Posted by psgels on 22 October 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews

Omoide Poro Poro, better known as Only Yesterday is a story of reminiscence. It features a twenty-seven year old woman who works in Tokyo, and heads into the countryside during her vacation. It is here where she starts getting nostalgic about her ten-year old self. It’s another Ghibli-production, directed not by Hayao Miyazaki, but by his best friend: Isao Takahata. While I haven’t seen much of his works, the guy seems to be famous because of his huge focus on realism.

And with Only Yesterday, this shows. Now that I’m writing this review, I can’t recall any other anime that had a higher degree of realism than Only Yesterday. Everything just feels so real, and if you’ve lived in Japan, this effect will probably be even clearer. The character-designs are simple, yet people really look lie Japanese people, instead of some crossover between Asians and Europeans, like you usually see. The voice-acting is terrific; you can actually hear that the characters are voiced by real people, instead of actors. Children are also children, and not thirty-year old adult who try to sound like children, something I’ve only seen a handful anime do as well.

But the thing that really shines is the dialogue. No matter who you are, there’ll almost certainly be at least one scene in the movie you can completely identify with, and the amount of detail it comes with is almost scary. Still, therein also lays a problem. I myself got lost a bit when the characters started talking about periods (you know… with women and all), and the main character’s father, who may be a normal person in Japan, was a bit hard to swallow for me, who grew up in Holland, which has probably an entirely opposite culture when compared to Japan.

Those who’ve been reading my blog probably know by now that I don’t really mind slow pacing, but with Only Yesterday, even I have to admit that the entire thing goes a bit too slow. Realism often comes at prices, and because of this, certain scenes just drag on forever in order to make them look as real as possible.

There’s also the lack of emotional tension. While I found it easy to identify with the main characters, I had difficulties sympathizing with her. That’s because there’s hardly any need for them to get emotional, not until the final few scenes of the movie. But with a total length of nearly two hours, the length of it may have been a bit too long. When the characters do get emotional in the end though, the scenes work out great.

I’m also surprised at the lack of background for the side-characters. They get fleshed out enough, but I would have loved to see how the old classmates of the main characters grew up after going to high-school and beyond, because they were quite interesting to watch. The main male side-character does also get a few lines of background, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

2 Responses

  1. Avatar Wyrdwad says:

    Wow, I remember watching this! This is the movie that got me hooked on the theme song for the old Japanese puppet TV show “Hyokkori Hyoutan Jima.” I actually tracked down the song in MP3 back when Napster was still this universally awesome place to find just about any song in existence… and during my time in Japan, Morning Musume actually did a cover of the Hyokkori Hyoutan Jima theme, kawaiing it up by about 6000%… but I still bought the single, because the song is awesome, no matter WHO sings it. (:


  2. Avatar Wyrdwad says:

    Actually, this reminds me: if you haven’t seen it yet, I HIGHLY recommend tracking down one of Ghibli’s other similarly-themed movies, “Whisper of the Heart” (a.k.a. Mimi wo Sumaseba). It’s a bit of an oddity, as it was WRITTEN by Miyazaki, but NOT directed by him… but it’s a freaking excellent movie, surpassing Only Yesterday in almost every regard.

    And while we’re on the subject of lesser-known awesome Ghibli movies… Porco Rosso is like, one of the best anime movies ever. I promise you, if you ever get a chance to watch it, it will be unlike any other anime movie you’ve ever seen.


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