I'd describe it as depressing. I'm having trouble describing exactly why, though. I guess it boils down to time and growing up. So many opportunities in life lost because of stupid decisions by either yourself or your parents, that devilish whimsy and selfishness that children have being inexorably snuffed out because of time's ever-accelerating course and being forced to grow up in some manner to survive, and being stuck in so many ways with your oh-so-random lot in life. The ending may have been optimistic and hopeful on the surface, but it really just reeked of the deeper, more desperate fight with life that we all undergo and try to win in a variety of ways.
I didn't really mind the contemplative bits of the adult segments, but I guess I just didn't find the ongoing story of Taeko to be very compelling. Yes, I did listen to the English dub. I tried a little of the Japanese dub, but as usual, it wasn't for me.