In the past year or so, I’ve become quite the fan of Studio Ghibli (of course, just in time for the whole thing to shutter around me), and while I recognize most fans find themselves drawn to the work of the master Hayao Miyazaki, I’m one of the people that, by and large, prefers the more grounded and darker tones of studio co-founder Isao Takahata.
His seminal work, Grave of the Fireflies, is still the most haunting animated film I’ve ever watched, and I think the recently Oscar nominated The Tale of Princess Kaguya was the studio’s finest effort since Spirited Away.
The idiosyncratic filmmaker is far less prolific than his partner, making his work far less renowned than the lauded Miya-san, particularly for US audiences. Not helping his case, beyond his own somewhat relaxed work ethic, is that one of his best productions has been unavailable stateside in any sort of DVD release.
That all changes next year though, as GKIDS announced today that they had acquired the rights for 1991’s Only Yesterday, and are planning a 2016 theatrical release nationwide (along with holding the home video rights). An English-language dub is also being produced that will star Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, Chappie), Ashley Eckstein (Star Wars Rebels) and Alison Fernandez (Orange is the New Black).
Only Yesterday is a grounded drama that focuses on a 27 year old woman named Taeko, who while on a trip out to the country to work a farm and get away from city life, she reflects on memories of herself as a schoolgirl in 1966. A wistful and touching film, this easily shoots up towards the top of my most anticipated films of next year and I can’t wait for more people to get an opportunity to see one of the great works of Eastern animation.