Tonight, we will be showing Omohide Poroporo (English title: Only Yesterday), created by Isao Takahata. It may be one of Studio Ghibli's lesser-known works, but it is my all-time favorite animated film.
Omohide Poroporo is an unusual film in the sense that it is different from your ordinary anime fair. It's not an animation that will transport you to a fantastical world where the main character must carry out his or her destiny (as in Laputa), nor is it a sobering tale of how mankind is destroying the environment (like in Nausicaš and Ponpoko). Instead, it uses the author's craft to take you on a reminiscent journey through the ordinary world of the main character.
Omohide Poroporo is an introspective look on life that somehow manages to take worldly characters and put them through the simple pleasures and the pains of everyday living. The story revolves around Taeko, a single woman working a desk job in Tokyo in 1982, whose love of the countryside causes her to take a vacation at the farm of her sister's in-laws. As she begins her journey to the farm, her uncertainty about her own future propels her on a journey into her past; it's a journey to help her sort out where she is headed in her life.
I wonder, maybe the reason I am remembering those days is because my period of becoming a pupa has come once again.
I know something is different now compared to several years ago when I got my job. I am changing again.
I wonder if the reason my fifth-grade self is following me is that she is trying to tell me to look back and figure out who I am.
At the farm, she meets Toshio, who unlike her, has a purpose (organic farming) and the determination to see it through. His personality is a sharp contrast to Taeko's. Unlike Toshio's life, Taeko's was never a simple matter. As the story progresses, Taeko depends on Toshio more and more to talk with, as she tries to work through her "fifth-grade self" and figure out where she is headed in life.
There is no cataclysmic event to mark the climax of the story, no catharsis, no sudden passionate expression of newly discovered love. Instead, as in real life, things change slowly, one at a time. This story broke the typical anime mold and was strong enough on its own merits to succeed wonderfully. In the end, I found myself very satisfied. I hope you will be as well.