as a highly sensitive and empathetic consideration of the situation of women in Japanese society—but it's also a breathtaking work of art on its own."[24]

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ The film title uses the historical spelling おもひで omohide, instead of the modern spelling おもいで. For either spelling, the word is pronounced omoide, with the "h" sound omitted.

References edit

  1. ^ "{title}". Archived from the original on August 12, 2018. Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Only Yesterday AKA Omohide poro poro [Blu-ray]". DVD Compare. September 4, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Only Yesterday (2016 re-release)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on January 18, 2017. Retrieved December 25, 2016.
  4. ^ Team Ghiblink. "Only Yesterday: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Q: What does "Omohide Poroporo" mean?". Archived from the original on January 7, 2007. Retrieved July 13, 2009.
  5. ^ a b Team Ghiblink. "Only Yesterday: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Q: Is it based on a manga or a book?". Archived from the original on January 7, 2007. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
  6. ^ Byford, Sam (February 24, 2016). "Only Yesterday is an intensely relatable blast from Studio Ghibli's past". The Verge. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
  7. ^ "Ghibli's Only Yesterday Film Trailer Previews English Dub With Star Wars' Daisy Ridley". Anime News Network. December 30, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c "Star Wars' Daisy Ridley Talks About Ghibli's Only Yesterday Role". Anime News Network. December 29, 2015. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Unreleased Studio Ghibli feature finally receives English dub, dated for January". Polygon. December 4, 2015. Archived from the original on December 7, 2015. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  10. ^ "Only Yesterday Manga Gets Live-Action Special After Inspiring Ghibli Film". June 26, 2023.
  11. ^ a b c The Making of Only Yesterday. 2016 (DVD).
  12. ^ Team Ghiblink. "Only Yesterday: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Q: Where did it take place?". Archived from the original on January 7, 2007. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
  13. ^ Team Ghiblink. "Only Yesterday: CD Guide". Archived from the original on June 6, 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2009.
  14. ^ "Tränen der Erinnerung – Only Yesterday" (in German). Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved July 13, 2009.
  15. ^ "Release Information: Only Yesterday". Archived from the original on October 13, 2006. Retrieved July 13, 2009.
  16. ^ "Optimum Releasing: Only Yesterday". Archived from the original on October 26, 2006. Retrieved July 13, 2009.
  17. ^ "GKids to Release Ghibli's Only Yesterday in Theaters in N. America". Anime News Network. August 24, 2015. Archived from the original on February 19, 2016. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  18. ^ "Omohide poro poro (2016) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  19. ^ "Kako haikyū shūnyū jōi sakuhin 1991-nen" (in Japanese). Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan. Archived from the original on July 26, 2011. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
  20. ^ "Omohide poro poro (Only Yesterday) (1991)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Archived from the original on March 31, 2016. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
  21. ^ "Only Yesterday (1991)". Archived from the original on January 5, 2016. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  22. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 7, 1999). "Only Yesterday (2016)". Ebert Digital. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  23. ^ Repold, Nicolas (December 31, 2015). "Review: Only Yesterday, Isao Takahata's Time-Jumping Anime". New York Times. Archived from the original on July 29, 2017. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  24. ^ Kenny, Glenn (December 31, 2015). "Only Yesterday (2016)". Ebert Digital. Archived from the original on January 25, 2016. Retrieved February 9, 2016.

External links edit