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[ café reviews ]


Omoide Poro Poro
(Only Yesterday)

Copyright: © 1994 Tokuma Shoten Publishing
Length: 120 minutes
Genre: drama / romance
Rating: G, suitable for family viewing
Format: Original Japanese Dialog (VHS/LD)

Directed by Takahata Isao / Produced by Miyazaki Hayao (Studio Ghibli).

[ rated pg ]

adult situations

Parental Guidance Advised - While this film is targeted for adults, there is no real objectionable content. One scene of very indistinct rear nudity at a public bath, and several discussions between young girls about mensturation. Most kids (and I suspect several adults) will not understand this movie's intent, either.

[ plot summary ]

Okajima Taeko is about to take a vacation. But not having any relatives to speak of, she decides to visit some relatives of her sister's husband, and work on their farm a few hours north of her home in Tokyo. The slow, laborious process of picking benibana for use as dye gives her an opportunity to reflect on her past, and what her life goals might be. But as time progresses, Taeko begins to realize that her life has so far been steady, but for the most part, unfulfilling and aimless. Through unfolding memories and the kind support of her friend Toshio, she begins to re-evaluate her life. And with a little help from past, she may yet be able to build a new future...

[ capsule review ]

What a wonderful flick. No loud car chases, no big robots, no weird fantasy characters, no adolescent sight gags. This is storytelling in its purest form; only that the feature also happens to be animated. This is one movie that could have just as easily have been live action, and would have been almost as effective. 'Almost', because of some visual techniques that Studio Ghibli used throughout... but more on that later.

The story is pretty simple in itself. When Okajima Taeko takes her vacation, she doesn't visit her own relatives (of which she has very few) but those of an her sister's husband. Taeko is emotionally lost, though she doesn't know it yet. Though a series of flashbacks, aspects of her personal life are revealed, much like peeling away layers of an onion. And just like real life, these 'layers' can sometimes bring tears. The slow realisation how Taeko's life has been shaped by outside forces, and that she was now a product of this lifestyle does not come easily. Yet, the child that dares to dream still lives within, and as her vacation amongst the benibana harvesters progresses, we see a type of healing process begin to occur.

Some of the storytelling techniques used in this movie are nothing less than magical -- and at times, wonderfully sublime. When Taeko first arrives at the town, note that there are very few people about. But slowly, as the story progresses, it seems that you see more and more of the residents, as if the community itself was beginning to accept her as one of its own. All the flashbacks are done in a beautiful watercolour-like wash, the fringes faded to white like so many memories. But my favourite technique of all is saved for the end, when Taeko herself listens to the child within, and dares to break out of her day-to-day living. Her parting words to Toshio at the train station was, 'Next time, I won't bring my 5th grade self along.' The sight of little 5th grade Taeko leading her by the hand on to her new life with Toshio is magically heartwarming, and is nothing less than brilliant film-making. This movie will leave with you a message of hope and optimism that is so lacking in today's industry. Unfortunately, the movie is only available in its original Japanese format, and I was unable to find any other resources for it on the web. It's a more difficult story to understand than your typical action adventure, since it's all story-driven. But don't let that turn you off; I simply can't recommend this one enough!
- AN, 98.01.12

[ café rating ]

Original: Subbed: Dubbed:
Story: 5 stars N/A N/A
Direction: 5 stars N/A N/A
Acting: 5 stars N/A N/A
Animation: 5 stars N/A N/A
Music: 5 stars N/A N/A
Translation: N/A N/A N/A
Overall Rating: 5 stars N/A N/A

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Page last modified 1999.10.31