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Anime: Only Yesterday
Present & Past Taeko

It's 1982 and 27-year old unmarried Taeko Okajima works as an office lady in Tokyo. She decides to spend her summer holiday at her sister-in-law's farm in the countryside to help out with the safflower harvest, since she liked going there the year before. She sees it as a great way to get a break from the city life for a while.

During her trip she gets overcome with memories of when she was 10 years old and in fifth grade. In a series of flashbacks, imaginatively interwoven with her current life, a picture forms of her youth, filled with math problems, friends, boys and the typical throes of a girl growing up. It results in her wondering whether she is being true to her own nature in life, since she wanted to be in the country as a little girl already.

Only Yesterday, Japanese title Omohide Poro Poro, was released in 1991 and is a typical Studio Ghibli product— minus the fantastic plot devices that permeate most of the studio's work. It was directed by Isao Takahata and produced by Hayao Miyazaki. The result features lots of lovely scenery, intriguing, believable characters and wonderful, fluid animation.


Tropes:

  • Adorkable: Toshio. Clumsy, not terribly intelligent, a little too forward, and generally a bit of a hick, but very friendly and eager to put others at ease. He proudly declares himself a peasant and listens to strange Hungarian folk music.
  • Author Tract: The movie is filled with monologues about the importance of Japanese farm life.
  • Bland-Name Product: Young Taeko does her daily exercises listening to a "Suny" radio.
    • Averted with Puma; the youthful desire for the same brand-name products that "everyone" has is a plot point, and Puma is the brand in question. The film even cuts to an image of Puma's logo that takes up the entire screen.
  • Call to Agriculture
  • Christmas Cake: Taeko's mother is annoyed that she turned down a marriage proposal, saying "at 27, that's the best she's going to get".
  • City Mouse: Taeko, obviously.
  • Coming of Age Story: In a double dose—once when Taeko was a child, and another at a later age.
  • Cool Big Sis: Taeko to one of the younger girls on the farm.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Taeko's grandma occasionally has something to say about the family matters.
  • The Determinator: Little Taeko is determined to enjoy that sour pineapple she was so excited about by forcing herself to eat as much as she could.
    • After getting scolded for trying to give her onions to her father, little Taeko shows a desire to be a better eater by begging her mother not to dispose of the onions.
  • Empathic Environment: It starts to pour down while Taeko is dealing with her biggest inner turmoil.
  • Family Theme Naming: Taeko and her older sister, Yaeko.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Taeko's father rudely cuts short Taeko's acting career by forbidding her to do it, saying "show-business people are no good" and offering no further elaboration.
  • Ghibli Hills: You have to ask?
  • I Choose to Stay
  • Imagine Spot: Loads as Young Taeko, a bit less as an adult.
  • Iyashikei
  • Love Epiphany: While on the train back to Tokyo, Taeko starts seeing her ten-year old self and her classmates from back then everywhere, and she realizes her love for the countryside and possibly Toshio too is not just an escape. She decides to return and invokes I Choose to Stay because of this.
  • Magic Realism: The ending, where Taeko's ten-year old self and classmates seem to interact with real life: they stop the bus and make Toshio stumble.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • Taeko's older sisters invoke this while marveling about the lovely baths at Atami to Taeko. They are luxurious bath, but they're praising it just to play along with Taeko when really they have no interest in the bathhouses themselves. Being a kid, Taeko is excited over lovely bathhouses.
    • The family, especially little Taeko, makes a big deal out of having a pineapple in their household. Justified in the culture and time period where Japan was used to canned goods and imported fruit was very expensive.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Implied. Taeko's dad slaps Taeko because she accidentally ran outside with only her socks on (which was the equivalent of being in your undergarments). Taeko's wails as he watches. Taeko questions why it was the first and only time it happened.
  • Nice Hat: Toshio sports a particularly nice baseball cap.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Girls discuss their periods. Boys discuss the girls' periods. Girls chase boys with brooms.
  • Real Place Background: Eidan Marunouchi-sen subway, Ueno Station and the some of the countryside.
  • Scenery Porn: As usual for a Ghibli movie, but this one delivers some lovely scenes involving safflower.
  • Shout-Out: A visual one for E.T. Doesn't make sense in context.
  • Shown Their Work: Lots of details from 1960's culture (including The Beatles) and the Subaru R-2 subcompact car.
  • Slice of Life
  • The Stoic: Taeko's dad and Taeko's grandma (to a lesser extent).
  • Tohoku Regional Accent: Most of the present day scenes take place in Tohoku's Yamagata prefecture, so it is to be expected. The old ladies have particularly strong ones.
  • Written Sound Effect: The Japanese title, roughly Trickling-Rain Memories. Taeko's memories of her childhood come trickling back to her in this fashion.

Kiki's Delivery ServiceCreator/Studio GhibliPorco Rosso
Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!No Dub for YouWagaya no Oinari-sama
One PieceMadmanEntertainment/Anime & MangaOokami-san
Non Non BiyoriIyashikeiSketchbook
Once Upon a Time in ChinaFilms of the 1990sOscar
Oniisama e...AnimeOokami-san
Okane Ga NaiJoseiParadise Kiss

alternative title(s): Omohide Poro Poro; Only Yesterday
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