Blu-ray: Only Yesterday (Gkids)


Only Yesterday

English Blu-ray Title (Region A)

Only Yesterday


Japanese (2.0 Stereo), English (2.0 Stereo)

Aspect Ratio:

English, French
119 minutes
Gkids / Shout! Factory
2 (1 DVD)
1.85:1 Anamorphic


Only Yesterday



  • Menus (English)
  • Chapters (20)
  • Trailers: Only Yesterday (2 Teasers, 1 Theatrical, 1 Promo, 1 US), When Marnie Was There (English), Boy and the World, The Prophet, Song of the Sea
  • Original Japanese Storyboards (119 minutes)
  • The Making of Only Yesterday (46 minutes)
  • Behind the Scenes with the Voice Cast (8 minutes)
  • Interview with the English Dub Team (16 minutes)



By: Anthony Romero

It feels strange that it took 15 years for Only Yesterday to get an American release. Directed by renowned Isao Takahata, the movie seems like it should have come out much earlier, especially given the subject matter isn't taboo or could be considered "too Japanese". That said, it is aimed at a slightly older audience than most of the Studio Ghibli films, while lacking in action or poignancy as seen in stuff like Tombstone for Fireflies (1988). So probably more than anything else, marketability kept it off the home video market in the US. Regardless, Gkids and Universal give the movie its first release in America. This includes producing a dub for the film, as well as creating several extras. The end result is stellar, with good video and audio quality and a lot of bonus material to sift through.

As a side note, this is a dual format release containing both a Blu-ray and a DVD. This review will focus on the Blu-ray.

 Video: Star Rating

Gkids has done a solid job with the video presentation for the 1991 movie. This includes using a source that appears to be in great shape, with no overt signs of print damage aside from a very minor shake to the opening Studio Ghibli logo. Compression is also done well here, not introducing artifacts that become distracting to the viewer like pixel smearing. The only negative is that the colors are a bit muted due to the brightness level being high, especially the reds. They don't pop in the frame for the viewer. That said, the colors do fit with the dream-like structure of the movie in the way it shifts back and forth between present day and childhood.

As a side note, there are video tracks for both a "Japanese" and "English" version. These differ on the basis of the title screen and the end credits, which are replaced with English for that version. Choosing between these is as simple as going to "Setup" and selecting between the Japanese or English audio tracks.

Only Yesterday is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.


 Audio: Star Rating

There are two audio tracks found in this set, both DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo tracks. One of these is the original Japanese audio while the other is the new English dub track that was created for this release. Quality wise, both excel. Clarity in dialogue is great while there is some nice range present for a stereo track. This is particularly apparent in the bathhouse scene, with the echoes. While it does make one yearn for a surround track to really put this to use, it's still done well on this stereo offering.

The 1991 film can be accompanied by removable English or French subtitles. For English there are two versions: one that subtitles the Japanese dialogue and another that is a closed caption track for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.


 Extras: Star Rating

There is a lot of bonus content to be found on this release. While not all of it is great, as the quality suffers on one extra, there is some nice variety in what is included.

First up is the full length storyboards for the movie. These are only found on the Blu-ray, and can be played with either the Japanese or English audio and with optional subtitles or captions. Quality is good on this while it's in high definition, although the storyboards range from interesting to rather dull, with a few only having very minimal details on it.

Next up is "The Making of Only Yesterday", a 46 minute feature on the background of the production. This starts with the backdrop of talking of the impact of director Isao Takahata and producer Hayao Miyazaki on animation, with the two at "The Wonderful World of Anime" exhibit. Sadly the quality is lacking, as it appears to be sourced from a rough shaped VHS tape, presented in a 4:3 ratio, while also exhibiting aspects like banding and other digital artifacts. That said, the extra is very interesting after its slow start. It covers a lot of aspects in great detail, even down to the flowers seen in the movie in regards to the process choosing and animating them. The highlight for me, though, was the segment where Miyazaki visits the offices of Toho for a meeting. The subject? To discuss delaying the movie. It's something that resonates with anyone working an office job, but fascinating to see the revered Miyazaki negotiating with Toho brass while a photo of Toho founder Ichizo Kobayashi hangs on the wall. This extra is in Japanese with removable English subtitles.

This is followed by a "Behind the Scenes with the Voice Cast" extra. This feature is in high definition and in English, as despite what the name of the extra is, is based on the English dub track. Quality wise the feature looks and sounds good, although mostly just the crew talking about how timeless the movie is. There is a lacking behind the scenes aspect to it, with only about 3 minutes of the 8 minute extra devoted to this.

After this is a feature called "Interview with the English Dub Team", which interviews the crew behind the English dubbed version. This includes those who are lending their voice talent and those behind the microphone, so to speak. This 16 minute extra, done in English and in high definition, provides a lot more insight than the previous feature. Although it's missing the biggest star, Daisy "The Force Awakens" Ridely, it's a great extra. It covers topics like why it took so long to dub the movie, considering it's from 1991, and also the process that goes into dubbing a Japanese movie in general.

Last but not least is a collection of trailers devoted to the movie. These are in high definition and feature English subtitles for the Japanese ones and captions for the lone English one. The quality is generally good, although the second Japanese trailer, noted as "Announcement 2", has really poor audio quality sadly. This is also an issue on the "Theatrical Trailer" as well, with the audio sounding rough and lacking in clarity. On a related note, not sure on the back story behind the "Promo" trailer. This is similar to the theatrical, although burned in Japanese captions appear during certain dialogue that is muted. The audio quality for this is better than others, although oddly the video quality suffers a bit having more noise in the frame than the rest.


 Overview: Star Rating

Good video, good audio and good extras. This combined with a movie that was previously rare in the States means a release that is highly recommended to fans of Studio Ghibli and the work of director Isao Takahata. Those with even a passing interest in the movie now have a solid way to own it from this set.