Only Yesterday (1991 film)

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Only Yesterday
Japanese おもひでぽろぽろ
Hepburn Omoide Poro Poro
Directed by Isao Takahata
Produced by Toshio Suzuki
Written by Isao Takahata
Based on Omoide Poro Poro 
by Hotaru Okamoto
Yuko Tone
Starring Miki Imai
Toshiro Yanagiba
Yoko Honna
Music by Katz Hoshi
Edited by Takeshi Seyama
Distributed by Toho
Release dates
  • July 20, 1991 (1991-07-20)
Running time
118 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Only Yesterday (Japanese: おもひでぽろぽろ Hepburn: Omoide Poro Poro?, lit. "memories trickle down"[1]) is a 1991 Japanese animated drama film written and directed by Isao Takahata, based on the manga of the same title by Hotaru Okamoto and Yuko Tone.[2] Toshio Suzuki produced the film and Studio Ghibli provided the animation. It was released on July 20, 1991.[3] The ending theme song (愛は花、君はその種子 'Ai wa Hana, Kimi wa sono Tane', lit. "Love is a flower, you are its seed") is a Japanese translation of Amanda McBroom's composition "The Rose."

Only Yesterday is significant among progressive anime films in that it explores a genre traditionally thought to be outside the realm of animated subjects, in this case a realistic drama written for adults, particularly women. The film was, however, a surprise box office success, attracting a large adult audience of both genders.


In 1982, Taeko is 27 years old, unmarried, has lived her whole life in Tokyo and now works at a company there. She decides to take another trip to visit the family of the elder brother of her brother-in-law in the rural countryside to help with the safflower harvest and get away from city life. While traveling at night on a sleeper train to Yamagata, she begins to recall memories of herself as a schoolgirl in 1966, and her intense desire to go on holiday like her classmates, all of whom have family outside of the big city.

At the arrival train station, she is surprised to find out that her brother in law's second cousin, Toshio, whom she barely knows is the one who came to pick her up. During her stay in Yamagata, she finds herself increasingly nostalgic and wistful for her childhood self, while simultaneously wrestling with adult issues of career and love. The trip dredges up forgotten memories (not all of them good ones) — the first stirrings of childish romance, puberty and growing up, 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. In doing so, she begins to realize that Toshio has helped her along the way. Finally, Taeko faces her own true self, how she views the world and the people around her. Taeko chooses to stay in the countryside instead of returning to Tokyo. It is implied that she and Toshio began a relationship at the end of the movie.

Voice cast[edit]

  • Taeko Okajima (岡島 タエ子 Okajima Taeko?)Miki Imai
  • Toshio (トシオ?)Toshirō Yanagiba
  • Taeko (as 5th grade student) – Yōko Honna
  • Mother of Taeko – Michie Terada
  • Father of Taeko – Masahiro Itō
  • Grandmother of Taeko – Chie Kitagawa
  • Yaeko Okajima (ヤエ子?) – Yuki Minowa
  • Nanako Okajima (ナナ子?) – Yorie Yamashita

English cast[edit]

Film notes[edit]

The story takes place within the Takase district of Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture.[4] The Takase Station (and also Yamadera Station) of the JNR (currently JR East) Senzan Line is featured prominently; Though it has since been rebuilt, the scenery remains mostly unchanged. During the course of the film, characters visit prominent locales, including the resort destination of Mount Zao.

Unlike the typical Japanese character animation style, the characters have more realistic facial muscles and expressions due to dialogue being recorded first (the tradition in Japan is to record it after the animation is completed) and the animators fit the animation to the spoken dialogue. Only Taeko's childhood past (which has a more typical anime style) was animated before the voices were recorded.

Those scenes set in 1966 with the 10-year-old Taeko are taken from the source material. Takahata had difficulty adapting the episodic manga into a feature film, and he therefore invented the framing narrative wherein the adult Taeko journeys to the countryside and falls in love with Toshio.[2]

There is a repetitive Eastern European theme in the film, particularly in the soundtrack reflecting the peasant lifestyle still present in the area and the parallels this draws with Japanese rural life. Folk songs from the area repeatedly occur in the film. For example, "Frunzuliță Lemn Adus Cântec De Nuntă" (Fluttering Green Leaves Wedding Song) is a Romanian folk song written by Gheorghe Zamfir and occurs in the film repeatedly during the landscape shots, for example arriving at the farm. Instruments used include the prominent nai played by Zamfir himself, cimbalom and violins.[5] There is also Hungarian music in the film, using pieces of music such as Brahms "Hungarian Dance No. 5" in a scene where Taeko is eating lunch, and making references to Hungarian musicians when she is in the car with Toshio ("Teremtés" performed by Sebestyén Márta & Muzsikás. Adaptation from a Hungarian traditional folk song). The music of Márta Sebestyén with Muzsikás is used in several scenes as well.[6] Bulgarian folklore music is also used in the soundtrack. When Taeko is on the field, one can first hear Dilmano, Dilbero, followed by Malka Moma Dvori Mete. These are typical Bulgarian folklore songs and the lyrics of both are connected to topics mentioned in the film – the life of farmers and marriage.

The TV character Machine Gun Dandy looks like Daisuke Jigen of Lupin III fame. The character is seen when Taeko recalls her favorite puppet show Hyokkori Hyotan Jima (ひょっこりひょうたん島 "Floating Gourd Island"?) that aired every weekday on NHK from 1964 to 1969 as a child.


  • Germany – Released on June 6, 2006, under title of Tränen der Erinnerung (Tears of Memory) – Only Yesterday (Universum Film GmbH).[7]
  • Australia – Released on October 11, 2006 (Madman Entertainment).[8]
  • United Kingdom – Released on September 4, 2006 (Optimum Releasing).[9]
  • North America – The film remains the only theatrical Studio Ghibli feature not yet released on home video in the United States or Canada, although a subtitled version of the film was aired on Turner Classic Movies in January 2006, as part of the channel's month-long salute to Miyazaki and Ghibli.[citation needed] GKIDS announced in 2015 that it will release the film in theaters in North America in 2016 along with an English dub, with actors Daisy Ridley, Dev Patel, Ashley Eckstein and Alison Fernandez confirmed to lend their voices.[10]
    • It is scheduled for release January 1, 2016 in New York City and nationwide in the United States on February 26, 2016. [11]

The film was released on Blu-ray in Japan on December 5, 2012.


Only Yesterday was surprisingly the highest grossing Japanese film on the domestic market in 1991, earning ¥1.87 billion in distribution income, considering that the film was targeted for adults, rather than children.[12] The film also received critical acclaim and has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[13] It has a score of 94% on Metacritic[14] Nicolas Rapold of the New York Times, gave the film a positive review, saying "Mr. Takahata’s psychologically acute film, which was based on a manga, seems to grow in impact, too, as the adult Takao comes to a richer understanding of what she wants and how she wants to live."[15] Glenn Kenny of awarded it a similarly positive review, saying "Like “Kaguya,” it functions as a highly sensitive and empathetic consideration of the situation of WOMEN in Japanese society—but it’s also a breathtaking work of art on its own."[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Team Ghiblink. "Only Yesterday: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Q: What does "Omohide Poroporo" mean?". Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  2. ^ a b Team Ghiblink. "Only Yesterday: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Q: Is it based on a manga or a book?". Retrieved 2007-01-09. 
  3. ^ "Omohide Poro Poro"., May 13, 2012
  4. ^ Team Ghiblink. "Only Yesterday: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Q: Where did it take place?". Retrieved 2007-01-09. 
  5. ^ The Internet Movie Database. "Only Yesterday: Cast". Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  6. ^ Team Ghiblink. "Only Yesterday: CD Guide". Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  7. ^ "Tränen der Erinnerung – Only Yesterday" (in German). Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  8. ^ "Release Information: Only Yesterday". Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  9. ^ "Optimum Releasing: Only Yesterday". Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  10. ^ "GKids to Release Ghibli's Only Yesterday in Theaters in N. America". Anime News Network. 24 August 2015. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  11. ^ "Unreleased Studio Ghibli feature finally receives English dub, dated for January". Polygon. Retrieved 2015-12-05. 
  12. ^ "Kako haikyū shūnyū jōi sakuhin 1991-nen" (in Japanese). Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan. Retrieved 6 February 2011. 
  13. ^ "Omohide poro poro (Only Yesterday) (1991)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved 13 December 2015. 
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External links[edit]