Only Yesterday (1991) – [subtitled]
For the next few weeks I’ll be watching all the Studio Ghibli films. Some again, some for the first time.

Isao Takahata’s follow up to Grave of the Fireflies is just as dynamic and powerful, yet vastly more uplifting. You will be moved, heart warmed, fall into childhood memories, smile, cringe, and perhaps, like me, cheer with eyes blurred.

The film is an empathic look at the plight of women, especially in Japanese society. That said, this film will affect anyone who has ever questioned the direction of their lives, felt like their life has been shaped and guided by the memories of past, and how we reconcile who we were as a child to who we’ve become as an adult.

Similarly to how Totoro and Fireflies mirror each other thematically, yet are extremely different films in style, as well as narrative, Only Yesterday is a perfect coming-of-age companion to Kiki’s Delivery Service. There is no magic, no airships, no chase scenes, no evil villains bent on world domination, just a young woman unsure about her future, as she peers into her past.

Only Yesterday is a slow burning, intimate, introspective, life-affirming, near perfect piece of cinema. I laughed, cried, and was touched by every scene. Everyone should experience this film.