Monday Melodic Musings: Only Yesterday (Omohide Poro Poro) – Theme and Variation Abe-kun

This is the inaugural post for a new post series where Anime Instrumentality staff gush or prattle over a piece of anime music. There’s no set structure or format here: it can range from a melodic dissection to random musings about the emotions flowing within the piece. Either way, we hope you enjoy this change of pace as we share our thoughts and dive more deeply into a piece than a soundtrack review would normally allow.

Theme Variation Abe-kun

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As I watched Studio Ghibli’s Only Yesterday, I found the transitions between past and present remarkably seamless as Taeko’s journey into the countryside turns into a journey of self-discovery, revealing the joys and frustrations she faced when she was younger and giving us insight into the relationship she has with her family and friends. Together, these memories make up the person she has become and the next step is for her to figure out who she wants to be.

The memories encompass a range of events: her first trip to a hot springs inn, her first experience eating pineapple, and her temper tantrum over a purse are just a few of the events shown in the movie. A childish sense of love also comes into play. The first instance of this is a fond memory; the second, not so much. “Theme Variation Abe-kun” plays in the latter scene and its poignant piano melody starts off with a sense of nostalgia before the quiet sorrow of Abe-kun’s loneliness and unrequited love for Taeko becomes apparent. In his awkwardness, he postures himself as a tough belligerent towards Taeko, sending her the wrong message and making her think Abe despised her. Taeko, for her part, is wracked with the guilt of behaving in a two-faced manner towards Abe and convinces herself that his behavior towards her was justified since he knew that she hated him the most.

When the older Taeko retells this story to her friend Toshio, Toshio makes a comment that puts this mismatch of feelings and behaviors into place, and has the effect of dissipating Taeko’s guilt. The piece responds to this dissipation with a buildup that erases the last traces of melancholia, leaving behind an aura of contentment as Taeko can finally leave this emotional burden behind and move forward with her life.

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Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

5 thoughts on “Monday Melodic Musings: Only Yesterday (Omohide Poro Poro) – Theme and Variation Abe-kun

  • February 13, 2012 at 8:20 pm
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    I don’t think I really noticed this piece before, but it’s quite lovely.

    I’m really looking forward to reading more of these! This could be a very fascinating series of articles.

    Reply
  • February 17, 2012 at 3:36 pm
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    Just wondering, are you going to review Chihayafuru’s OST? I remember reading a post that you were looking forward to it. It’s out now and it’s pretty amazing.

    Reply
  • February 18, 2012 at 4:13 am
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    Tune highlights! \o/

    >>Together, these memories make up the person she has become and the next step is for her to figure out who she wants to be.

    I like the above bit and how it figures into the piece. The beginning sort of reminds me of how Tenmon does his style of establishing poignancy too, though it comes into its own thereafter when the strings come in.

    Reply
  • February 19, 2012 at 1:14 am
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    @Kaikyaku
    Glad you enjoyed it! Definitely brought about one of the more memorable moments in the film and the line that Toshio says basically nails the experience I had back in elementary school and watching guys and girls interact!

    @thresholden
    You might see it sometime soon! Though it might not be in a form that you might expect. Stay tuned!

    @ottocycle
    Yeah, when it comes to poignancy, Tenmon knows how to play up those emotions rather well, regardless if it’s Shinkai or whatever he’s done for ef.

    Reply
  • February 27, 2012 at 4:17 am
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    One of my favourite soundtracks. Such strong themes in such gentle tones. Ultimate nostalgia in a beautiful package, for a brilliant movie. One of Ghibli’s best most assuredly. Zz, did you know there’s a full orchestral version of the original album? With longer pieces of the main theme. Well worth the get.

    http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/detailview.html?KEY=TKCA-71119

    Reply

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