Postechian's Pick: Only Yesterday
Postechian's Pick: Only Yesterday
  • Reporter Kim Yu-jin
  • 승인 2024.03.20 17:05
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▲Only Yesterday (1991)
▲Only Yesterday (1991)

  Growing up in the same neighborhood for as long as I can remember, every street, park, and corner holds memories of my past. My elementary school, nestled within the neighborhood, serves as a constant reminder of my childhood. It has been nearly seven years since I graduated, and while many memories have faded over time, some remain vivid to this day. Only Yesterday is an animated film that has the power to evoke these memories, no matter how distant they may seem.


  Only Yesterday follows the story of 27-year-old Taeko, a lifelong resident of Tokyo who has always admired the peaceful countryside. Taking leave for the second time, Taeko travels to her sister-in-law’s rural home in Japan. During her journey on the sleeper train, memories of her 10-year-old self begin to resurface.

  While participating in safflower picking in the countryside, Taeko discovers the joy of simple, repetitive tasks amidst nature’s tranquility and finds herself enjoying the companionship of Tashio, her brother-in-law’s second cousin. As she embarks on small adventures and reflects on her past, memories of her school days in Tokyo flood back – from her frustrations over hand-me-downs and to her unsuccessful dream as a playactor. Through this introspection, Taeko realizes how far away her present self is from her true self. With Tashio’s support, she begins to reconcile her memories with her present identity.

  As Taeko’s departure for Tokyo draws near, her in-laws propose the idea of her staying in the countryside and marrying Tashio. The film concludes with Taeko returning to Tokyo, her mind filled with conflicting emotions. In the short film after the credit, it imlpies that Taeko eventually makes up her mind and moves to the countryside with Tashio.


  Only Yesterday felt like a reunion with an old friend from my childhood. Taeko’s experiences and emotions as a 10-year-old child mirrored the feelings I felt so many times during my childhood. Whether it was the desire to fit into the majority, the need to be stubborn for no apparent reason, the sibling squabbles over sharing something, or the frustration of not being free to do what I want, each scene resonated deeply with me. I believe viewers of all ages and backgrounds will experience the same nostalgic sentiment.

  The film’s structure, constantly transitioning between Taeko’s past and present, allowed me to see myself in Taeko, an adult looking back at her childhood. The serene storytelling, devoid of villains and life-threatening dilemmas, calmed me and provided a space for introspection and contemplation of the movie’s true meanings.

  What stood out most to me was Taeko’s unwavering sense of childlike wonder, even as an adult. She still flutters at the thought of her crush almost 20 years ago, keeping her childhood memory and its feelings inside her. She still tries to understand first, rather than compromise and just do what she is told, like most adults. When Taeko is asked if she would move to the countryside, she does not readily take the offer and changes her lifestyle altogether easily, as most heroines do. She shows us an honest reaction of how we also react when faced with the choice to live the life we truly want; fear, confusion, and frustration. Taeko isn’t a flawless heroine to admire; she’s a relatable depiction of us, navigating life’s uncertainties with honesty and vulnerability.

  Only Yesterday reminded me that while my younger self may have looked up to heroes, my present self finds solace in characters like Taeko – someone who embraces their inner child and encourages me to do the same. The film reignited something within me that I had forgotten it was always there.