Out of all the films on Ghibli’s roster, Only Yesterday is the film I was looking forward to watching the most and is the one I’ve heard the least about. After finishing the ninety-some minute drama, I think I have a better understanding as to why I haven’t heard much.
The film focuses on Taeko, a Tokyo business woman and all-around city girl in her late twenties, who decides to take a ten day trip to the countryside where her brother-in-law lives. Taeko feels no ill for city life, nor does she hold any attachment to it: at her office job she feels as though she’s just floating by. She adores the country, but she doesn’t know why.
On her journey to Takase—a small farming town in the Yamagata Prefecture—she is slowly overcome with memories of her younger self, specifically her fifth grade self. She mentions that that moment in time was a defining moment in her life, a moment where she changed from one form of herself to another. In that same vein, she feels like this trip may be another one of those points in her life.