ONLY YESTERDAY
OMOHIDE PORO PORO
1991, Studio Ghibli, 118 min, Japan, Dir: Isao Takahata

Realizing that she is at a crossroads in her life, bored 20-something Taeko heads for the countryside. The trip dredges up forgotten childhood memories that unfold in flashback to younger years: the first immature stirrings of romance, the onset of puberty, the frustrations of math and boys. In lyrical switches between the present and the past, Taeko wonders if she has been true to the dreams of her childhood self. Directed by Isao Takahata and produced by Hayao Miyazaki, ONLY YESTERDAY is a double period piece that beautifully evokes both the 1960s and the 1980s, and the quintessential drama of Japanese schoolday nostalgia. Studio Ghibli is known for its female heroines, from Princesses Nausicaa and Mononoke to Kiki to Ponyo - but with ONLY YESTERDAY it delves deeper into the real emotional experiences of girls/women than perhaps any animated film before or since.


MY NEIGHBORS THE YAMADAS
HOHOKEKYO TONARI NO YAMADA-KUN
1999, Studio Ghibli, 104 min, Japan, Dir: Isao Takahata

In a break from the frequently mythical storytelling of Studio Ghibli, director Isao Takahata wryly tweaks the everyday activities of family life with his depiction of the irresponsible, slovenly, and lazy Yamada family and their unassuming way of life. With cartoonlike characters and visual design unlike anything else in the Ghibli canon, the film is illustrated in a series of rough sketches and outlines, which are then filled with soft colors that evoke watercolor painting.


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