Only Yesterday Review

   Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 2.28.02 PMWhilst Miyazaki will regularly delve into the depths of the fantastical, Isao Takahata always finds a way to captivate our imaginations with the most relatable tales that gently touch on the complexity of human emotions. In Only Yesterday, Takahata is able to present us with a portrait of maturity that works like a non-linear Boyhood that studies the evolution of emotional growth from an outsider’s point of view. With Only Yesterday, Takahata is able to create a warm feeling of remembrance by going back and looking at the first times, whether this be the first time Taeko falls in love or the first time she gets her dreams crushed, Only Yesterday packs such an emotional punch because it doesn’t simply present us with the moments, but rather comments of the absurd nature of them from an adult’s perspective and then depicts variations of these situations in the adult life realm. It is because of its smart way of recognizing the repetitive patterns of life that Only Yesterday shines, wittily commenting on these slices of life, and further-along depicting the emotional turmoil or  growth that each of these situations mean. When talking about Studio Ghibli’s film it is a given that the animation is beautiful, but Takahata’s choice to make the animated memories hazy and distant meanwhile anything that happened in the now detailed too perfection is an extremely clever way of presenting a story based on memories, reflecting both on how a mind works and how our mind tries to repress the more painful memories by soaking them in absurdity or defacing them in haziness.  Yet, no film is perfect, not even a Studio Ghibli film, thus I must state the few problems I had with the film. First off, though it works as a reflective study on the repetition of life and the distancing of memories, Only Yesterday is plot-less in the same way Boyhood is plot-less, though it serves as beautiful analysis on emotional growth, Only Yesterday doesn’t appear to have a clear objective that its trying to reach so by the end of it you are emotionally struck by the journey that has been presented through the eyes of Taeka, yet upon further reflection you realize Only Yesterday didn’t really go anywhere by the end of it, not particularly bad  but frustrating to a certain degree. Secondly, because of its original story-telling techniques and its non-established time-guidelines Only Yesterday does feel lost in time most of the time, and because the periods of time spent with each version of Taeka was so different while I was immersed in young Taeka’s story I completely forgot about current-Taeka sometimes and vice-versa, so when I was brought back to the alternate-time version of Taeka I was partially conflicted wanting to go back or feeling like the time spent with the other Taeka was way too short. Though these are criticisms, i am really nitpicking at this point because I loved the resulting emotional punch and experience that Takahata presents the audience in Only Yesterday. Only Yesterday is a fantastic film, a beautiful look at the past and how it resembles the present, and an 88 out of 100.

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