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Only Yesterday

Updated on March 7, 2016
Stevennix2001 profile image

Steven Escareno is an amateur film critic that writes about movies in his spare time.

Only Yesterday

Director: Isao Takahata

Writers: Hotaru Okamoto, Isao Takahata, Yuuko Tone

Voice Cast: Miki Imai, Toshirô Yanagiba, Youko Honna, Ava Acres, Laura Bailey, Jaden Betts, Ashley Eckstein, Alison Fernandez, Grey Griffin, Mayumi Iizuka, Masahiro Ito, Chie Kitagawa, Yoshimasa Kondô, Hope Levy, Yuuki Masuda, Yuki Minowa, Sumalee Montano, Dev Patel, Daisy Ridley, Tara Sands, Stephanie Sheh, Tara Strong, Issei Takahashi, Michie Terada, Yorie Yamashita, Matthew Yang King, Madeleine Rose Yen

Synopsis: A 27-year-old office worker travels to the countryside while reminiscing about her childhood in Tôkyô.

MPAA Rating: Rated PG for thematic elements, brief nudity, some rude behavior and smoking

Note: Unfortunately due to various circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to review the subtitled version of this film, so this entire review is based on the dubbed version.

Stevennix2001's Rating:

9.9 / 10


- Great detailed animation that makes everyday life look like a work of art.

- Very deep and emotional story about life itself, and the choices we make.

- Voice acting was rather decent, and the dubbing wasn't too bad.

- Soundtrack was great, and fits the tone of the film quite well.


- The beginning of the movie tends to drag a lot, so you might have to be patient. However, if you can survive the first act, then you'll be in for quite a treat.

A timeless classic that most people will never see in America.....(sigh)

As I watch this movie, I can't help but be reminded of my own life. Like the main character of this story, I too often look back on my life, and reflect on a lot of things from my past. Some good. Some bad, or some that fall right in the middle. I can still recall how naive and selfish I was back when I was a kid, while laughing at some of my previous mistakes. Often wondering what would've happened if only I had done things a little differently, while regretting various things that I could've avoided. Often, I look back and remember people who openly disliked me, while pondering..."why?"

And it's through this critical thinking process that I sometimes wonder if I'm the only person that ever feels this way? Am i truly the only person that always looks back in the past wondering why I did things the way that I did? Am I the only person in the world that constantly remembers how naive and selfish I was not to see the consequences of my actions at the time? Am I being too hard on myself? Or maybe not hard enough? And most of all, is the younger version of me always going to be with me throughout the rest of my life?

The point is that I've always been an introverted person that often reflects deeply into my own life that it sometimes it frightens me. And when I see a film like "Only Yesterday", it's like looking in a mirror. It's because of this fact that "Only Yesterday" speaks to me on so many levels.

The story follows a Japanese girl named Taeko (Miki Imai), who's in her late twenties. She has a great job in Tokyo, yet she still prefers to spend her summers working in the countryside. As we watch her traveling to her friend's farm, she reminisces various instance from her past. Often reflecting upon her fifth grade self, as if she was there with her. A lot of the flashbacks she tells are random, but it gives us plenty of insight of who she is as a character.

Some of her flashbacks are humorous and charming, while others aren't so much. The truth is life can have it's ups and downs, yet it's the choices we make moving forward in life that truly matter. Some people pick up right away about what they want out of life, while others don't figure out until they're much older. "Only Yesterday" plays on this concept quite well, as it's chalked full of emotional insight about life itself. How precious life can be, and how sometimes we can take it for granted. Or, how blind we can be to other people's feelings.

While I'm sure "Only Yesterday" won't garner the same amount of love and praise that most visually stylized anime films get, but it's certainly worth watching nonetheless, as it's a great story about life itself.

The animation is beautiful as one could expect from a Studio Ghibli film. While it won't blow anyone away with it's artsy creativity like "Spirited Away" or "The Tale of Princess Kaguya", it does however seem reminiscent of "The Wind Rises", where it takes ordinary scenery out of everyday life, and somehow turns it into a work of art.

Leave it up to the minds of Studio Ghibli to take something simple like a girl that goes off to the country side for the summer to work on a farm, and somehow turn it into a thing of beauty that acts as a deep social commentary about life itself.

If you're into Japanese anime, then I'd highly recommend checking out this precious masterpiece.

© 2016 Steven Daniels


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