Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens star Daisy Ridley has revealed her self-confessed Japanese obsession.

In between shooting The Force Awakens and its upcoming sequel, the 24-year-old has been making an English language version of Only Yesterday – a 1991 Japanese classic animation.

Along with Slumdog Millionaire actor Dev Patel, Ridley lends her voice to turn the revived version of Only Yesterday to turn the Japanese classic into a more palatable subtitle-free animation for western audiences. The pair voice lovebirds Taeko  and Toshio.

The classic was produced by Studio Ghibli, the Tokyo-based animators behind 2001’s internationally successful Spirited Away and 2004 Howl’s Moving Castle. The studio has received five Academy Award nominations.

According to the BBC, Ridley has described herself as “obsessed with Japanese culture in general”.

“My mum took me to watch Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away and I was blown away.
“I was watching one of them again recently and I thought, ‘I really want to do one of these films’. Honestly, I swear this is how it happened – Studio Ghibli were looking for the English-language Taeko at the same time, and so I ended up recording a couple of auditions. Here we are now and I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Only Yesterday is set in 1960s and 1980s Japan, where 20-something Taeko careerist takes a working holiday in the countryside, where she meets a young farmer named Toshio. Taeko has flashbacks of herself and her sisters as children. As she uncovers her past, she learns that her past self may be telling her present one to be happy.

Ridley contrasts her personal upbringing with Taeko’s as she too is one of a family of sisters.

“The family dynamic we have is very different… Myself and Taeko, we have all these things in common, but actually nothing is the same. My four sisters are absolutely, definitely my best friends, even though we squabbled when we were younger.”

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“I never even set out to do Star Wars and it’s been amazing. I am developing a sense of right and wrong when I read scripts, and I had that with Only Yesterday – that overwhelming sense of ‘I have to do this.’ My criterion now is telling stories that need to be told.”

Only Yesterday was released in the UK on 3 June.


Article photos credit: screegrabs via Youtube