I thought that I had seen just about all the Ghibli movies there were to see, but alas, I have not. Aside from the Ghibli shorts, there are two elusive Ghibli films that I really want to see, especially since they both seem to be more in the vein of the studio’s slice-of-life fare, like Whisper of the Heart. Only Yesterday (Omoide Poro Poro, lit. “Memories Come Tumbling Down) is one such movie that hasn’t officially been released in the states. Why would they do that to me?
From what I’ve gathered, Only Yesterday is about Taeko Okajima, a stifled office worker going to her sisters-in-law in the rural countryside for a break. Over a period of 10 days we get a touching, slightly melancholy story of a woman as she remembers her life from the vantage point of being 27 and possibly not having lived up to the expectations of her youth. We get glimpses of her early years (there’s even supposed to be a Lupin reference – don’t keep me from a Lupin reference!) and by the end she has to decide how she wants to live her life from now on.
I guess I see why Disney hasn’t been so forward with releasing this film since it is generally more partial to the more fantastical movies in the Ghibli catalogue. That’s on the lame side – I know I would have enjoyed The Secret World of Arrietty if she had just been a local girl rather than a diminutive magical creature. I think. Anyways, my only reservation about this movie is that it sounds like it could be a total downer. I feel that I am justified in this concern since the director, Isao Takahata, is the same one who did the incredibly depressing Grave of the Fireflies. But I’ll try to think positive since I still want to see it! So far it’s been shown randomly at some film festivals, but that doesn’t really help me here and now, does it? I really shouldn’t get so bitter about this. But there’s an Eastern European theme that runs throughout – of course I’d get a little bitter over being deprived of Eastern European motifs.
The film, released in 1991, is based on a manga with the same name by Hotaru Okamoto and Yuko Tone, and I totally want to read that too. The nostalgic scenes from 1966 (how current season of Mad Men of it!) sound so thrilling in the way that only scenes where nothing really happens can. The movie did surprisingly well in Japan, and there was also a musical version of this made last year, so it’s obviously fun in all mediums. I wouldn’t be surprised if this movie went the live action route too since it actually seems more geared towards that than animation. And I would watch that too!