Tag Archives: Josei

Adult Women as the target audience.

Nana – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Nana

 

Similar: Paradise Kiss

Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad

Kids on the Slope

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Music Comedy Drama Romance

Length: 47 episodes

 

Positives:

  • Instantly likeable characters, flaws and all.
  • Balance of comedy and drama.
  • Punishes mistakes.

Negatives:

  • Poor structuring at times interferes with the flow.
  • Doesn’t do the music element as strong as other music-centric anime.
  • The end.

(Request an anime for review here.)

A train delayed by snow brings two women called Nana together. One Nana has no goals in life other than to be independent, hopefully breaking away from her incessant need to fall in love with every guy she meets. The other Nana, fiercely independent, seeks stardom as a punk rock vocalist while burying the hurt she feels from her ex-boyfriend, who abandoned her for another band. Love is far from her mind.

To make things simpler, I will refer to one Nana as Hachiko (her nickname given in the show) and the other as Punk Nana. As always, the anime’s name is in italics – Nana.

These women present themselves as likeable characters right away, conveying their personalities in an authentic manner on the train. Hachiko’s bubbliness spills forth as she gives Punk Nana an earful on her amazing current boyfriend. Meanwhile, Punk Nana’s reserved nature and maturity billows off her like the smoke from her cigarette. The two may be opposites but she can’t help smiling at the endearing Hachiko. The first encounter between these two girls is a masterclass in giving the audience a feel for the characters in minutes.

After the opening episode, we go back several years with Hachiko to her high school life of moving from one love to the next (Punk Nana receives similar flashback treatment later). Hachiko keeps falling for one guy after another, each older than her. She gives new meaning to falling in love at first sight. Guy delivers pizza – she’s in love. Guy cooks at the restaurant – it must be love. Guy breathes – love! Get a grip, Hachiko! None of these men return her attention except for a married man a decade her senior. Like the introductions, this is another case of excellent writing, for it establishes her flaw and its resulting conflict without a drawn out explanation.

Hachiko is a stupid girl, a girl that claims independence, but is entirely dependent on others, has no skills and no direction in life. She sounds like a terrible character, so why do I like her? She is authentic and the story doesn’t let her get away with anything. Her hypocrisy about independence leads to the negative turn after act 1. Her stupidity results in…well, to avoid spoilers, let’s just say I hope none of you, dear readers, makes the same mistakes she does. Her romantic view of life and love is punched in the ovaries by reality and maturity. A craving for love or rather, what she thinks is love leads her down a path of mistakes – to put it mildly. And as any great writer will tell you, the theme for your ultimate conflict works best when you start it early, giving the conflict time to resonate throughout the story until it builds from a ripple into a tidal wave that crashes over the protagonist.

Ever wonder why a story that suddenly goes dark in the finale never feels right, even if you can’t quite put your finger on the reason? It’s because it lacks that resonance. The story didn’t foreshadow properly, obfuscating its goal for the sake of shock value. Nana doesn’t make that error. Now, it never becomes dark like those other anime, but my point is that its heavy drama never comes out of nowhere, even when it barges into what we thought was a comedy episode. When a dramatic change occurs, it feels right because Nana never lied to us. It makes sense.

The relationship pacing for both Nanas and their respective boyfriends recalls His & Her Circumstances (don’t remind me of that ending! T_T) in how well they move forward, free of artificial stalling. The story does slow when needed through effective use of internal monologue in contemplative moments, which unlike Honey and Clover doesn’t tell us how the characters feel.

Due to the strong writing and fast pace, I couldn’t stop going from one episode to the next, watching 20 in my first sitting – even the terrible idea to repeat episode 1 as episode 6 didn’t stop me. However, the second act seems to double the cast overnight and both old- and new-comers must have their dedicated arcs. Like the author’s other famous work, Paradise Kiss, this doesn’t work. Side characters are side characters for a reason. You can’t make everyone lead singer. This is especially noticeable in the third act, where seemingly everyone must wrap their respective arcs before the Nanas can take their bows. The finale feels like having to shake everyone’s hand at the end of a wedding rather than riding off to the honeymoon. Between the flashbacks, repeats, and tangents, I could make a case to remove near 10 episodes’ worth of content from the total. The worst part? A random time-skip in the final episode raises several new questions with the Nanas and gives no answers. The manga is on permanent hiatus, I understand, but one has to choose such a weak end by design.

The end is similar in unconventionality to Paradise Kiss, which I liked in that anime, but Nana doesn’t guide us to that end with the thoroughness it requires. Relegating protagonists to the sidelines before the finale is not a good idea.

My other serious complaint would be with the music side of the story. After Beck, Nodame Cantabile, and Your Lie in April had such strong understanding of music and the industry, it’s a shame to see Nana offer so little. The bands don’t have many songs, there are no standout musical performances (the aforementioned three feel like nothing but standout performances at times), the concerts lack animation, and the industry insight only meets minimum requirements for fiction. The best music is in the opening and ending credits, not within the story. The sole detail of the music plot that stood out to me was its exploration of one’s fame affecting friends and family around you. I like how some react with joy, others with jealousy.

Ultimately, the characters carry Nana, especially with many being such engaging train wrecks. You can learn many lessons on what not to do in life here, which is where great drama originates.

Art – Medium

The characters have a distinct style and their animations are expressive, but that’s really it. Everything else from environments to animation is average.

Sound – High

I listened to the OP and ED most episodes. Sadly, music within the story is nowhere near the level achieved by other music anime. The voice work is great in Japanese and English, though I preferred the latter for giving Punk Nana a raspier voice.

Story – High

A fateful encounter brings two women with the same name yet opposing personalities together as they deal with love and life in Tokyo. Nana’s strong characters, complemented by punishing drama, make this anime an engaging ride despite some excess fat in the structure.

Overall Quality – High

Recommendation: A must for fans of intense drama meets comedy. Though Nana is a great anime, its crazy drama and ditzy protagonist may make your head spin before you reach the end of its long runtime.

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Awards: (hover over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive:

Strong Lead Characters

Negative:

Weak End

Honey and Clover – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Hachimitsu to Clover

 

Related: Honey and Clover II (included in review)

Similar: Nodame Cantabile

The Pet Girl of Sakurasou

Eden of the East

Nana

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Slice of Life Comedy Drama Romance

Length: 24 episodes (season 1), 2 OVA, 12 episodes (season 2)

 

Positives:

  • The older characters and their arcs.
  • Second season.
  • Some hilarious moments.

Negatives:

  • The dull protagonist and his meandering story.
  • Minimal animation.
  • Poor exposition.
  • Unfocused structuring.

(Request an anime for review here.)

Yuuta lives the life of a harassed art student, penny-pinching like Scrooge to survive the week on bread crusts while dealing with his eccentric roommate, Shinobu. A ray of sunshine enters his life when his art teacher brings his cousin’s daughter and talented artist, Hagumi, to class. Wait, wait! Sorry, wrong anime. Honey and Clover is actually the story of Ayumi, a pottery student with her heart set on a man obsessed with the wife of a dead man. Hang on – sorry – what’s this about Shinobu’s brother and getting back their father’s company?

Honey and Clover tries to tell too many stories. As a result, this feels like two different anime mashed together without interconnecting threads that weave them together. The stories don’t affect each other. This wouldn’t be much of problem if both anime were great, but this isn’t the case. Yuuta’s piddling romance with Hagumi, an eleven-year-old we’re told is eighteen, and his later pilgrimage to Japan’s north for self-discovery – a less funny Golden Boy – is so standard, so empty that he’s barely in the second season. The production team found him so boring that he becomes an extra in his own story! He only showed up so he wouldn’t get fined.

A student who studies and then graduates isn’t an interesting story. A student who fails from laziness, gets his life in order, and then graduates is a story. A coming-of-age story should have more drastic character growth than your typical genre, for we change most when coming of age, whether it is at thirteen or thirty. Yuuta’s story is your generic graduation journey. The writer tried to shake things up with his feelings for Hagumi, but she isn’t an interesting character nor does the relationship matter much between these two, so it falls flat.

A core problem of Yuuta’s story is in how it’s told. I have heard people say that one of Honey and Clover’s greatest qualities is the inner monologues that tell us everything about what a character is thinking and feeling. Notice the key word in that sentence? Tell. These characters are telling us how they feel instead of showing us through actions. Look at it this way – if you muted the monologues, would you still see the same character information? If the answer is ‘no’ then the monologue was the writer’s crutch when lacking the talent to show this information. An angry character doesn’t tell us he’s angry – he punches something. A lonely character doesn’t tell us he’s lonely – he looks with sad envy at a happy couple. I’ll give you one guess as to who has most of his character told to us through inner monologue. Praising the monologue is like praising someone who treats you as an incompetent. The live-action series (Japanese version) does better with Yuuta.

Then we have Ayumi and her ‘love chain’ (it extends through a dozen people, at least, by the end though many of its members are for comedy). The man she loves is in a ‘friendzone’ of sorts with a widow, who is traumatised and has the scars that will forever remind her of the tragic loss. It’s pathetic to watch this man crave her, in the good narrative sort of way, as you think, “I would probably be the same in his shoes.” We see what a potion of love, lust, sadness, and loneliness looks like.

Ayumi is spectator to this display, just as pathetic as the rest of them (again, in a good way). She doesn’t have a monologue that treats the audience like idiots. More importantly, the characters in her story have complexity – I hate most of the men involved, which is great! I find their actions creepy or even despicable, but it works because I buy who they are and why they make these decisions. Honey and Clover is at its best in the second season when Ayumi’s arc reaches the climax. I wish they had made this anime as two separate stories. This would have improved Yuuta’s story as well with Ayumi no longer monopolising all the drama. As is, his conflict-light story seems to serve as a break from Ayumi’s drama more than to tell his story.

One element you should be aware of as a prospective viewer is Hagumi. There is no getting past the fact that she looks, sounds, and behaves like a little girl. Her story ends even creepier than I anticipated. (Notice how neither the Japanese nor the Taiwanese live-action versions of Honey and Clover hired a little girl to play Hagumi.) Even looking past this, her depth amounts to ‘be cute.’ That’s it.

To end on a happier note, I want to talk of the comedy. Honey and Clover is quite funny overall. Shinobu steals the comedic scenes. From his hijinks with his sculpture professor to his work with film director “Peter” Lucas, Shinobu is hilarious. To be honest, he feels like a superfluous character at first, but soon earns his place on the cast.

I debated at length on whether I like Honey and Clover or not. When I think of the Ayumi’s arc, I find myself recommending it. Then I remember Yuuta and I grimace – surely, I can’t recommend this, no? After much deliberation, I concluded that the second season made it worth my time, regardless. If I didn’t know better, I would say season two had a new author.

Art – Low

As with most slice of life anime, the budget wasn’t large. The art looks good in stills thanks to the style, but the motion is rigid and limited.

Sound – Medium

The opening songs sound like a drunk child screaming about their preschool woes during karaoke. Less obvious exposition for the sake of the audience would help this otherwise decent script.

Story – Medium

A group of artistic friends seek meaning and success in life. With too many stories to tell, Honey and Clover oscillates between interesting and bland characters, engaging you one episode and boring you the next. If it were just Ayumi’s story, I would give a high rating.

Overall Quality – Medium

Recommendation: For slice of life with romance fans. If you aren’t willing to sit through twice as many episodes as necessary, Honey and Clover isn’t worth starting. That is unless you love slice of life and can subsist on a shallow protagonist doing ordinary things.

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Awards: (hover over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive: None

Negative: None

Paradise Kiss – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Paradise Kiss

 

Related: Neighbourhood Stories (loose prequel)

Similar: Princess Jellyfish

Nana

Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Drama Romance

Length: 12 episodes

 

Positives:

  • Better second half.
  • Strong finish.
  • Perfect match of art to theme.

Negatives:

  • First act needs an overhaul.
  • Rushed in key moments.
  • Deceptive opening scenes for each episode.

(Request an anime for review here.)

You know you are in for a weird one when the anime opens to still images of the real world with an animated Godzilla wearing sunglasses in the background. Wait, no, this odd sequence and the ones for each episode have nothing to do with anything. Why start with something irrelevant and deceptive? Paradise Kiss is still on the weirder side, but this theme of starting poorly permeates the series.

Yukari is a hard-working student under pressure from her parents to be the best. She doesn’t care; she just wants to get away from it all. Opportunity strikes when some bleached guy with a safety pin for a lip piercing drags her into his fashion group. Apparently, she’d be perfect for their final project on the runway. Parental pressure and a desire for independence clash as Yukari finds her own goals in life.

Reading this start on paper, sounds solid, right? What could be wrong with it? Well, let’s go right to the first scene when she meets the blond guy. Their interaction as strangers goes beyond suspension. The idea was to show how ‘screw the social norms’ and persistent he is by having him stalk some poor girl to be his “model.” They overdid it. He’s so exuberant, so demanding that he doesn’t feel like a person. Asking a stranger on the street to be your model is beyond social norms already, especially in Japan, so there’s no need to yell it. To show his persistence, a simple forcing of his number onto her after insisting she’s the perfect model a couple of times would suffice. The version they went with is a case of trying too hard to show his character.

The same applies to meeting George, the love interest. He’s a douche from the start and has this forced confrontation with Yukari. Again, the idea was to show that he believes she should be independent and not allow her parents to dictate her life, just as his parents have no say in his life. Unfortunately, what we see is a writer who doesn’t know how to have characters with little connection clash. Once the characters have a proper connection, the confrontations are great because they have a platform to leap from. Before that, it feels like, “Er…these two need them to fight…er…let’s just have them get upset over something trivial. Next scene, I’ll get them back to normal anyway.”

The bad starts don’t end there. Yukari falls for George at near first sight, despite his douchiness. I’ve said this many times in my romance reviews, but falling for the douche is perfectly fine. However, to sustain the relationship beyond just wanting to jump his bone, you need something more. Now, – and here’s the baffling part – Paradise Kiss does give that something more, but only after they’ve moved beyond the honeymoon. Argh! It’s supposed to be the key that moves it from honeymoon to long-term relationship! Without this key, every honeymoon period ends in breakup. We see hints of this to spark the initial attraction, but it needs to escalate to become the key to long term. Damn it, Paradise Kiss, why is all your goodness in the second half without any of it present in the first half? This structuring frustrates me more than it should.

There are other such examples of ‘bad start but is much better later’ – almost every character introduction, conflict with Yukari’s mother, Yukari’s crush on a classmate, etc. – but I need to mention the good before this review is over. George’s good qualities, under the doucheterior, are great. His fashion skill is exemplary, – highly desirable to a model – he knows what to make that will please her, and he never holds her back like her mother does. He embodies the independence she craves. (Of course, we see all of this an act late!) The relationship moves at a faster than usual pace, which is refreshing in anime, and doesn’t stall through contrivances. As alluded to earlier, the second half is much better, for the story no longer needs to set up conflict or characters, leading to natural drama.

Possibly my favourite part of Paradise Kiss is the final scene, the epilogue that shows us where the characters end up. I hate to sound so childish, but it’s a very ‘grown up’ ending. It isn’t glitzy or glamorous, contrary to the fashion theme. It’s real. This ending left me satisfied despite all preceding faults and made me appreciate Paradise Kiss more over the days that followed.

As I told the dear reader that requested this review, I almost dropped Paradise Kiss. I was going to give it three episodes to grab me, which it would have failed to do. The request, however, forced me to watch to the end, for which I am glad.

Art – High

The glamorous art fits the fashion and the animation is good, but the camera really needs to back up. Just back up! There’s no need to have every shot be up the subject’s nose.

Sound – Medium

I like the OP. It’s catchy – groovy, even. Though the voice work is good, the script lacks lines to create early connections between characters, replacing them with characters stating the obvious on moral lessons.

Story – Medium

A girl with no direction save for the next exam has her life changed when an eccentric fashion group drags her into being their model for a fashion show. Starting weak and ending strong, Paradise Kiss is a bit of a mess in structure, but an interesting anime nonetheless.

Overall Quality – Medium

Recommendation: Try it. If you like fashion or stories about characters seeking independence too early in life, Paradise Kiss has you covered.

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Awards: (hover over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive: None

Negative:

Terrible Start

Nodame Cantabile – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Nodame Cantabile

 

Related: Nodame Cantabile Paris Chapter (season 2)

Nodame Cantabile Finale (season 3)

Similar: Kids on the Slope

Honey and Clover

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

Your Lie in April

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Music Slice of Life Romance Comedy Drama

Length: 23 episodes (season 1), 11 episodes (season 2), 11 episodes (season 3), 3 OVA (1 per season)

 

Positives:

  • Great setup.
  • Main couple’s chemistry.
  • Beautiful music.
  • Serious about the classical industry, even when hilarious.
  • Exemplar of the ‘slow build’ relationship.

Negatives:

  • Concerts need more animation.

(Request an anime for review here.)

There was once a time in my life when I had no interest in music. Whether it was dancing, playing, or even listening to it, there was no appeal to me (classic Disney movies were the exception ~Oh rinky, tinky tinky. Tout le monde veut devenir un cat~). Even video game music didn’t matter to me beyond the game itself. I wonder if others experienced this. It wasn’t until my mid-teens when film/TV/anime tracks started to click because of their story context. Listening to a track standalone instantly evoked the emotions I felt from the show. Now that I love music and listen to it every day, stories centred on music have newfound appeal. Nodame Cantabile has been on my list for a decade (thanks to it starring my favourite anime voice actor) and at last, I have opportunity to watch it. Do not let me down!

It took me, what, ten minutes – if that – to love Nodame Cantabile?

Chiaki is prodigy at the piano and violin with dreams of conducting, until his arrogance and a spat with his teacher gets him demoted to the delinquent class. Not all is lost, however, when he hears piano played in an untamed yet inspiring manner. He must find the player! Well, all is, in fact, lost, for the player turns out to be his neighbour Nodame, who lives like a hobo. Flies crawl inside cans, half-eaten noodle packets replace floor tiles, grunge leaks from the very walls, and a general aroma of ‘loser’ fills her apartment. Worse yet, she declares herself his girlfriend after he cleans her pigsty. He pretends not to know her in public because she’s so embarrassingly filthy.

Having seen nothing but the cover art, I expected Nodame Cantabile to be a lovey-dovey romance. I did not expect these characters. Their opposing personalities and styles – her trashy freestyle and his clean precision – create instant chemistry and had me laughing right away. Furthermore, this dynamic isn’t contrived, forced to work because the writer said so. You believe that despite her being everything his isn’t, her random play style enthrals him because it shouldn’t work, not according to his meticulous studies. Inversely, she also has much to learn from him about taking the music seriously when needed.

One of the truly remarkable qualities about Nodame Cantabile is how it succeeds at making Chiaki and Nodame’s relationship a slow build. One major irritation with anime romance is never getting the couple together until the end. Oh, we know from episode one they will be together – it’s obvious – but the same nonsense will keep resetting their progress every episode. Our eyes can only roll so much. Nodame Cantabile never resorts to the one joke or gimmick to keep you on the hook. (See B Gata H Kei for a serial offender.) When Chiaki receives an offer to conduct an orchestra in another city, of course it’s going to set back the relationship. It makes sense. Nodame has opportunity to study under a master? Naturally, it means putting the relationship aside for the time being. Their relationship progression mirrors how it would be putting career first in real life.

Though primarily focused on comedy, Nodame Cantabile knows how to tackle serious subjects such as the worry of being able to constantly one-up oneself – “Have I hit my peak already? Will I ever perform better than this? – and the difficulties of managing a global career alongside a domestic relationship. It handles these issues well in a comedic manner without undermining their severity.

The main thread of the series is Chiaki’s journey to become a conductor, which starts at the academy when he gathers an odd bunch of characters like a rock violinist and a flamboyant percussionist to form an orchestra. Despite Chiaki’s handsome features and popularity with the ladies of the group (they like the way he waves his baton), his expectations of perfection make him difficult to work with. Seki’s inner Coach Sagara emerges here. It doesn’t help that their orchestra teacher from Germany always seeks the punani, even leaving Chiaki in charge just to go on a date. Everyone thinks the teacher must be some evil twin of the real famed composer.

The second season in Paris had me in hysterics. Nodame lives next to an actual Weeaboo, who’s about to learn from her what a real otaku is like. Her freak reaction to the French greeting (kiss on the cheek) is flawless as well. (Pro tip: Don’t greet a Japanese woman that way unless you are already friends. One woman called the police on an Italian tourist for this.)

Lastly, the music itself is top notch. The pieces are indistinguishable from a concert recorded at the Sydney Opera House. It gave me shivers. I found myself leaning back and simply closing my eyes to listen. I now listen to the soundtrack when writing reviews.

Art – High

The style is a bit long in the face. When playing music, the fingers are in sync with the notes for close-ups, but often static at a distance. Good framing and visual style ease the limited technical budget. This would warrant a Medium rating; however, season two improves everything with more animation, more style, cleaner characters, and concerts receive full animation through CG. The CG only falters when focused on a single character trying to move too much.

Sound – Very High

Ma boi Tomokazu Seki! What can I say? Superb as ever, especially opposite the female lead – the Japanese track is a must for the acting chemistry between these two. When in France, hearing people speak actual French is nice. It’s a shame they had locals voiced by Japanese actors with heavy accents. Seki, who’s character is meant to be Japanese with an accent, sounds better than the French waiter who’s supposed to have no accent! They nail the classical music. Any weak music comes from several out of place OPs and EDs, though the Paris ED is beautiful – actual French singer too!

Story – Very High

A hardline classical musician and his [alleged] girlfriend pianist pursue their dreams in music. With a dynamic main couple, great cast, beautiful music, hilarity, and drama where it matters, Nodame Cantabile hits the perfect note.

Overall Quality – Very High

Recommendation: Must watch. Nodame Cantabile goes above its genres by never falling into a routine or the predictable path. Even those with no interest in classical music will find reason to love the characters.

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Awards: (hover over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive:

CharmExtensive Character DevelopmentGreat MusicHilariousStellar Voice ActingStrong Lead CharactersStrong Support Characters

Negative: None

Only Yesterday – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Omoide Poroporo

 

Similar: Millennium Princess

5 Centimetres per Second

The Ocean Waves

Whisper of the Heart

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Slice of Life Romance Drama

Length: 1 hr. 58 min. movie

 

Positives:

  • The childhood scenes.
  • Depiction of children.
  • Pleasant art and music.

Negatives:

  • The adulthood scenes.
  • Pretty boring unless you strongly relate.

(Request an anime for review here.)

Now for something a little different from the usual Studio Ghibli fantasy fare. Fourteen years delayed in receiving a Western release, Only Yesterday is a nostalgic story of a ‘typical office lady’ returning to her hometown in the Yamagata countryside, where she will rediscover herself. Familiar places bring back memories of her childhood, relating in particular to the fifth grade and her strict father.

The primary story is her adult life and romance to an old acquaintance, with the childhood advancing pieces at a time as triggers recall the next step of the story. Only Yesterday is simultaneously charming and boring. The charm oozes from the childhood story. The adulthood story, on the other hand, is dull. I wonder if they could not have found someone with a more interesting life story to tell. Genuinely, nothing remarkable happens to this woman. She goes to the country, meet an old friend, chats a bit, works on a farm, chats some more, and experiences little conflict. This would be fine if we received a character study instead of this honest, yet unengaging life. Watching this woman was like listening to a stranger on the train tell you about their life, when you are too polite to tell them to you want to sit in silence. They aren’t rude or anything – I simply wouldn’t suggest they make a film of their story.

The childhood is a different matter. It should come as no surprise that Ghibli’s superior child representation manifests beautifully in Only Yesterday. The school scenes had me smiling ear-to-ear – when someone reveals their crush on you, or when complaining about having to finish ALL your lunch (“Who drinks raw milk? Yeuch!” – little me), and that goody-two-shoes classmate we all had that wanted to introduce more rules (you know who you are).

Conflict arises through her troubles with learning maths and her abusive (in my opinion) father, who berates her without making an effort to help her. This conflict is a relatable example of how children see the world as unfair. Sometimes they are right; it is unfair, but once grown, we do also realise our parents may, perhapspossibly, you know, have been right…a little – on occasion.

It is my understanding that the childhood scenes come from the source manga, whereas the adulthood scenes are additions by Ghibli to tie the childhood together without having to detail every scene in between. I have to admire this approach. It certainly works, never feeling fragmented. If only the grown up story was more engaging. Apart from one heart-warming scene where she sees spectres of herself and classmates as children around her, it doesn’t quite have the charm to match.

If you can relate to someone travelling back through childhood, you are more likely to enjoy Only Yesterday. For better personal rediscovery movies, see Millennium Princess and Bollywood film Three Idiots (a must watch).

Art – High

High quality art and animation, but there isn’t much to see. I like the storybook watercolours used for childhood scenes.

Sound – High

Only Yesterday has a good multinational soundtrack and good acting, save for the adult protagonist’s stiff delivery in English.

Story – Medium

An office lady takes a sabbatical to the countryside, triggering a flood of memories from her childhood and questions about her path in life. Only Yesterday is a realistic and accurate portrayal of childhood and reminiscence. That doesn’t make it particularly interesting, however.

Overall Quality – Medium

Recommendation: Try it if the story sounds relatable to you. If you can’t directly relate to her journey, Only Yesterday is unlikely to elicit the emotions required to keep you engaged to the end.

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Awards: (hover over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive:

Fluid Animation

Negative: None