Feature Play: Only Yesterday (Omoide Poro Poro)
The name Isao Takahata is a name that fans of Grave of the Fireflies will know and love. His works are known for collaborating both the literary and the artistic into a masterful experience. One of the best words to explain his work is cathartic. Omoide Poro Poro is one of the best works by Takahata. Like his other works there is something existential and emotional in experiencing his work.
Omohide Poro Poro is deeply reflective and personal. It’s as if he took his characters’ heads and cracked them open, like eggs, and allowed us to experience what they’re experiencing. The story of “Only Yesterday” focuses on an office worker who lives in Tokyo. She’s 27 years old and is dissatisfied with how her life. We are first introduced to her as she decides that she wants to spend some time, a week to be exact, with her sister’s in-laws who don’t live in her country.
Like many people, she wonders if she’s spent her whole life pretending to be someone that she doesn’t feel she is.
The story does an interesting then and now with the character’s 1982 and 1966 self. The flashbacks are childlike with a watercolor, coloring book aesthetic to it. It will remind viewers of the books they read as kids, which is the perfect way to represent childhood.
The movie does a good job of being both tragic and insightful without being overtly melodramatic or preachy. Taeko has gone through a lot, as is revealed in the story. She’s had both greater and lesser losses.
In modern day, many people will consider this movie to be a Studio Ghibli meets josei genre, and for many reasons that does make sense. You have the magical, you have the slice of life, and also have the imaginative and creative way of convey a universal message of what it means to be human. If you haven’t seen Omohide Poro Poro yet, you’re missing out.