Movie Review: The Studio Ghibli classic Only Yesterday finally gets a U.S. release

To get what makes Isao Takahata’s 1991 classic Only Yesterday so special, look at the pineapple scene. Based on an autobiographical manga series by author Hotaru Okamoto (with art by Yuuko Tone), the movie follows a 27-year-old Tokyo woman named Taeko, who takes a vacation in the country in 1982. Throughout the trip, she thinks back to 1966, when she was a fifth grader. In one of those memories, her family buys its first-ever fresh pineapple, and saves it for Sunday dinner, so that it’ll be more special. But the fruit isn’t as soft or sweet as the canned kind, so everyone heaves a disappointed sigh and gives their slices to Taeko, who gamely keeps eating, determined to enjoy something she’d been looking forward to all week.

Only Yesterday is animated, but rarely cartoony, in either its design or its storytelling. Most of the movie consists …

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