This week, California Theater in Berkeley played host to the full catalog of Studio Ghibli films. I skeeved off work early to go see my favorite, "Only Yesterday," which, next to "Rushmore,"(a Wes Anderson, not Studio Ghibli movie) is my second favorite film. Okay, maybe they both vie for first.
"Only Yesterday," is the story of salary woman Taeko, who, at the age of 27, works in an office in Tokyo and is not yet married. Although, "marriage" as it is, is not the end goal of this film. But, why do I like it. Hmmm, I'm a salary girl working my butwaing off and dreaming of a more pastoral and creative life. Easy. Taeko and I are kindred. She's a sweet, sensitive weirdo. So am I. Her ten-year-old self follows her around. My eight-year-old self follows me around. She's single. I'm single. She's bad at math. Holy Crucifixes! I AM SO BAD AT MATH, especially dividing fractions, which Taeko is really, really bad at.
People who can divide fractions, Taeko says, seem to end up normal. People who cannot, struggle.
YES! Girl, I feel you. What else? Taeko loves farming. She's had her share of city life. Me too. Taeko's family does not understand her. My family does not understand me! Little things affect her lastingly. Really, honestly, want to understand me? Study Taeko.
That aside, what a lovely film. It's done not in a typical "anime" style but more with an eye toward realism. Only in fantasy are the characters stylized. It's a masterpiece of animation and also the kind of narrative I could imagine in live action.
Dear Hollywood, you will never make this movie as awesomely as the anime, but something in me dares you to try.
It's the kind of movie that would easily translate into a popular plot, rom/dram or com/dram: sweet, smart, single career woman going nowhere but straight to the middle, and not particularly interested in clawing her way to the top, spends a couple of weeks straightening out her city brain on an organic farm. She works through her past while falling in love with an earnest and enthusiastic farmer who only recently left the city to grow organic rice and fruit. The small community falls in love with her, too. Antics/dramas ensue.
Today someone told me that the reason it was not licensed here in the US is because it mentioned menstruation. Yup. Girls get periods, and since this is a coming of age film about a girl, that takes up a large portion of the film, and you know what: it's great. Also: Girls Get Periods!!!! Okay, cool. Now that's out there, see this film. SEE IT. SEE IT. SEE IT.