Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday) -

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Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Japan
  • Released By: Buena Vista Home Entertainment Japan
  • MSRP: 4,700 yen
  • Running time: 119
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Only Yesterday

Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday)

By Chris Beveridge     April 27, 2003
Release Date: March 07, 2003

Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday)
© Buena Vista Home Entertainment Japan

What They Say
Director Isao Takahata is well known as Hayao Miyazaki's once mentor, and present Ghibli partner. Like Miyazaki, he's highly acclaimed for his distinguishing filmmaking style. "Omoide Poro Poro," a gentle, rich and moving film from Takahata, is considered by many as one of his masterpieces, and it comes to DVD with a bonus disc packed with extras. The movie is set in the summer of 1982, and it tells the story of an office worker in her late twenties named Taeko who takes a ten-day leave from work to visit the countryside. Along the way, memories of her childhood come flashing back into her mind... Her story is funny, exhilarating and poignant at the same time, and delights us the audience in much the same way "Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro)" does.

The Review!
Director Isao Takahata takes the helm once again to bring a Ghibli movie to life, and like just about everything else he?s done, I simply fall in love with it.

With no dub having ever been made for this film, we only get the original Japanese dialogue track in stereo form. The audio for the most part is very heavily dialogue driven, so it?s generally center channel based in presentation, but there are some nice stereo moments as you have characters moving across the screen as well as some nicely done musical moments. We noticed no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Presented in its original aspect ratio and encoded for anamorphic displays, this is probably the best this film has looked for me. The film is done in a realistic style, like many of the Ghibli movies, so the color palette is subdued for the most part, but when the vibrant colors come out, they?re very striking. It wasn?t until halfway into the film that I remembered that I actually needed to be looking for issues as the transfer had so won me over. Throughout the show, we found no instances of cross coloration and only a very minor instance or two of aliasing during some panning areas. This is a great looking presentation.

This two disc release is presented in a single white keepcase with the cover art style matching all the other Ghibli Collection releases. Inside the light tan bands we get the really nice image of Taeko with Toshio and the other young girl she?s staying with as well as the ten year old Taeko all under a tree as the sun begins to set. This really does give clue to what the show is like, in that it?s very soft and relaxed. The back cover has a full shot of one of the scenes from the show with all the production and technical features listed as well as a brief summary of the films premise.

The menus here are identical to past releases, which means simple small static pages with little life to them. These continue to be the most disappointing piece visually with the discs, but at least they function well and load quickly.

The second disc contains all the extras, which includes a forty-six minute making of special (unsubtitled) as well as the big extra of the full storyboards with audio track.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
From the first time I saw this film, it left a very definite impression on me. During the week long festival that showed all the Ghibli films that were out prior to Princess Mononoke, I managed to essentially get caught up by seeing them all on the big screen and with the festival translations for them, with the exception of I Can Hear The Ocean. The ones that continue to come back to strike a chord with me the most are the ones that Takahata directed.

Omohide Poro Poro, or Only Yesterday, takes place in 1982 as we follow twenty seven year old Takeo on her ten day vacation to the country. Unlike a lot of other people her age, especially taking that much time, she?s not going out of the country on holiday, but rather to a country farm many miles outside of Tokyo, where an adopted family of sorts lets her stay while she gets to get in tune with the earth. She did this the previous year and worked in the rice fields, but this year she?s off to work in the Safflower side of things.

The reasons behind these kinds of vacations come to us in flashbacks as we see the world in 1966 through the eyes of ten year old Takeo. This starts off quickly, as we see how all of this began with her friends going off on big vacations and essentially leaving her alone. She does manage to go on a small excursion to Atami with her grandmother, and she manages to take in all the great bath houses there, but she overdoes it and is rushed home.

The film then begins its interweaving of stories that reflect parts of each other, as we go through Taeko?s experiences as an adult and working the farmland with the adopted family, as well as ?cousin? Toshio. Toshio?s an interesting person, as he?s done what she?s tempted by, in that he left his office job and now works the land for a living, working on an organic farm. The two get along very well, and you can see the hints of something growing there, but it?s done very well in the near-oblivious manner in which many women fail to see what?s right by them. Watching this evolution is amusing, especially since I?ve seen it happen in real life so many times.

The time spent with the ten year old Taeko is equally as entertaining, seeing her go through school, dealing with siblings and parents and having all sorts of run-ins over that year of her life. So much of it is pretty simple, since it?s just the tale of a young girl, but there are so many things that echo through my own life, allowing me to easily see my own girls developing certain aspects of Taeko.

Only Yesterday is the kind of film where a lot of things go on, but there?s not a real story per se. There is a definite change in the characters from the beginning to end, particularly if you envision it as the ten year old to twenty seven year old as being the beginning and the end, but it?s so beautifully layered that it doesn?t matter that there isn?t a big storyline going on here. Add in that the animation is just very richly done that I can?t help but to fall in love with it. Whether it be the early scene where a boy who likes Taeko confronts her in the street, and you see him set against the painted backdrop of the sun setting, or the visuals of the little car plodding along while you see the deep blue sky and clouds reflected in the puddles alongside the dirt road. It?s this kind of animation that really makes me a fan of Ghibli.

Only Yesterday isn?t the film that everyone will flock to, nor will most even remember it likely. But it?s left a strong impression on me for a variety of reasons since I first saw it, and I?m quite excited to finally have a copy of my own to enjoy and to pull out whenever I want. Very recommended.

Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Making Of,Storyboards,Trailers

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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