So for those of you who are veterans in Japanese anime and manga, this list is in no particular order, due to the fact all of these movies being entertaining and unique in their own way. I will try my best not to choose all of the Studio Ghibli movies on this post so it doesn’t become too biased.
This will be the first in a series of 5 lists of anime movies to watch out for.
Only Yesterday hails from Japan’s Studio Ghibli, the house founded by Hayao Miyazaki. But while the Oscar-winning animator is listed only as a “general producer” on this melancholy and beautiful feature, his influence resonates all through it: like many of Miyazaki’s films, the central character here is a young woman; the lure of nature, of fields and forest, is powerful, and memory plays a pivotal role.
Written and directed by Isao Takahata, Only Yesterday, adapted from a popular adult manga, nimbly toggles backward and forward in time. Taeko, a 27-year-old Tokyo office worker, is set to embark on a 10-day holiday in the country – not a peaceful, rustic idyll, but to work on a safflower farm, harvesting crops to make dye.
But all sorts of things trigger flashbacks to her “fifth-grade self” – a shy girl with a crush on a schoolmate who was a star of the baseball team. (When Taeko and the boy blush, their cheeks go all crosshatched and red.)
Conflicts with her parents, the onset of puberty, her experiences in a hot spring with her grandmother – as the grown-up Takeo takes her journey, she takes inventory of her past, too. As such, Only Yesterday is a meditation on coming of age, the ways our personalities are formed, and informed.