Only Yesterday DVD REVIEW
Director: Isao Takahata
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Dev Patel, Alison Fernandez
Release: 15 August
Format: DVD & Blu-ray
Age Rating: PG
Isao Takahata’s Only Yesterday is one of Studio Ghibli’s buried treasures. Originally released in 1991, the film follows office worker Taeko during Japan’s bubble economy in the early ’80s. Deciding to spend her summer away in the countryside with her relatives, she devotes her time to picking safflower, talking with her new acquaintance Toshio and reminiscing about her childhood.
The new dub features Daisy Ridley (Star Wars) in the lead role, with Dev Patel voicing Toshio and Alison Fernandez as young Taeko. It’s Ridley’s contribution which most impresses, her performance giving strength to the character, making her seem resilient despite her insecurities. Fernandez is also sweet as young Taeko. Only Patel’s lines lack emotion, making the dub seem awkward at times and losing some of the poignancy.
Despite that issue, the film still ranks as one of Ghibli’s more subtle dramas. Rather than focus on a group of people or fantastical beings, Only Yesterday isabout Taeko’s personal journey. She agonises over every detail of her fifth grade in 1966: her first crush, the time she nearly became a child actor and why the boy no-one liked refused to shake her hand on his last day at school. It features beautiful animation, bringing Yamagata prefecture to life, and its design is an effective illustration of Taeko’s faded childhood memories.
Review by Roxy Simons