Well that's two lacklustre Ghibli movies under Goro's belt. On one hand I can understand Hayao supporting his son in his career, yet on the other hand this blatant form of nepotism is doing nothing but showing that the Miyazaki magic will disappear when he does.
Goro doesn't deserve to be making Ghibli movies just yet. Maybe gaining more experience doing other things would prepare him for that special of roles, but instead what we're left with is his experimentations and learning process stamped with the Ghibli logo. It's diluting the brand. His two films aren't even pandering to mainstream audiences; that’s
certainly not a complaint that can be directed at him, but his films are just directorial missteps that don't utilise the tools of animation to their best potential. It’s as if after the drubbing he got for Earthsea he thought to himself “I’ll direct a story set in 60’s Japan, the critics will like that!”
Earthsea was a disappointment on every level. There are some detractors of that opinion, but the general consensus from viewers is that Earthsea is far low on the list of Ghibli films you should watch. From Up On Poppy Hill at least has some modicum of charm and old school aesthetic about it that keeps it from being a complete failure however. The last thirty minutes are the best with more pace, urgency and melodramatic moments, but it’s a slog to get there.
The animation is not special in any way other than bringing to life 1960's Japan with typical Ghibli detail. The story is a simple coming-of-age tale that lacks any life or bite. There is a revelation that sparks things up somewhat, but even that is ultimately diffused. Hayao himself co-wrote the script with the screenwriter of Earthsea, and I like to imagine he tried to make the clubhouse scenes lively in order to bring life to the story.
The music, like everything else with this film, is inoffensive and bland. Joe Hisaishi is not in sight. There's just nothing here to latch onto and keep in your memory as something to return to. I can recall numerous scenes and musical motifs of previous Ghibli films, but from this all I will recall is the main character pulling up a flag. There are no creative scene compositions, no efficient editing tricks; no passion in the bringing of this tale. The last thirty minutes had developments that could have made a better film by themselves, in a manner similar to Grave of the Fireflies.
When Hayao made Ponyo, you could see his childlike passion for the project in the bluray extras, and you can see it in the work itself, it's bold and full of life, and contains the most amazing depiction of sea waves I've seen in animation. Goro needs to ask himself why he's a director, and for our sake he needs to find the answer on his own time, and not on Ghibli's dime.
From up on Poppy Hill, another great addition to the Ghibli Studio collection in my opinion. Let me start off by saying that what attracts me to to any work associated with Hayao Miyazaki is the element of magic, creative settings and unforgettable characters. Even Tales of EarthSea, directed by Goro Miyazaki (same director for this movie) had some of these elements...however, you wont necessarily find that when you watch From up on Poppy Hill.
The story is about family, love and determination. I found that each of these elements were strongly portrayed throughout movie by the two main characters and in the end
these elements brought the characters together. The symbolic themes such as the flags, the photographs and the club house are shown many times and tie major elements together.Though these elements make the story strong, it also makes it very melodramatic and it doesn't help that the pacing is very slow. Throughout the movie, I never felt in "awe" and there were some scenes where I felt I lost attention. There were also scenes and major themes that weren't fully developed and left me with a "there's something missing" feeling. Though the story is very melodramatic to say the least and when explaining all of the drama, I felt that they rushed the explanations and therefore made everything seem a tad unbelievable. All in all though, the story is very sweet and even with the slow pacing, it will leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling on the inside.
Everything from the scenery to the character design were impeccable. the colours were strong and like any Ghibli Production the details put into making the watchers believe that they are in the story were definitely there.
Every song and the BGM fit well with the scene and the and in movies with lots of drama where the music helps to understand the characters feelings, the music is very important. For example, the main/ending song "Summer of Goodbye" is a slow and gentle song which is kind of how the movie was. I also felt that the music did a lot to relate the time period such as the song, "I Shall Walk Looking Up" which was kind of a barber shop quartet type of song which made the story actually feel like it was taking place in the 60's.
I'm going to focus on the main characters Umi and Shun even though the other characters were important, I think these two made the movie as interesting as it was.
You can tell right off the bat that Umi is a very responsible person, she takes care of everyone in her house, all the while going to school. She also seems to be a very symbolic person as she [SPOILER ALERT] follows a the routine of bringing a glass of water and flowers to her fathers picture and raising the flag for him every morning [END SPOILER].
Shun is a rebel with a cause because from the beginning of when we meet him, he shows his daredevil (attention seeking) side by jumping from the club house. Though he wants to draw attention to his cause (preserving the club house), we know that what he really wants is the attention of one special girl.
The love between these characters is strong and innocent and it makes you think how far are you willing to compromise for the one you love.
Overall Enjoyment: 9/10
Beautiful art and music and characters, just wish the story had fewer developmental flaws. It's a definite must see because it's a lovely story...however if you are expecting magic and intrigue, don't get your hopes up.
Miyazaki Goro's sophomore attempt at directing proves that he can stand apart from his legendary father, but perhaps he is still walking in the shadow of the behemoth Studio Ghibli. Yet his recent work does not back down in its fight to earn a place in their legacy.
From Up on Poppy Hill gives us the standard we expect from a Ghibli film: beautiful art, consistent and vibrant animation complementing stories and characters with either a whole lot of heart or charm and sometimes both. But while Miyazaki makes all the right steps, he has a long way to go to give us something that is
clearly his, something that makes us say "That's a Goro film". While every Ghibli movie feels like a distinctly magical journey, this one never quite gets there. Yet where it's headed is nowhere bad at all.
Set in the post-war, pre-Olympics 1960s Japan, From Up on Poppy Hill successfully re-creates a time and place where the protagonists Umi and Shun meet and fall in love. Their hesitant romance does not come without life's complications. They meet for the first time twice; once, as Shun and Umi unknowingly communicate to one another through Umi's maritime flags, and again at school where daringly, Shun makes a bold and stupid move to save the school's clubhouse. There seems to be a shared destiny, as Shun travels on his father's tugboat every morning, seeing raised flags trying to find a lost soul, and as Umi reaches down into a pool to accept his hand as he emerges. However, they both come to learn that their paths have crossed even before their meeting. While their romance is sweet, shy at times and quiet, there is a secret between their families that forces them both to acknowledge and accept that they should not continue with one another. They cannot help but fall in love anyway.
Miyazaki portrays life's disruptions and joys with gentility. Even though the twists and turns are the subject of ridiculous soap operas, Miyazaki's respectful handling of the feelings and characters involved creates a different experience. What could be seen as trite, ends up as palpable, never overwrought drama. Although the way things neaten up happily by the end seems to be too easy a resolution. The secret involves an actually compelling issue that could have been explored further, but the safest neatest way is the route chosen.
Umi and Shun manage as likeable and sweet characters, though they don't exceed our expectations of them. The other supporting characters give life to the film and they all occupy a space that feels very much like it's theirs. Without them, there'd be no personality in the boarding house, school and town. Despite being worthwhile extras, they aren't memorable side characters (like the old woman from My Neighbour Totoro or the artist in the woods from Kiki's Delivery Service). The film resolves to let them be adequate, not exceptional.
As aforementioned, From Up on Poppy Hill has been Ghibli-stamped and approved for its visual quality. Despite having a montage sequence with still shots (which seems to be very much contrary to Studio Ghibli's reputation for painstaking detail and excellence), the entire film looks spectacular.While it does not boast the stunning scope of the Ghibli epics or the fantastical vision of the others or even the technical genius, it has the quiet, solid sensibilities of movies like Whisper of the Heart and Only Yesterday. In fact, this film might take you right back to Whisper of the Heart, Kondou Yoshifumi's great masterpiece. (Although Umi and Shun's romance does not hit the highs of Shizuku and Seiji's; perhaps due to Shizuku being such a strong, charismatic and compelling protagonist, while Umi is less powerful and effective as a lead). We remember from Only Yesterday the stagnant beautiful countryside, we remember from Whisper of the Heart the urban sprawl of a modern city, and in From Up on Poppy Hill, we find a Yokohama and its beautiful seaside in the midst of industrial growth and change.
The one place where From Up on Poppy Hill disappoints is its music. Ghibli films tend to boast timelessly powerful scores and soundtracks. The music here tries to invoke a sense of place and time. While this works marvelously in some cases (for instance, the use of Sakamoto Kyu's eternally lovely classic "Ue o Muite Arukou"), it misses in many others. Some tracks just seem to undo the overall atmosphere and the results are noticeable.
Miyazaki's vision is much more focussed for this film as compared to Tales from Earthsea, a project that from even its conception was problematic. From Up on Poppy Hill is more relaxed in tone, and perhaps this was Miyazaki's own stance to his film-making. What I said earlier about the characters can perhaps be said about the film itself: it is adequate, though not exceptional.
From Up on Poppy Hill is a definite must-watch for those disappointed with Miyazaki Goro. The film shows how much he has grown as a filmmaker. This is a satisfying little movie. Maybe his next attempt will give us something a bit more fulfilling. Certainly this taste has left us hungering for more from this director. You're certainly not going to watch this film condemning it for not being like his father's art and you won't watch it and think it's like his father's work either. It doesn't feel like a Hayao film or a Takahata film. It's not trying to be. Goro and Yonebayashi (director of Arrietty) have their work cut out for them to leave their signatures on their movies, but given time, perhaps their vision will become clearer.
In the meantime, Miyazaki Goro shall walk looking up.
When people hear the words 'Studio Ghibli,' many have come to expect a masterpiece. This is both a blessing and a curse; whilst this does mean that more people watch these (usually pretty amazing) films, it also means that people can mistake 'imperfect' for 'bad.'
I can't speak for everyone, but I actually really enjoyed From Up on Poppy Hill. The characters were likeable - not particularly in-depth or rich, but likeable - and the quirky supporting cast were always there to pick up any slack. In fact, I would say that the supporting cast is one of my favourites from a Ghibli film so
far, beautifully designed and entertaining to watch.
The story was engaging, too: a simple teenage romance with a couple of surprising plot twists and an ultimately uplifting result. It may not have been full of drama and suspense, but the film had that wonderful Ghibli charm to it, reminding me of some of their other simpler works: Only Yesterday and Whisper of the Heart (the latter being a personal all-time favourite).
Whilst the plot may have been slow-moving, a faster one wasn't really required. The world of the story was, as always, built beautifully, and it was a pleasure to watch events unfold even when they were unfolding quite cautiously. This, of course, was because of the astounding artwork, backgrounds and animation more than anything. There's not really anything more to say on this, it's just beautiful.
The music also deserves a mention. The opening and closing songs were lovely, very fitting and atmospheric, and whilst I can't really pinpoint a specific part of the background OST that I enjoyed, I can safely say that it always suited the scene it was played against, whether or not it was anything particularly special.
I was also pleasantly surprised at how good the English dubbed voice acting was, for the most part. (I can't comment on the original Japanese as I didn't watch it).
So, to summarise; this film isn't for everyone. It doesn't have a very describable plot, nor does it have any particular deep characterisation or meaning (unless I was missing something). It's comparable to a nice soup in winter; it might not be the most exciting or substantial thing ever, but it's comforting and sympathetic and it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Unless, of course, you don't like soup. But anyway, you get my point.
It's not the best work ever to come from Ghibli, but it's still a lovely film, it has an irresistible charm and it's definitely worth a watch.
Kokurikozaka Kara is not only Studio Ghibli's newest film. It is, in my opinion, the worst film they have made so far.
Our story begins with Komatsuzaki Umi, a girl living in a coastal town in 1960s Japan. Every morning, she rises a pair of flags which can be seen from the sea. Without spoiling anything, I must admit the reason why she does it is pretty tear-jerking.
What isn't tear-jerking, however, is the story in general. I've never seen such a horribly put-together story. The characters are absolutely forgettable, and the script is horrendous. I was shocked when I realised how many inconcistencies and plotholes plague
this film. There is a moment in the film in which a main character, after a very important confession, says the following: "I know this sounds like a bad melodrama". I couldn't keep myself from laughing. This is the first time I've seen a movie condemn itself through dialogue. All this to say that, from a purely narrative point of view, this film is a disaster.
However, as with every Studio Ghibli film, the art is beautiful. The backgrounds are masterfully drawn, and the animation is proof that Ghibli is unmatched in that aspect. Character design was alright except that sometimes the characters are very mannequin-like in their facial expressions. The soundtrack also shines thanks to amazing songs which are delightful to the ear.
Furthermore, I must confess that I was very disappointed with this film not only because of its dreadfully executed story, but also because it is very boring. My enjoyment for this film progressively reduced to zero as I kept realising how uninteresting the characters were. I didn't care for them because they didn't have any redeeming features. They were just cardboard cut-outs made to go along with the story and that's what kills this movie. The story is not presented to the viewer, it is just shown. Its very artificial since things just happen like that without no reason. It is like all the film's universe revolved around the story. The result is pretty shattering. Story progression should feel natural, even if the pace is all over the place. And that is Goro Miyasazaki's film largest sin: it let its mediocre story take control of the film.
In conclusion, I definitely do not recommend this film. I do, however, recommend it to future film-makers as a counter-example as it will allow them to see what they must avoid in order to produce good stories. If you can get past its story's fatal flaws, then you will definitely find some enjoyment with this film as there is plenty to be had. I know that I couldn't look past them.
Well, we began Studio Ghibli month with their first film and now, as it draws to a close, let's take a look at one of their most recent films. From up on Poppy Hill was written by Miyazaki Hayao and Niwa Keiko with direction by Miyazaki Goro... Wait, the same director as Studio Ghibli's only bad film, Tales from Earthsea? In fact, Niwa Keiko was partially responsible for writing that travesty too... Maybe they won't completely fail this time? I mean, Miyazaki Hayao is involved in this one and he does have a history of making films that are, at the very least, decent.
Let's take a look and see what happened with this one.
Our story is about a teenage girl named Umi and a teenage boy named Shun. They meet when Shun does a stupid publicity stunt to try and save the school's club building from being torn down in favour of a new one. That's pretty much it. The film is a tweenage romance with a sideplot about saving a building. About the most exciting thing you get are the cleaning montages just because something is actually happening. This film is just dull and tedious. They try to inject some tension with a plot line that interferes with Shun and Umi's relationship, but the resolution is really obvious within thirty seconds of it being brought up. The predictability of the film is a big part of the problem. There's no real investment because you know how everything is going to turn out. It may surprise you if you've never seen, read or heard the basic plot of a teenage romance. In which case, welcome to Earth. Flee before we take your beloved classics and make so many bad remakes, adaptations and sequels that you always have to make exceptions when expressing your love for them. “I love X... except for the horrendously bad BBC show written by Moffat, the American show that tried to copy it with slightly less crap results, any Hollywood film version, that stupid cartoon where the main character comes out of suspended animation in the far future and that idiotic anime where the protagonist is a dog for some reason.” The romance is just trite and stale. The characters have no real chemistry. They spend roughly ten minutes of screen time together before just deciding they like each other because the plot says so.
I'd say that the main characters have the personalities of twigs, but twigs are more interesting and are part of a greater whole. They're more like grains of sand, relatively shapeless and insignificant. They aren't remotely interesting nor do they have depth. The side characters aren't any better. The major ones being the people from various clubs who are defined by the stereotypes associated with people in that type of club.
The art is gorgeous, just like every Ghibli film. It's not so good that it's worth sitting through an hour and a half of complete and utter nothing but it's really nice and vibrant.
It's difficult to say how good the cast is. They aren't really required to do much acting since the characters are so flat. The music is nice and soothing which, when combined with the lack of anything interesting happening, makes it really difficult to stay awake during this film. So, it might make a good cure for Insomnia.
This has no ho-yay.
From up on Poppy Hill is really boring. Nothing happens that's even adjacent to interesting. It's dull, it drags, it's predictable and trite. Even if it does have gorgeous art and some nice music, I can't recommend sitting through it. At least it's not as bad as Tales from Earthsea. Final rating: 4/10. Well, Ghibli month ended on a bit of a low note. The request queue going into February is Battle Athletes Daiundoukai, Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu, Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge, Shinsekai Yori, One Outs, and Doki Doki Precure. Next week we begin with Battle Athletes.
From up on Poppy Hill is an anime which I think deserved much more than how it was perceived by the audience. For me, it was one of the best films I ever watched as a Ghibli Film. I always waited for the day that a school anime would be released by Studio Ghibli! And they've done it by making this beautiful and heart-warming one.
The film has a quote which is my favorite one from all Ghibli Films:
"Destroy the old and you destroy you own memory of the past. Don't you care about the
people who lived and died before us? There's no future for the people who worship the future and forget the past." - Shun Kazama
The film strongly centers around the theme of the willingness to live on, family and change. Japan is entering a new era, along with the start of the Olympics in 1964 and the Korean War which affected the country both directly and indirectly.
This "change" is also shown more closely to the main characters as their high school's old building is due to be destroyed and replaced. I was really impressed with the way this film conveyed Umi's development of her feelings towards Shun in the midst of the refurbishment of the "Quartier Latin".
Umi has lost her father in the Korean War, and Shun has lost his in the same war. This affects them hugely psychologically and will remain in their minds forever. However, their reason to live on is something both fathers would have wanted from their children if they died. This is why they have to stick together with the rest of their family and live on happily. The way Umi put the flags up everyday which translates to "I pray for safe voyages" just to remember her father was so touching. It was the second most interesting part of the film for me after the Umi's relationship with Shun. the scene really hit me with the feels...
And there you have it, a film in which you're 60% likely to cry at the end (or towards the end). This is not guaranteed since everyone has different tastes.
I think the word "Ghibli" explains it. The art is extremely good: it's something that goes deep in your hearts and shows small details that you don't see in other films. Those details on every single object that is shown throughout the film is what brings it to life.
Alright I've got a lot of things to say about the music: EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF MUSIC in the film is perfect and is my favorite of all Ghibli films. But it just doesn't get much attention! I hope that it does after people read my review... Please, you must listen to it! Honestly it is the best soundtrack I've listened to in my life. It fits so well with the time where the music is set and adds A LOT to the atmosphere of the film!!!
I've listened to the music again and again, by now it's must be over 1000 times by now... The jazz piano is so catchy, especially in the "Breakfast Song"... But on the other side it also shows some sinister pieces of piano, which I also loved. The best pieces that I would choose are "Heart of a Mother", "Reminiscence", "Summer of Goodbye" and "Signal Flag". look them up on YouTube and you'll see how amazing the music is!!!! If you have the time, just listen to the full OST!!
Umi is a girl who hides her struggles to anyone except when it goes beyond what she can control. She does most of the daily chores in the house, since everyone else is busy. She is a very responsible and kind person who does everything she can to help Shun and the school to prevent the destruction of the "Quartier Latin".
Shun has a leader's personality, and a lot of people follow him in school, which is why he is a so popular. But when he finds a secret that was hidden between him and Umi, he starts avoiding her... Although he may be courageous, he doesn't want to hurt someone with a secret that would shock them. That's what I like about him, along with his philosophy of the importance of the past.
The character development was pretty good for me, but the reason i didn't give a 10 was because I thought the movie didn't concentrate enough on the relationship between Umi and Shun... I guess I'm being a bit too greedy there...
I fully enjoyed this film, and I would recommend this to anyone who hasn't seen Ghibli's masterpieces. Or anyone who has. This film is different from the other ones (well, all films are) and I guarantee you you will enjoy it if you like school anime with romance!
Of course it's a 10... Every single aspect of the movie was outstanding. I don't know any other way you could describe a masterpiece here.
I have some things to say about the criticism that the director was given: every single director is unique. Just because Goro is the son of Hayao Miyazaki doesn't mean that he thinks exactly the same way as his father. Obviously there are similarities but there are differences too. You must acknowledge that.
Ghibli films have a certain level of expectation whenever they release a film. Sometimes this is achieved and sometimes it's not. People should stop thinking that Ghibli should always stay the same, because change will always have to come at some point. Hayao Miyazaki's not going to make films forever. That's why... Goro Miyazaki is a great director on his own. Bare in mind that this is just his second film... (and this is more than excellent) I wish people aren't too harsh on him. He has his own views and I'm sure he will improve as the years go by. And by then, he will become even better than before!
I decided to end my review with the short poem that Shun Kazama wrote on the newspaper:
Fair girl, why do you send your thoughts to the sky?
The wind carries them aloft to mingle with the crows.
Trimmed with blue, your flags fly again today.
Thanks for reading and I hope that my review was helpful!
Hmmmm....again, it doesn't make sense. I tend to open with this line a lot.
Let's try a catchier opening line: this movie approached the characters and plot almost existentially (and yes, like borrowing the ideas of existentialism).
This is clearly one of my favorites from Studio Ghibli. Perhaps I have a bad way of judging things, or I'm just seeing things differently from how most people see them, because I do not think this movie has any execution flaw. Yes, yes, I like Goro's father's works, but not all of them. As for Goro's,I don't remember Earthsea much, but I remember other studio ghibli
films pretty well.
From my perspective, what makes studio ghibli's films stand out is their superb execution. Their films have down to earth stories and characters and some magical fantasy elements here and there, which makes things more enjoyable. However, I do not think what makes Totoro good is the setting and the naivety, or innocence if you prefer. I will ignore the animation and music and just talk about the plot and characters because I have no complaints on the quality of the studio's animation and sound. Since the plot and characters are nothing special and mostly kids, it's the way that the stories are told that, for me, determines the quality of most of their movies.
Let's see, what's wrong with this movie's execution again? Boys and Girls, please enlighten me on why it's poorly executed (if you know what you are talking about that is). Yes, yes, it's boring and not compelling enough. What else? The characters and setting aren't interesting enough for you?
Sorry to break it to you, but this movie isn't meant to be magical or emotional. If it moves you, it only means you are more sensitive than most people. If it doesn't move you, no worries, it doesn't have to move you because it's not intended to.
However, having a “nothing special” setting, theme, characters, and plot, there is still a way to reach somewhere. After all, what is fulfillment? The more extravagant things you have, the less fulfilling their after effects are. Every magic will wear off, and every kind of innocence will turn into naivety one day. I don't mind if you want to at least capture that one frame of innocence and magic on film, but this movie isn't intended to do that. Fulfillment is reached through subtraction, not addition. This movie scraped things to a bare minimum. When you reach the minimum point of having things and people simply existing, without trying to be anything or being labeled to be anything, you'll have found an existential starting place to reach somewhere. Similarly, this movie's intention is, the characters and plot have no need to be something. They are what they are by simply existing, and people are meaningful in themselves by being who they are. The movie stayed true to its intentions pretty well,
I know, I skipped on the whole reasoning on why this movie is flawlessly executed. But I guess by having this existential approach, it really cannot be wrongfully executed unless the characters or the plot tries to be anything it is not. If this is not a satisfactory explanation, then if you can tell me where it's badly executed without changing the intention behind this movie, then I'll consider my belief unsound. It'll be really hard though, because existentialists can argue their ways around things pretty well.
I like this movie for what it is. I see how it's intended, so I have no complaints on how it's played out.
Deep inside, I even believe Goro's work is beginning to surpass his father's.
Studio Ghibli will always be one of the most highly regarded and the most critically acclaimed animation studios in the world. Such is their success that almost every film they have produced has been something great, and many of them masterpieces. There are so many things they do well- their animation is fantastic, the characters are memorable, the stories are great. They seem to do everything fantastically well. However there is one thing which has always bothered me slightly about Studio Ghibli; almost every film (with perhaps one exception) they've produced has been made primarily for children. Now there is nothing wrong with making
a children's movie. Even if titles like Whisper of the Heart and My Neighbour Totoro are intended for younger viewers, there is plenty within those movies for adults to appreciate and the elements of children’s films that can make them unbearable for grown-ups are not present. Do not get me wrong, they are great films.
But when you produce a film for children you put yourself under certain limitations. The most obvious is that you can no longer depict graphic scenarios in your work. That's not a big deal- there are plenty of anime out there with sex and violence in spades. But there are more subtle things too- for example it is difficult to include political intrigue in a film intended for children. There are elements of that in the more 'environmentalist' Ghibli productions like Princess Mononoke, but it had to be simplified to a child's level- it was very partisan depiction of the conflict between environmentalism and capitalism and utterly devoid of subtlety. It leaves an adult audience wanting for intellectual stimulation. Another feature of most of the Ghibli movies to date, which is a common problem among children's films, is the tendency to depict the nuclear family, living without strife. My Neighbour Totoro didn't include a mother figure yet it still felt squeaky clean. Most children fortunately don't know much different, but as one grows older the more and more aware you become of how untenable this notion is and that many people do not have such positive experiences in childhood.
Which brings me to this latest Studio Ghibli production, Kokurikozaka kara. While by no means perfect, it does ease some of the qualms one might have about the studio and proves definitively that Goro Mayazaki, whatever he may be, is not content with being a mere imitation of his father. Let us begin with an examination of the setting: 1960s Japan, amid a great deal of political upheaval and dramatic changes to the Japanese economy. Only Yesterday was partially set in this timeframe but the portrayal could not be more different, as it was concerned more with childhood at the time and paid little attention to wider society at the time beyond the occasional culture reference. In contrast, they are the very essence of ‘From Up On Poppy Hill’ and are part of both its aesthetic and its plot. It does not deal with any specific political ideologies or groups from that time but does capture the revolutionary atmosphere for which the Nineteen Sixties are notorious.
While there are a few things which are different from the other Studio Ghibli movies, there is much that is familiar too. Many of these are quite positive: the retention of the strong independent young female lead character for example is a refreshing change from most cinema, even if most other Studio Ghibli movies also feature such a character. In this case her name is Umi, and she lost her father in the Second World War. The film begins with her doing a lot of housework in the morning before making her way to school. While there she catches sight of some revolutionary activity involving the school clubhouse, which is to be demolished in the near future, despite the protests of many of the male students. This kick starts an active campaign to save the clubhouse which unites students of both genders for a common cause. At the same time a romantic relationship develops between Umi and Shun Kazama, one of the student revolutionaries.
The romance storyline is unfortunately a tad lacklustre. It is functional, and does not damage the rest of the film, but there is nothing about it which is particularly interesting or unique. The relationship between Umi and Shun faces a few difficulties but the outcomes are usually quite predictable. Of slightly more interest is the efforts of the student body to keep the club house open, but again this is a rather simple plot structure with a rather predictable outcome. What makes the film special though is the social commentary which is running constantly in the subtext. Class conflict, gender roles, Post-war guilt, economic changes... all of these compelling issues are brought up frequently in the film and serve to give it the substance worthy of the Studio Ghibli name.
Of course Studio Ghibli are as famous for their animation and artwork as they are for their great storylines, and in this regard ‘From Up on Poppy Hill’ is up there with any other Ghibli movie. The animations are smooth, the character designs are endearingly familiar and the backgrounds are awe inspiringly beautiful.
Much as one liked this film, ultimately, it has to be conceded that is not quite up to the standard of the Ghibli filmography. It represents a change in direction for them, but the product is not of equal value. However, I am contented with this. Because a change of direction means there is hope for the future of Studio Ghibli. While it will be an uncomfortable change for many who have fond memories of their previous works, it is a change which is unavoidable. Great directors like Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata are, alas, only mortals. New and different directions should be a welcome change when one considers the alternative, which is that Studio Ghibli rest on their laurels and attempt to reproduce the same films which first brought them success. It will only lead to saccharine rubbish, which is little more than bastardisations of My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away. All that was magical about them will be washed away in a mess of executive board meetings and marketing stunts.
Ask yourself, is that the future of Studio Ghibli that you really want?
From Up on Poppy Hill is a deceptively difficult film to wrap your head around, for a story and production that appear so plain and homespun on the surface. A combined directorial effort by Hayao Miyazaki and his son Goro, the end result ends up feeling more like an Isao Takahata interpretation of your average slice-of-life anime. On the one hand, it’s easily the least ambitious film in the Ghibli oeuvre, but on the other, there’s a lot more going on in the subtext and theming than is immediately apparent. It’s kind of dull, but also kind of interesting, kind of underwhelming but also rather
engrossing once it gets going, simultaneously coming off as both a half-measure and an overachiever. It’s the kind of film where I feel like I’d need another spin at it to really process what it’s trying to say and figure out how well it all holds together, so perhaps my opinion will shift when I return to it at some point in the future. Thankfully, I can at least say that I look forward to that point when it arrives, because Poppy Hill is engaging enough on its own merits to justify that continued attention.
Set in 1960s Japan, in a country finally starting to really shake the scars of WW2 off and come into its own, the story follows high school girl Umi as she becomes embroiled in the exploits of the Latin Quarter, a catch-all antique mansion of a campus building that houses all the nerdy clubs, from astronomy to philosophy to chemistry. The building is old and decrepit and on the verge of being torn down, but the geeks who call it home place a lot of value in its history and are mounting a massive attempt to stop the school’s upcoming decision to bulldoze it. Umi and her friends end up joining the effort, and from there the plot progresses pretty much as you’d expect. There’s triumphs and effort, lessons learned and struggles overcome, a budding romance with a late-stage plot twist that even one of the characters acknowledges as feeling like “something out of a cheap melodrama”, and the story overall takes pretty much every well-worn track stories of this nature tend to take. I describe it as feeling like your average slice-of-life anime because I could very easily see this premise be expanded out into a 12-episode season, where we get to spend more time meeting the many quirky characters of the Latin Quarter and all their eclectic interests, engaging in K-On patented high school hangout sessions along the way. The whole film carries that kind of easy charm with it, eschewing Ghibli’s more ambitious tendencies in favor of a simple, down-to-earth story will no real surprises along the way.
And honestly, I don’t think that’s entirely to its benefit. I appreciate a good slice-of-life anime as much as the next person, but there’s a certain blandness to this world that’s hard to shake. It takes a good fifteen minutes for the film to really get moving, setting up Umi’s home life and struggles in ways that aren’t really interesting, before it shows its first spark of life in a fun montage of her and her friends first moving through the Latin Quarter and being treated to a sideshow of the colorful personalities who call it home. And even then, as fun and charmingly breezy as these characters all are, I was constantly left feeling like we could be doing more with them. I value Ghibli’s ambition highly because the experiences that ambition leads to are some of the most raw, stunning experiences anime has to offer, executed by the most imaginative minds and the most talented artisans of the craft. Poppy Hill, in contrast, often struggles to have much of an identity at all, and I wonder whether it would have worked better as a full show that could give more room to explore the unique eccentricities of the Latin Quarter and its students. It’s not really bad, it just feels kind of flat and dull at times. And that’s one crime I’ve never been able to accuse Ghibli of in the past.
However, there’s another element to Poppy Hill that makes my understanding of it even more complex. You see, I didn’t just mention the particulars of the setting two paragraphs ago as flavor text; Japanese culture and history is a constant, tangible presence in every single conflict throughout the movie. The fight for the clubhouse is explicitly framed in a rowdy student debate as a clash between the old, stuffy ideals of the past Empire and the new, callous ideas represented by the budding democracy, the decision over how much of the past it’s worth letting go and how much is worth carrying into the future. Umi’s father was killed in the Korean War, and she still raises signal flags every day in some vain hope that he might see them and come wandering through the front door. The complication that befalls the central relationship, without spoiling anything, is directly tied into this history of war, how it left scars on an entire generation that are still healing even in the brightness of the present. It’s a film about normalcy, but that normalcy doesn’t exist in isolation; it’s constantly contrasted with the horrors and pain of a world this new generation of Japanese kids will only ever know from history books and their elders’ stories. And all throughout, it asks what the measure of that past is, what it should be, and what Japan should become going forward.
It’s that central question that makes it difficult for me to fully pin down my feelings regarding Poppy Hill, because it’s not the kind of idea the film expects you to easily digest. It hangs in the shadowy fog of the background and often intrudes into the text as well, but the ultimate resolutions are rather open-ended, and it isn’t always clear how heavy that specter is hanging over any particular moment. I compare it to Isao Takahata because much like that director’s works, it’s a film that requires you to ask your own questions and come to your own conclusions along the way. But considering that it still carries the soft, warm aesthetic of Miyazaki’s handiwork and craft, that dichotomy makes for an interesting contrast that I’m not quite sure I’ve solved yet. Is the film stronger for relying so heavily on the normalcy of its presentation to highlight the horrors of what it was birthed from, or is it just too boring for its own good? Are the complex questions of heritage and history highlighted or diminished by the movie’s overall simple presentation? Whatever the case may be, it presents an interesting quandary, and I suspect that I’ll be puzzling over it for a while after I finish this post. Perhaps my opinion will shift so drastically in reconsideration that I’ll be forced to junk this whole review and start over from scratch.
Still, if this is to be the plainest Ghibli film ever made, at least it carries the promise that even the studio’s least inspired output still carries enough intrigue to make it worth further consideration. From Up on Poppy Hill isn’t a very special film, but it’s enjoyable enough, with enough good charm and likable personality to justify its existence while you mull its more complex questions over.
From Up on Poppy Hill was directed by Goro Miyazaki, Hayao Miyazaki's son. I was pretty interested to see how much of Hayao's legacy he could carry on. This movie looked very promising, but it was simple. The outcome wasn't exactly what I expected, and this goes as a bad and good way.
The main plot for this movie is about two students: Shun and Umi. They have a story of family, love, and willpower that is so simple yet so sweet. To be quite honest, that's the word that really describes this movie the best: simple. Unlike past Ghibli movies, From Up
on Poppy Hill does not have magical, supernatural creatures or beautiful dream-like lands. In fact, it takes place in 1960's Japan. The movie attempts a historical feel, which is a risk since it may sway the interest of their popular audiences of children and teenagers. But, perhaps it was the simplicity of the movie that made it so likable. The whole plot wasn't exactly exciting, but it was well done enough to keep me intrigued. The relationship between Shun and Umi and their relationship problems because of possible family issues is a mild story but it still creates a sweet innocence. Extremely simple, but the best kind of simple.
Ghibli animation has always been beautiful and From Up on Poppy Hill is definitely not an exception. The backdrops are extremely detailed with even the smallest, most colorful brushstrokes on the least important settings. Everything was breathtaking, and while the character design was rather plain, it still completely captivated me. The quality was not underdone at any point in the movie and everything still retained some sense of realistic-ness. This aspect of Ghibli films will, in my opinion, never change.
Comparing past Ghibli soundtracks such as Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, and My Neighbor Totoro to this movie makes From Up on Poppy Hill's original soundtrack seem so... plain. Joe Hisaishi did not create any original scores in this movie, so the music didn't really make of an impact on me. However, even if wasn't as good as usual, the soundtrack was still pretty swell. Finely orchestrated music fit the era and settings nicely for a 1960-themed movie. The voice actors did pretty well; they made each character's emotions seem realistic enough.
Shun and Umi make up the most important characters of the movie, so their roles will be focused on the most. Umi's character is very realistic and human. She's a hard-working, responsible young woman who still copes with normal teenage issues like school and love. Her family past of her father contributes to her personality and makes her seem not as perfect, rounding her out nicely. Shun is at first shown to be a bit rash but later on is shown to be intelligent and caring. While they aren't the most interesting people in the world, both of these characters have an impact on each other, which entertained me and further built upon the plot.
Despite being plain and simple, From Up on Poppy Hill still interested me enough to keep watching and feel a sense of positivity. It was quite honestly a refreshing change from the usual exciting, magical Ghibli movie. But, parts of it still bored me and the ending made me upset and confused.
Goro Miyazaki is continually working hard to live up to the legacy of animation that his father created. While From Up on Poppy Hill shows that he's yet to reach that point, it also shows that he's getting closer. The movie's simplicity and innocence sent out a calmer vibe and perhaps that's what the man is aiming at. I wouldn't put this in my top anime movie groups, but I wouldn't put in my worst either. It's an average movie and the work of a growing man. That's all it is to me.
This is one of the tamest Ghibli movies that is more slice-of-life than anything. This movie has an interesting concept, but not a very unique one, as forbidden love between two main characters has been done many times before. The ending feels incomplete as well, leaving us with desire to see what happened next, but in a bad way.
While this movie does have beautiful Ghibli animation, it feels like they held back a bit. Nothing is visually mind-blowing like in other titles. This may be in part because of its slice-of-life nature, but even so, it doesn't quite meet the expectations of a
movie produced by this company.
The voice actors were great and sound effects as well, not much to complain about regarding this section. For a dub, it was done rather well, like most other Ghibli films.
Character development in this title is good when it occurs, but compared to other Ghibli films, it lacks in any unforgettable character roles, and in turn hurts the film immensely.
Though it's lackluster for a Ghibli movie, as a stand-alone film, it is pretty well done and won't be a negative experience for you. Though if you are to watch only one or a few movies from the Ghibli library, don't include this one.
If nothing else Goro Miyazaki’s sophomore directorial effort, From Up on Poppy Hill (or Kokurikozaka kara) is an improvement from his less-than-impressive debut work, Tales of Earthsea. It’s a much smaller, more modest movie with a simple story, but a better fit for the unseasoned director. It’s a comfortable viewing experience, a gentle coming-of-age story that also works well as a period-piece of early-1960s Japan. It’s a story about looking optimistically towards the future, while remembering to pay homage to the past. Yet, with this said, the movie still feels like it is lacking something, a certain uncategorized magic that flows through Miyazaki Senior’s movies.
Something that Goro Miyazaki is able to tap into in this movie, but never fully grasps.
Set just before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, a time when Japan was determined to get a new start and leave the devastation following WWII behind them, From Up on Poppy Hill follows Umi Matsuzaki, the daughter of a sailor who died in the Korean War. Umi is a responsible young lady who not only is active in school, but does more than her fair share of the work maintaining the boarding house she lives in. She misses her father dearly, and raises flags every day in memory of him. In school, she meets a boy from the school newspaper named Shun Kazama, and through him gets involved in the effort to save an old building called the Latin Quarter, which houses all of the schools clubs, from being torn down to make room for a new building. As Umi becomes more and more involved with the effort to preserve the old building, a young romance blossoms between her and Shun. However, the uncovering of a link in their past complicates their relationship.
A mentioned earlier, From Up on Poppy Hill is at heart a modest story which rides mostly on its sentimentality. Luckily, it is quite good at building sentiment. Umi is an admirable heroine who is identifiable enough as a teenage girl that she doesn’t come off as a complete Mary Sue, though she does come dangerously close at times. Likewise, Shun is almost a Gary Stu, but is just enough of a teenage boy to be relatable. Of course, it is the movie’s light tone and optimism which makes such amiability common place; all the characters in this movie are good people trying to do their best. Honestly, it is rather refreshing, especially in face of the cynical fetishism or dower post-modernism that is elemental in many modern anime. Even when the movie’s tone is at its lowest, the feeling that things will get better and work out in the end remains.
It’s this old-fashioned idealism that gives the movie its spark of life. As we view this movie, we get to see the hopes and dreams of a few become the hopes and dreams of many. We see young people pour their passion into something, and have their effort be rewarded, in a country that is working to redefine its identity. Along with all this good will for the future, there also comes a respect for the past. The students’ endeavor to save the old Latin Quarter building is indicative of the movie’s message of honoring those who came before, even while progressing forward into the future.
However, for all the movie’s optimism and good will, it has a distinct lack of bite. There is never a sense of urgency in this movie, no devastating twist which makes it emotionally or thematically arresting. Make no mistake, there is a major plot twist which does test both Umi and Shun emotionally, but it is a bit too contrived to truly resonate with the audience. In all honesty, the twist feels like a gimmick, which is quite damaging since it is the movie’s major source of drama. Despite the potentially squikiness of the situation, this conflict feels oddly trite, and even unnecessary. Given the movie’s light-hearted nature, it is clear that the movie would not follow through with this twist to its fullest, lest it take an uncharacteristically nasty turn due to the repercussions. The movie does resolve this conflict in a way that enforces the theme of honoring the legacy of those who have come before you, but ultimately it feels like an unneeded contrivance.
Goro Miyazaki’s direction here is a definite improvement on his previous work on Tales of Earthsea, but it still isn’t the handiwork or an exceptionally talented director. He plays it rather safe, not doing anything that could be considered a poor directorial choice, but also never achieving anything truly striking or indicative of who he is as a director. He sticks to conventions, never really takes any big risks, and as a consequence the movie feels rather unambitious. That’s not to take away from what is done well here; the movie looks nice and sounds nice. The artwork and animation are up to usual Ghibli standard, which is to say they are very good. The use of the song "Ue o Muite Arukō" is possibly the best decision in making the film, as that song is emblematic to the time in Japanese history the story takes place, and it’s just a good song to boot. However, it doesn’t feel like Goro Miyazaki has truly found his voice as a director just yet.
While not a great movie, and certainly not amongst Ghibli’s best, From Up on Poppy Hill is a commendable second effort by Goro Miyazaki. It’s a fun and charming little film, with a hopeful sentimentality which is nothing short of infectious. It is a work from a director that is still green, but is definitely improving. Hopefully it is a trend that continues as his career progresses.
From up on Poppy Hill has made itself an independent film that doesn't compare to any other Studio Ghibli films in the past. Before watching this, I was worried that it would be a copy for 'Whisper of the Heart', a romance film from Studio Ghibli that I thoroughly enjoyed myself. But this film is worlds apart from it and shines as a unique and enjoyable experience for all ages. I love how there is a deep plot that doesn't just focus on the fact that these two love each other forever, there are some trials that they have to face in order to truly
develop a relationship.
The art is outstanding as always and always leaves me in awe, as it is an animating style that I've never seen before except in Studio Ghibli films. The characters develop and change throughout the film and are not the same people at the end. The events that happen bring all sorts of emotions to the screen, and we see the different sides to their characters. I enjoyed this a lot and the film definitely deserves the score I've given. Studio Ghibli has succeeded yet again in making an amazing film in all sorts of aspects.
This is the 3rd time i watch Ghibli film, and IMHO this is a masterpiece. Well i admit that sometimes i can't understand their expression clearly, for example when they are in doubtful situation, their face doesn't show much/drastic change. On the other hand this show bring a deep impact for young generation to always have faith in yourself (WITHOUT WHINING) in order to achieve your dream/ fulfill your mission.
art and sound 10
it brings me to old era, nostalgia
The story is wide, but the main focus is self development. This is heartwarming and realistic, especially when it shows the dorm life.
Umi, she is perfect and discipline, on the other hand she is depiction of real human who also has fragile side. she become fragile after love Shun, but she struggle to overcome those crisis by working hard in community. She isn't sink on the sea of sadness.
Shun is also good man, he isn't try to hide any fact and ASAP reveal his secret to Umi, which make this story doesn't seem like cheap melodrama.
My favorite part of this film is the setting, in fact, I'd have to say it's my favorite setting in a Ghibli movie so far (followed closely by "Totoro's" countryside). The little 1960's costal town "Poppy Hill" is set in is so adorable and picturesque, with beautiful backgrounds painted in rich colors. Studio Ghibli once again does a good job of evoking that nostalgic feel you often get from their movies.
Characters were okay. Both main characters were hard working, a trait that everyone loves in a protagonist. However, they were a little too perfect. Hayao Miyazaki, who wrote the screenplay for "Poppy
Hill", normally does an excellent job at creating balanced characters with a few human flaws, so it's a little disappointing to see him drop the ball here.
The story itself was a little lacking. There were two main plots: the fixing of the club house, which involved minimal conflict, and the love story. I personally was put off by the "close ties" the two main characters had, it prevented me from fully enjoying watching the romance blossom between the two. At one point, I was almost downright horrified at what I thought was going to happen, but I can't elaborate on that to avoid spoilers!
The soundtrack was a nice mix of genres, some jazz, some early 60's melodies, and even a tango-esque number was thrown in. The theme song was peaceful and simple. Nothing to complain about in this department.
All in all, not an awful movie, but not quite good enough for Studio Ghibli standards. Still, I have high hopes for Goro Miyazaki, you can see that he's improving with each movie he directs.
This is a solid slice of life romance movie, however it's nothing special. This is Goro Miyazaki's second film he has directed, this thankfully is a significant improvement from the critically slammed Tales of Earthsea, although From Up On Poppy Hill isn't as good as some of Studio Ghibli's better films.
This movie is about exploring your family heritage, which are shown really well. There are multiple scenes where Umi is thinking about her dad and how much he means to her, like during a dream sequence when she sees him again, or how everyday she raises the sea flags. These scenes show how much Umi's
family history has impacted her on a personal level, and how these shape her to be the person she is now.
The main plot is about how Umi's and Shun’s relationship, which is shown reasonably well. Watching them learn about their family's histories and how these effect them, the challenges they face as a result of this is shown in a very heartfelt and moving way. Although it would of been nice to see Umi and Shun spend more time together to build up their relationship.
The film also focuses on the high school students trying to save the club house, which doesn't add any substance to the story. This is fun to watch, but it doesn't add much to Umi’s and Shun's relationship because it doesn't focus on them and their personal struggles. During the club house sequence it often focuses on side characters which are easily forgettable and doesn't get much screen time. These make it harder to care about the clubhouse.
This film has some fantastic moments, especially when it focuses on Umi and Shun, however it is bogged down by focussing too much on the club house and minor characters. I would still recommend this movie for Studio Ghibli and romance fans, and I'll be looking forward to what Goro Miyazaki does next.
As much as I love and adore anime, I wouldn't really call myself a Studio Ghibli fan. On the contrary, I'm more of an anti-Ghibli kind of gal, so to speak. Before you stop reading my review or call me a lunatic, however, I would like to point out that I did watch over a dozen Ghibli films before coming to this conclusion. Although most people would like to argue that every single Ghibli piece is a masterpiece, I beg to differ. Out of all the films produced by this studio which I have seen, there were only two that I really liked and only
one that I completely fell in love with. However, as an adult, I know that you don't have to "love" something or to be a "fan" of it in order to appreciate its positive aspects. When it comes to Studio Ghibli, there are undoubtedly many of these, and From Up on Poppy Hill is no exception.
Featuring a classic combination of Ghibli themes and elements that audiences have come to love and recognize, this film has everything from depictions of nature and Japanese culture to interesting boats, cars, bicycles, and unique fantasy-like settings. If you loved Totoro's tree cave, Howl's moving castle and Chihiro's bathhouse, then you're in for a treat as this film features another unique building / setting full of life, color, and mystery.
The Quartier Latin, however, is not the only thing that comes to life in this movie. From the protagonist's house to the town where she lives as well as the city of Tokyo, every single place featured in this movie has an air of magic and adventure. Rather than magic, however, this film's focus is definitely on history, for it is set in 1960s Japan. Given this not-so-distant past, the story inevitably becomes laced with nostalgia, originality, and a timeless beauty.
Despite its interesting historical aspect and appeal, the story itself is somewhat lacking. Since this is not unusual for a Ghibli movie, I was hardly surprised or affected by this fact. Furthermore, the plot was also hardly surprising and fairly predictable, as was the slow pacing and the occasional moments of boredom and tediousness. Despite the writer / director throwing in some uncharacteristic plot twists, character development and plot progression remained largely inexistent, but again, I wasn't particularly surprised.
As always, it was the art and the music that saved the day for me. No matter how boring or uninteresting the story would become, I could never look away from the screen given the gorgeous settings mentioned above. Furthermore, there were also many beautiful landscapes featured throughout the movie, and the usual attention given to details in the background was simply impossible not to admire and appreciate. From book titles to grains of rice, the attention to detail and intricate art used in this film is not only an ode to Studio Ghibli, but also to Japanese culture as a whole. This further reinforces the feeling of nostalgia and classic-ness, for despite coming out only five years ago, the art style and look of the characters is not so different from those we may have seen ten, twenty, or even thirty years ago. (Though I am personally not a fan of all these characters looking like exact, plain, carbon copies of each other, it definitely makes the Ghibli trademark familiar and recognizable while also giving the film a bit of a "retro" feel).
Despite everyone trying to trick you into thinking that this movie was in fact made in the 60s (or perhaps a decade later, at most), its high, modern quality, its vibrant colors and its funky background music will tell you otherwise.
Although no longer composed by Joe Hisaishi, the soundtrack still feels like a unique combination of old-school and modernity. While the original music sounds fun and sleek, the addition of actual songs from the 60s seem to take you back in time as well as to match the overall mood and tone of the story pretty well. The song used in the beginning is a cute and interesting tribute to the traditional Japanese breakfast, while the one at the end is almost unbearably beautiful.
If it wasn't for these two positive aspects, my review would have mostly been negative due to all the problems this movie had as well as my general dislike of Studio Ghibli. However, I must give credit where credit is due and I have to admit that watching this film was fairly enjoyable. Although I probably wouldn't watch it again or recommend it to my friends and family, I would definitely recommend it to someone who is a fan of Studio Ghibli, Japanese culture, or simply beautiful art coupled with beautiful music. As always, I would also advise you to keep your expectations pretty low and your mind pretty open if want this movie to be at least remotely memorable rather than entirely outstanding, amazing or surprising.
The later day Ghibli movies. So much COMING OF AGE DRAMA. I liked this more than I thought I would considering it's not directed by either of Ghibli's heavy hitters. I've been watching the Ghibli movies in reverse order and surprisingly I'd put this above The Wind Rises. It's definitely better than Marnie as well. Princess Kaguya...we'll see when I rewatch them in a decade or so. I know I shouldn't compare; every film is a delicate unique snowflake that deserves to be judged on it's own merits. So what are Poppy Hill's merits?
Beautiful Backgrounds: The messy interior of the clubhouse makes me rage with
jealously. I wish I could draw that well.
Likable Characters: This is what makes this movie better than Marnie. Umi and Shun were both cool customers. Unlike Anna who...I'm comparing again, what a clown.
A Setting That Speaks to Me: I have an infatuation with coastal towns with a lot of brick and busy market places. I wanna live where these characters live.
"But why a 7 then bub?": Is this a mind bending movie that you're gonna go out and tell your friends about? No. I personally prefer Ghibli's more whimsical films a la Totoro. These feel like wind down movies, like after a band releases a bunch of great albums and is super into it and tours for 5 years straight and then the drummer dies and the bass player has a kid and they start releasing more "mature" music. That's a great analogy I know.
Final thoughts: If you like Ghibli (and who doesn't?) you should watch this. The art is great. The music is good. The setting is cool, etc. It's not prime Ghibli but how long were you expecting that hot streak to last? Take it for what it is :).
I don’t understand why this Studio Ghibli film is considered mediocre by those who are used to the studio’s works, maybe because this is more of a Slice of Life anime. It lacks the fantastical elements of other Ghibli films. But I don’t think that’s a good enough reason to dismiss it as mediocre. In fact, From Up on Poppy Hill has a storytelling style that, as far as I’ve seen, hasn’t been done by Miyazaki before.
The story has two interweaving plotlines -- the personal lives of Umi and Shun and the seemingly controversial account of the school’s clubhouse. These two stories alternately develop, and
there are even instances that both develop at the same time. Take note that neither is a subplot. Both are the backbone of From Up on Poppy Hill.
Another thing that makes this film different from other Ghibli films is its overall atmosphere. It’s just a feel-good story. But it does completely turn into a rollercoaster ride of emotions halfway through. The point is, it’s not like other Ghibli films that bombard us with symbolism and subtle commentaries. The story is direct, and it doesn’t pretend to be more than that.
But the storytelling is not perfect. The narration at the beginning is unnecessary. It’s a poor attempt at exposition. Show me. Don’t tell me. (I watched the English Dub by the way, and I’m not sure if this narration is also embedded in the original Japanese.) Another problem is the lack of twists and turns. As I said earlier, the story is very direct.
In terms of characterization, there is not much in From Up on Poppy Hill. I’m not saying that they’re bad. None of them just seems to be memorable. Umi and Shun are the only characters that have a good amount of screen time. The others feel more like background characters whose only purpose is to give the impression that Umi and Shun actually live in society. I have no problem with the background characters though, because they’re not relevant to the story the film wants to tell anyway.
It’s also to be expected for the animation to do well, since this film is relatively newer than other Ghibli films. The portrayal of the setting is very admirable. This might sound exaggerated, but I could smell the salty scent of the sea while watching. As for the music, it’s successful on giving this feel-good impression in the first half of the film and emotional impression in the second half. The main theme is also quite catchy.
Overall, I think From Up on Poppy Hill doesn’t deserve to be overlooked as a Studio Ghibli film. Sure, it is very different compared to the studio’s other works. But I don’t think this difference should be translated as mediocrity. If anything, it should be translated as uniqueness.