VOD of the week – « Drip memories » by Isao Takahata


Isao Takahata (1935 – 2018) was one of the pillars of Studio Ghibli, the production company thanks to which Japanese anime broke world records, both publicly and critically. While his partner and colleague Hayao Miyazaki remains the commercial and aesthetic locomotive of the firm, Takahata has not been unworthy with a few masterpieces such as “The Tomb of the Fireflies” or “The Tale of Princess Kaguya”. Only one of her films has never had a theatrical release, despite its immense (well-deserved) reputation: « Souvenirs Goutte-à-goutte » (1991), a little gem about the daily world of a young woman constantly assailed by childhood memories. The constant flashbacks are confusing at first because they happen without warning, so that at first you don’t really disentangle the present from the past. Then everything becomes clear: we witness the first emotions of Takeo, a slightly capricious but mischievous little girl, who will only discover her true path seventeen years later, in the part of the present, serving above all as a showcase for the past.

This vision of childhood is remarkable in that, as often in Japanese anime, there is nothing childish about it, even if it is about a ten-year-old girl. Let us mention in particular the episode where the little schoolgirls discover menstruation. Subject that no Western cartoon would dare to address in a childish context. Here it is only one element among others of a painting that is both realistic and highly stylized. Once again, Japanese cinema excels in depicting everyday life and ordinary events. This of course includes the culinary aspect – of which Japanese cinema is the champion. See the mystery and the ceremonial that surrounds the tasting of a simple pineapple, which apparently no member of the family had ever tasted. The concrete and serene vision of existence, the little intrigues between children, the family epiphanies, announce the most succinct and comical « My neighbors the Yamada », which Takahata will realize a little later. With this close and human anime, beyond his good-natured traditionalism, the filmmaker shows once again how much he knew how to transform banality into poetic deposit, better than any film in real images.


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