May 25, 2010

Omohide poro poro (Only Yesterday) (1991)

Isao Takahata's second feature at Studio Ghibli, despite being a light nostalgic drama about growing up and one woman's introspection into her attitude on life, establishes Takahata's style, along with Grave of the Fireflies, as one that has an appeal to a somewhat older audience, with perhaps an affinity for more adult themes than those usually explored by fellow Miyazaki. While alternating between 1966 and 1982, the heroine reminisces about her life as a 10 year old in Tokyo and how it shaped her outlook on life 16 years later at 27. There is slow buildup toward the final climax that brings her to some painful realizations, but eventually she is redeemed and we are offered an optimistic conclusion as the credits roll by. Overall enjoyable, although I think it might have been more effective without the happy ending. It offers, in small part, a critique of industrial and urban life vs. a farmer's simple country life, although it is very much idealized and romanticized to fit in with the emotional path that the film is taking. Preferred it over Grave of the Fireflies, which I felt was trying too hard to jerk those tears, and I think it was a more adult and rational view on emotions and growing up, at least to the extent that anime can get at.