Only Yesterday (1991)

Only Yesterday from Studio Ghible 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.

It was released on July 20, 1991. The ending theme song “Ai wa Hana, Kimi wa sono Tane” Love is a flower, you are the seed” is a Japanese translation of Amanda McBroom’s composition “The Rose”, made famous by the Bette Midler version..

Only Yesterday is a realistic drama written for adults, particularly women. 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.

Set inn 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 a trip to visit the family of the elder brother of her brother-in-law 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.

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 film alternates between the adult and child stories. There is little overall story, it feels more like a impressionist version of a film. Just impressions, hints and feelings about the central character.

Because of this, and its realism there was little to engage me.

So although I saw all of the two hour film, this is my least favorite of the Studio Ghible films.

The English dub features Daisy Ridley (Star Wars) and Dev Patel.