Sunday, May 13, 2018

Omohide poro poro/Only Yesterday (1991)

A few days ago, I read that director Isao Takahata died.  Takahata co-founded Studio Ghibli along with Hayao Miyazaki.  The article pointed out something that I hadn’t considered before: Miyazaki tended to direct more fantastical movies whereas Takahata tended to direct more realistic ones.

In fact, Only Yesterday seems like something The Hallmark Channel might air, even if only on a superficial level.  The movie is about a woman living in a big city with a comfortable job.  She goes on vacation to a small town, where she finds that small-city life isn’t so bad.  The events of the movie force her to confront who she really is.  She even meets a potential love interest that she spends most of the movie not being overtly interested in romantically.

Taeko is actually visiting her brother-in-law’s family.  She wants to get away for a while, but has no real plans of staying there permanently.  She’s just trying to get away from city life by helping out with a safflower harvest.  While there, a lot of memories from her childhood resurface.  She has no idea why.

The movie is a little unusual in that it doesn’t seem to be aimed at children.  Taeko seems like a normal young girl.  She has trouble with fractions.  She’s maybe a little awkward around boys.  She even stresses out at being one of the few children not going on vacation for the summer.

The unusual part comes in that the movie deals with puberty and the onset of menstruation.  It’s mentioned as something that a young girl would be concerned about.  It’s not really explained in graphic detail, but it is something for parents to be aware of.  From what I’ve read, that’s what kept Disney from releasing it in America.  (GKIDS had to be the one to distribute it here.)

I didn’t really feel uncomfortable with the references.  The story focused on Taeko and her trip, for the most part.  It seems to be about her coming to terms with her life choices.  She’s used to big-city life, but is it really what she wants?  She’s single, but doesn’t seem set against a relationship.  (She does resist a little when people bring up dating.)

I would say that the movie is more for adults.  It should be safe for those 13 and above, but there might be some uncomfortable questions due to talk of puberty and dating.  It’s nothing that would scar a child, but you might want to be prepared to answer questions on basic reproduction.

IMDb page

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