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●「Making of おもひでぽろぽろ」
I can't wait until this finally comes out in the UK, in English as a blu-ray
[update: the new Blu-Ray version is fantastic, the animation is sharpened for meeting the high definition demands! as always, the film is great-although i'm not sure about the English dub voice choices for Naeko and Toshio]
I think that the film's achievements are attributable to a number of factors. To start with, despite this film is only available in Japanese with English sub-titles, the script is exceptional. It works on three levels:- as conversation in the present, as a reflective and profound monologue upon the past experienced by the prinicple character Taeko and ,utlimately, in the scenes that take place when she was ten years old. The childhood scenes seem to resonate with truth in their depiction of awkwardness and serve to show how society changed in the decades that followed the 1960's. Take for example the scenario with the new experience with the recently introduced pineapple which is dealt with in a bittersweet fashion that obviously attempt to replicate Proust's famous madelaines.
It goes without saying that the quality of illustrations from this studio are of the usual high standard but "Only Yesterday" offers two styles of images. The "recent" scenes are all drawn in the familiar Ghibli style. On the other hand, the scenes with the 10 year old Taeko set in the 1960's feature backgrounds which are a kind of washed out water colour with the characters seem a little more cartoonish although with no less expression. I felt that this was a brave decision by the film makers and totally inspired. It also allows a few liberties to be taken with reality such as the conclusion of the scene where Taeko meets the base-ball playing friend who has a crush on her in a street and both characters are too embarrassed to say anything other than to ask each other what their favourite kind of weather is. I found this scene to be especially effecting and it ends in a totally unexpected fashion. However, the film's trump card is not played until the film appears to have ended when Taeko boards the train home to Tokyo from her holiday in the countryside. As exceptional as the film had been up to that point, I felt this was truly the icing on the cake.
It is not difficult to explain why a film about a 27 year old woman reflecting upon an awkwards childhood should appeal to this 40-something, male reviewer. Despite being set in Japan, it shows that childhood has plenty things about it which are universal and nicely records how seemingly insignificant events can have a bearing on how a child develops. Most people will be able to recognise many of the incidents recounted in this film themselves regardless of their gender. "Only yesterday" is also very much a "feel good" film even though this is a film that has been made by people with intelligence and vision. The only point that I felt to be slightly uncomfortable for me were the scenes concerning "female development" which did shock me a bit but the whole issue was dealt with in a delicate fashion and it served a purpose to illustrate Taeko's embarrassment. Ultmately, it did manage to retain a degree of dignity as well as humour. Not a subject that you would expect to encounter in cinema but I doubt if it could have been dealt with more sensitively as in this film. Much of the film's success is also due to the fact that Taeko is a modest and admirable character. The parts of the film concerning struggling at mathematics also amused me - the first time I've ever seen the questioning of the logic of dividing fractions by another fractions! I'm on Taeko's side with this one! Another scene shows her responding to a younger child in a fashion that contrasts earlier with her own treatment at a similar age by her parents and older sibblings. Miyazaka's film are usually notable for their strong, female characters and it is difficult not to fall a little bit in love with Taeko who is one of Ghibli's finest creations. She is not a 2-dimenstional character and finely etched as a very admirable human being in a superior piece of script writing.
In conclusion, this film is not only the most exceptional film from the Ghibli stable but also one of the finest pieces of film-making from the 1990's. "Only yesterday" offers ample reason to jettison those reservations about both foriegn language films and animation. An essential addition to any film collection.
Only Yesterday is one of the more unusual Ghibli films in that it is centred around a far more real and less fantastical story but one that is just as engaging and endearing. It follows the story of a woman looking back on her life and all the connections she has made through family and childhood friends all the way to present day where she is trying to find a sense of herself and where she belongs.
It is a time old tale of self discovery and living ones life to the fullest, managing others expectations while living a life that's true to you.
All this done only as Studio Ghibli could
This is a groundbreaking animation in many ways. Never before in the history of Japanese animation, an unassuming late twenty years old office worker has been chosen as a main character and her psychological metamorphosis has been explored in such depth and with such intimacy. Her childhood memories intertwine with her present life and compel her to make a momentous decision of her life. The beauty of this story is that the mysterious relationship to her inner-self is left unexplained but anyone can identify with the sense of being in harmoney with cycle of life when one is about to make a life changing decision. That makes this story of an orninary life of an ordinary person profoundly moving.
The special feature includes original sketch version of the whole film and a long documentary about the painstaking process of hand-drawn animation production using cellulose acetate and about the inspirational rivalry between Takahata and Miyazaki.
Well, not a girl anymore but a woman possibly getting too old for the marriage market, something that hasn't interested her before or caused her concern.
Like so.many Ghibli films a beautiful study of character and interpersonal relationships.
I found it a great shame that some others here said it was 'dull'; if found it to be anything but! I was riveted from beginning to end, and found the very end (whilst the credits rolled, rather oddly) of the story to be a real 'Awww!' moment. Action-packed it ain't, but a wonderful, enjoyable, I would even say 'masterpiece' of a story, myself.
Highly recommended; just go for it!
It has a simple honesty and beauty that enchants. It's also one of the very nicest love stories.
The animation is truly amazing. The minute details of mannerisms and movements of people, not to mention the details of everyday things that surround the characters as the move through the story, is the work of true masters - primarily Isao Takahata and with Hayao Miyazaki influence.
If I had to go to a desert island, taking with me only a few items of each medium: books, music and film - this would most definitely be on my shortlist of treasures that would have to come with me.
If you are a romatic or given to daydreaming and reminiscence, then buy and enjoy this true gem.
Totally would recommend!
In true keeping with Studio Ghibli tradition of character depth, tentative social and cultural observation combined with passionate detail it must be said that this film conveys perhaps the most warming and intuitive storytelling from the genre to date. Its a masterclass and may well be a long way from being equalled.
Now available on dvd outside of Japan it deserves a place in any good collection.