Nostalgia Saturdays: Only Yesterday

Twenty-five years ago the Studio Ghibli that created so many of our movie-going memories released a film titled “Only Yesterday.” Now in 2016, we are finally getting an English dubbed release for DVD and the fans are going crazy again. Studio Ghibli may currently be on hiatus but there are still many hopefuls out there waiting for its grand return.

Some think this is a new movie, but sadly it is not. It is, however, a movie that deserves to be watched all the same.

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A few years ago I downloaded the movie and had it on my to-watch list for the longest time, but I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. There was never enough time or I wasn’t in the mood and it sat waiting for me for an eternity in my backup flash drive. So in honor of its release in English I decided to finally sit down and watch the original in Japanese. And I’m glad I watched it now rather than back then.

Some movies can only be appreciated when you watch it at a certain point in your life after experiencing certain events and evaluating certain decisions. “Only Yesterday” was one of those movies. The 19, now almost 20, year old me finds this sort of movie moving, but if I had watched it when I was an adolescent I think it wouldn’t speak to me as much.

The main heroine is a 27-year-old working woman who is going on a trip to the countryside to harvest safflower during the summer. During her journey, she thinks back to the days of her fifth grade self and reminisces of all the good and bad events that took place that eventually shaped her into the woman she is today. It was a beautiful walk down memory lane, understandable because so many girls and boys alike grew up with awkward phases in between the transition from childhood to adulthood. Especially when it came to sex education. I think that was my favorite part of the movie. How similar it was to the flawed way sex-ed is taught now. And how wonderfully funny it was back then when the girls first learned they would get blood dripping down their legs. And the boys never having any clue what it meant.

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The movie captured an innocence that we lost when we were younger. After childhood, all that is left within the heart are the memories that mattered most or those that caused certain levels of traumas. It embraces and celebrates life as it is. I do believe that it is catered to the more adult audience because it does delve pretty deeply into psychology at one point, but other than that I think all age groups can enjoy it because it’s highly relatable. Even more so if you’re older and the type to reflect back on life very often.

From puppy love to conflicts in the home, sibling rivalries and parents’ approvals, expectations and failures, desires and obstacles, this movie delivered a simplicity of living that so many still struggle to convey to this day. And it does it in the most truthful way.

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Imagine growing up watching so many fairy-tale-esque ghibli movies in your pre-teen and teen years and then watching a slice-of-life like this out of the blue when you’re finally an adult. But in all honesty, I wouldn’t have it any other way since I grew to love the slice-of-life genre more than most. I actually crave for slice-of-life since so few can make a durable series without adding any drama to it other than psychological struggles. The only better time I could have chosen to watch this movie is when I turn thirty.

Watching it sure did bring me back though. To a simpler time. Elementary school wasn’t the best, but it had its moments and I think when I turn twenty in six months I’ll still think back to it occasionally, about the people I spent time with and where they are now.

What could have happened and what never did. Such is the path we must continue to lead.

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