5. Only Yesterday
How do you create an animated film about a twenty-something woman that waxes nostalgia while on a trip to the countryside, and at the same time make it entertaining and accessible? It’s not an easy task, but Only Yesterday accomplishes it fully. Taeko, the protagonist, explains, “I didn’t intend for ten-year-old me to come on this trip, but somehow, once she showed up, she wouldn’t leave me alone.” We experience her nostalgia for and complicated feelings about the past through a family that’s genuinely flawed, while experiencing her visit to relatives in the countryside in the present, a trip that is subtly life-altering, one that pushes her to consider who she is and who she wants to be. Oh, and the film also features one of anime’s most wonderful endings, set to a cover of a now-classic love song.