Memories will finally come tumbling down in the United States in 2016…
I’m Henry Gilbert, and when I’m not host a comic book podcast called Cape Crisis (via the support on the Laser Time Patreon), I’ve been known to write a few posts about my love for Ghibli films, especially the work of director Hayao Miyazaki. But in the US, the work of Ghibli co-founder and Miyazaki’s older brother, Isao Takahata, is less discussed, and one of his greatest feature films has never seen official release in North America. But now, at long last, there’s news that Only Yesterday will FINALLY see an official localization, as well as a theatrical run in 2016.
For the uninitiated, Only Yesterday (aka Omoide Poro Poro, is one of Ghibli’s best, though the world is far more mundane than other works, and that’s mostly due to Takahata’s films favoring more slice of life style than Miyazaki. A young woman named Taeko takes a vacation to relatives in the countryside as she tries to figure out her priorities, but her mind keeps flashing back to her school life as an 11-year-old, and in both eras she learns a number of lessons on her way to maturity. And I swear, if that sounds uninteresting to you, you’re way off.
Only Yesterday is like a double dose of nostalgia, as it’s set very specifically in 1982 Japan, as well as flashing back to 1966 Japan. Again, a big change from many of Ghibli’s other films, and the choice really works in submerging you in a time and place, even if you never lived anywhere near it. Though maybe it feels universal because Taeko’s growing pains and family drama is recognizable to anyone who remembers being a child.
As surprising as it may sound to US fans who have waited decades to see Only Yesterday, both the UK and Australia have had the film since 2006, all while Disney has drug its feet on putting out a US DVD or Blu-ray. And, as the rumor says, they still aren’t, instead letting GKids publish it, just as the company did with Princess Kaguya, Takahata’s most recent film.
Personally, I never thought Omoide Poro Poro would get a real release in the US, so I bought a $75 Blu-ray of it the last time I was in Tokyo – the English subtitles are included, so I had no trouble. I’m not sure what held it up in the US. Perhaps because it isn’t as kid-friedly as Kiki or Ponyo. Maybe the price of using all that licensed music is too high? Or do they think American audience won’t be able to connect with a film that recalls a Japan of almost 50 years ago?
Whatever the case, Only Yesterday will at last get its US premiere just in time for its 25th anniversary, and if it comes to a theater, I suggest you see it – remember “subs before dubs,” ok? Oh, and if you like Ghibli, check out the time we LT crew visited the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo.
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