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.