Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday) tells a story of a 27 year old woman, Taeko, and pieces of her childhood memories. It is produced by Hayao Miyazaki (of Laputa and Totoro fame) and directed by Isao Takahata (who also directed the stunningly powerful Grave of the Fireflies).
Unlike the "typical" anime, with mecha, dismembered bodies, and scarcely-clothed cute girls, this movie tells the story of an ordinary person. What strikes me is the realism of the story, especially the development of the character, Taeko. As the scene takes us back in time to the treasured moments of Taeko's childhood, we are reminded of our own childhood and how we viewed the wonderful world around us when we were small. I think this is the magic of this movie: it awakens that little child we have inside ourselves who we seemed to have forgotten or tried to hide all the time.
The mature Taeko is not without her charm either. Besides her love for the nature, the countryside, and the farm life, we are also shown a glimpse into her heart. Late in the story, she has to face an important choice in her life. Should she return to the city - the place where "everybody says it is good," or should she stay on the farm, which is her heart's real desire? For a while, she cannot make the choice and tries to avoid it. This part especially strikes me because her life is so similar to that of our own: we all have to make such important choices a few times in our lives, and those decisions always seem very difficult.
This movie is not without laughter either. Unlike typical comedies with the more or less artificial gags arising from weird situations, very ordinary daily occurrences are presented with genuine feelings and emotions.
I had to laugh at the pineapple and the division of fractions incidents. Especially the latter, which, in my opinion, is one of the best portrayals of the innocence of childhood in anime. (Sorry that I'm not providing more details, as that would be a spoiler.)
If you have not seen this movie before, and you think you have the heart to relate to human feelings and emotions, then I highly recommend that you borrow this tape from the CJAS lending library. As a bonus, unlike most other tapes in the lending library, the tape is in Standard Play format. Of course, you have to pay your membership fee before that. (Hey, if you have not paid your membership fee, you shouldn't be taking this newsletter!)
(Be forewarned, though, the plot in this movie is not very action-packed. Character development is the main focus. So, if you think character development movies are wimpy, then this movie will positively be your cure for insomnia. [Although if you would like to see anime background art at its finest, get this movie. The art is amazing -Ed.])