Only Yesterday review

It is 1982, and Taeko has lived all her twenty-seven years in Tokyo. She has reached the age where her family is starting to worry if she will ever ‘settle down’, but she isn’t interested. She has more fun things on her mind, such as her upcoming holiday, in which she will travel to the lovely Yamagata prefecture to help with the saffron harvest. During her journey, she reflects on her life as a schoolgirl in 1966, experiencing the weave of those memories into the present.

Why did Isao Takahata’s 1991 Studio Ghibli masterpiece take 25 years to find an American release? Well… never mind that, it’s here, in gorgeous, fully-restored glory.

What does Taeko want from life? Spending time on the bridge between her urban memories, and her very likable hosts in the small agricultural village, could be the right place to find out.

This is one of those movies from which you could extract dozens of gorgeous computer desktop background images. The scenes of train travel and rural Yamagata are loving in detail and composition. The sound engineering and direction leave memories for us, the audience, to enjoy.

It isn’t a huge story, it’s just a beautiful film that, like Taeko’s vacation, is a respite from the corrosive stress of ordinary life. It may be an early example of Iyashikei, or healing anime. I have even given copies of it as gifts.

Here’s an excellent analysis of the visual style and directing in the film:

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Older technology guy with photography and history background