I marvel at how simple this movie is. It's a romance, but there's no villain, there's no kissing, there's no skin shown. Yet I was at the edge of my seat over whether the hero and the heroine would get together. The incidents have no fantasy, no action chase scenes, no amazing settings, just everyday life at a seaside town, a boarding house and a school. It reminds me of Ocean Waves, another Ghibli movie that I absolutely adore. In comparison, the average Hollywood romantic movie seems so loud and garish. The actors and actresses in typical Hollywood rom-coms are the cartoons, not these animated people I've grown to care about in the span of an hour and a half. What are comparable movies? In the Mood for Love, from Hong Kong, and Scorsese's The Age of Innocence. I'm in love again.
From the moment "Up on Poppy Hill" opens, scans its world in photographic panorama, and takes you into an ordinary Japanese kitchen where early-teen Umi is preparing a meal, you sense that this will not be like any Miyazaki film that you have ever seen. Still present is the flawless Studio Ghibli animation, but all traces of fantasy are gone. Instead the film grabs your heartstrings and won't let go. It's a simple enough story, neither harrowing nor heartbreaking, but its telling is so rich and enveloping that you're quickly as close to it as if you were on the back of a careening bicycle with Umi. // Young children will be entertained by the wonderful animation and may have questions to ask about the differences between how Umi lives her daily life in 1963 Japan and how they themselves live. Anyone older than about nine will grasp the full depth of the story and will enter it through its richness and detail. If you are empathetic at all your eyes will be wet from recognition, and, often enough, from joy. See this film and hope for more like it from the new Miyazaki generation. (Note: This review is for the English-dubbed, non-subtitled version that opened in Los Angeles in late March, 2013.)
The newest Ghibli film (which is already out on video overseas but will not play theatrically in the U.S. until March of 2013) is the second from Hayao's son Goro, after the somewhat disastrous Tales from Earthsea. This one is definitely a success. It's a smaller Ghibli film, more along the lines of Only Yesterday, Whisper of the Heart and Ocean Waves. In fact, it's probably most closely related to Ocean Waves, in that it's about teenagers and their relationships. It's quite a bit better than that one, though. The story revolves around a group of teenagers in Yokohama trying to save their school clubhouse from demolition. The story takes place in the early 1960s, and their clubhouse is slated to be destroyed to make way for an Olympic stadium of some sort. The two main characters are Umi and Shun. Shun is one of the leaders at the clubhouse. Umi kind of falls for him and comes up with the idea to pretty up the clubhouse in order to impress the politicians, hoping they'll move onto another site. The story is very small and simple, but it's utterly charming. The artwork is truly stunning and the music (by Satoshi Takebe) is gorgeous. I doubt Disney will open this one wide, but they are planning on giving it a modest Oscar campaign so, unlike Arietty (which would have easily won the award last year), this should definitely get a nomination.
After having seen Goro Miyazaki's Tales from Earthsea, I didn't have quite high expectations from this. Goro proved me wrong this time by creating a calm, sweet and tender anime. Hayao Miyazaki is the screenwriter and I was quite surprised that he moved away from his supernatural themes containing gods and flying castles, choosing to write something realistic. Yes, this "realistic" part is the heart of the entire film and it works so lovingly.Ghibli once again captures the audience with beautiful animation and a captivating score. The film successfully re-creates the 60's world with meticulous details. Each and every character is energetic, whether he/she is the action or just the part of the action. As the film is about saving the school's clubhouse, we can "feel" that these teens really are trying to save it and you forget it's an animated film. Most of these characters are quite inspirational... The film is not epic or dazzling like teen oriented movies actually are. It's a simple nostalgic experience.In conclusion, another simple and heart-felt film from Ghibli that you can enjoy with your friends and family. A good film for a relaxing weekend ;)Drop by my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/filmsthemostbeautifulart
Not all Japanese anime is the "pow" "bang" of giant robots fighting. We're familiar with whimsical -often "supernatural"- stories from Miyazaki and others, and also the strong environmental themes that pervade much of Miyazaki's work. Then there's the "shoujo" sub-genre -aimed at pre-teen to teenage girls- which tends to have female leads, romantic subplots, and resolutions involving personal growth. It seems to me "shoujo" substantially overlaps with anime that emphasize nostalgia and childhood. The Studio Ghibli anime "Only Yesterday" (_not_ distributed in the U.S. by Disney, and hence perhaps not as well known) was in many ways a pioneer in this subtype of anime."From Up on Poppy Hill", the most recent Studio Ghibli fare, is definitely a "shoujo". It's directed by a Miyazaki too ...but not "the" Miyazaki. Hayao Miyazaki is officially credited as the writer, and seems to have been intimately involved. But the actual director is his son Goro Miyazaki. Father and son share a strong preference for the traditional hand-drawn style of 2D animation over detailed and beautiful background paintings. I found the result quite charming. It's less "realistic" and "action-packed" than the 3D fare we usually see, but more imaginative. This story is much calmer and slower and less frenetic than our usual fare, something I found refreshing.Despite the placid surface, the story is in fact quite intricate, even suspenseful. Although not "edge of your seat" manipulative, it definitely pulls you into the story and makes you continually wonder "what's next?".Although released in Japan well over a year earlier, the English version was released in the U.S. only in March of 2013. The distributor for this release is "GKIDS", which is not a name I'm familiar with.Disney made an "agreement" with Studio Ghibli nearly twenty years ago which suggests they have distribution rights over much of the globe for most Studio Ghibli products. (The agreement has been "amended" a number of times in private, and its exact terms are not known to me.) It's had two important results for U.S. audiences: First, there's now a strong tradition of "no cuts"- what Studio Ghibli animates is exactly what we see, with no "fiddling" in an editing room. And second, Disney has gotten us used to very high quality English soundtracks. In fact the quality is often so high that even anime connoisseurs who don't actually speak Japanese often prefer the English audio (rather than the Japanese audio with subtitles). The traditional rule of thumb "dubs suck" has been modified to "dubs suck, except animes handled by Disney".Given that "agreement" and its recent history, one would expect Disney to distribute "From Up on Poppy Hill" in the U.S. too. But in fact, although Disney remains the international distributor in much of rest of the world, it is not involved in U.S. distribution of this film. Most likely Disney chose not to exercise its rights in the U.S., either because Goro Miyazaki's previous effort was critically panned, or because some of the themes of a typical "shoujo" -entirely unremarkable in Japan- are considered incompatible with Disney's image in the U.S. (Another possibility is the "agreement" covers works directed only by Hayao Miyazaki himself, no
I always have been a big fan of Studio Ghibli and of anime. From Up on Poppy Hill is not quite one of Ghibli's finest like Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Grave of the Fireflies, Castle in the Sky and My Neighbour Totoro, but it is better than PomPoko and Tales from Earthsea(both are worth watching, but I only consider them decent movies). Even with the rushed ending and a twist that is a touch too cheesy, From Up on Poppy Hill is still a charming film. As to expect, the animation is fantastic, with the beautiful colours and ethereal backgrounds still evident. The music is also wonderful, it does have a pleasant lilt to it and at times reminds me of the score from Kiki's Delivery Service. The song Summer of Farewells is one of my favourite theme songs of any Ghibli. The story is one of the studio's most realistic, and it still has the heart and charm you'd expect from a Ghibli film, especially in the middle, if not quite the depth of Grave of the Fireflies for example. The script has a nice balance of humour and poignancy, it doesn't have My Neighbour Totoro's whimsy but again From Up on Poppy Hill didn't strike me as the kind of film Totoro was, and the characters are likable and engaging throughout. Overall, charming, heartfelt and very likable, Studio Ghibli may have done better but to me seeing as I have enjoyed and most of the time loved their films I don't take that as a bad thing. 8/10 Bethany Cox
From up on Poppy Hill is a deserving addition to the Ghibli library. It's sweet, small and relatable. The manga-based script is written by Hayao Miyazaki himself, while his son Goro is directing this time. Poppy Hill is slightly different from the more known Ghibli films in the fact that it takes place completely in the real world and there's not even the slightest hint of anything supernatural. It makes it a different kind of film, so I would recommend placing your expectations outside the Totoro/Ponyo/Spirited Away territory. Once you settle into the setting, the movie offers a good time: the characters are colourful (especially the philosophy guy, he was hilarious!) and relatable and the simplicity and down to earth feel of the story prevents the film from getting out of hand. The romance doesn't feel forced in any way and there are many heartwarming moments. By the end I was just smiling and left the theater with a warm feel inside.The movie has some issues that keep it outside of greatness status. The animation isn't bad, but certainly not the level we've come to expect (this might be partly because the film was in production when the 2011 tsunami hit, so it's understandable). The story takes a while to get going, and also I found the music almost interrupting at times. I wonder how the sound mixing went because at times the music felt almost too loud.But in the end Poppy Hill is a very enjoyable film. It takes a while to get going, but it gives it the advantage of getting better and better as it progresses.Recommendation: For Ghibli fans and newcomers alike From up on Poppy Hill offers a heartwarming feel-good film that will bring a smile to your face. Definitely worth seeing
Having seen Tales from Earthsea, I wasn't expecting much from this film, although it had garnered some positive feedback. Goro Miyazaki had already shown us that he didn't share his father's magical touch, creative ingenuity and ability to tell timeless stories. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by this film. Though to be fair, the story was written by Hayao Miyazaki so at least part of the film's quality can be attributed to him and not his son.Still, Goro Miyazaki DID direct this film and with it he proves that he actually has some promise as a film artist. This is a delightful little film about young love, willingness to endure through hardship and the importance of trying even when it seems pointless. It's a story told well, with beautiful animation, identifiable and likable characters and many scenes that have stuck with me since then. The story of two young people in love and all the obstacles in their way is one that has been told countless times, but the version of this film is one of better ones I've seen. It's not flamboyant, neither is it too sweet or too clinical, rather it feels real. Sure it's a bit extraordinary, like a good story should be, but it still feels like I could learn something from it.So yes, the story and the characters are the best part of this film, for which we have to thank pappa Miyazaki, but I liked the contributions of the son as well. The atmosphere, the mood of the film, the feeling of mid-century Japan, the way all the characters interacted with each other. As stated before, it all felt just extraordinary enough to catch our interest, but not too much so that it became unbelievable.Though, in retrospect, I cannot say that I felt like I had seen something groundbreaking when I walked out of the theater. It is a fine movie by all accounts and Studio Ghibli can be proud to call it one of theirs, but it lacked that certain spark that all great films have. In that one singular aspect this film just wasn't all that extraordinary. It doesn't mean that you should see it, though, far from it. It's a film with heart, feeling and passion. It has cheer, humour and melodrama to spare and it will make you feel good, like a family film should.
Such is the greatness of Ghibli's backlog that each new release cannot hope to escape comparison with the old favourites. It has now been a full decade since the last truly great movie from the studio ('Spirited Away') and nine years since the last purely enjoyable one ('The Cat Returns'). All movies since had their moments, but their uneven quality whether it was a full-fledged fantasy like Howl's Moving Castle (2004) or more sedate affairs like last year's The Secret World of Arrietty (2010) did not make it easy for Ghibli's devoted following to love them unreservedly. Miyazaki Hayao's son, Goro, made his debut with Tales from Earthsea (2006), which wasn't received very well, prompting some to question whether Ghibli's future would be secure after Miyazaki Senior's inevitable final retirement. From Up on Poppy Hill is Goro's second feature, and while it is an accessible and enjoyable effort, it lacks the kind of profound detail and nostalgia that made Only Yesterday (1991) and Whisper of the Heart (1995) so special. Set in Yokohama, Japan just before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Poppy Hill tells the story of Umi, a second-year high school girl who lives and works at a tenant house run by her grandmother. Her father was a sailor who was lost at sea during the Korean War and presumed dead; her mother is studying in the US and thus also an absent figure for Umi. Every morning she raises signal flags out on the garden which overlooks the ocean as a way to remember her lost father, before embarking on a daily routine rigidly structured around school and the chores she must perform at her home. One day she runs into a reckless, dashing senior named Shun, and soon allows her life to open up to the optimism and energy of the teen idealists who occupy Quartier Latin, a dilapidated school clubhouse where the more intellectually-disposed male students have set up various headquarters for their extracurricular activities. Umi helps out Shun with his newspaper printing, and ends up fighting alongside him and the occupants of the clubhouse to save Quartier Latin against the forces of change which holds sway in Japan. Meanwhile, unforeseen revelations about their families' past force Umi and Shun, who are increasingly drawn to each other, to reconsider their feelings. The real-world setting and small-scale drama of Poppy Hill place the film in that category of the more contemplative and tranquil Ghibli animation alongside Only Yesterday and Whisper, but it doesn't come close to joining the two in the pantheon of the studio's most beloved hits. What those two movies did was to depict the everyday routine and the smallest trivial action with the same affection and wonder, not to mention painstaking detail, as it did flying dragons and wolf-gods; Ghibli treated things like sharpening a pencil or coming home after school like they were the most special things in the world, deserving of care and skill and attention - only we don't realize it. Only Yesterday and Whisper continue to resonate with their audience because they endeavoured to draw fantasy not from the outlandish but from the mundane, the normal, the everyday. They stand apart from the role-playing wish-fulfillment of countless animes and the likes of Harry Potter and The Matrix and suggest in their inimitable, tender way that we should treasure the lives we lead now, that they deserve the same kind of longing and wonder, and hinted at worthwhile fulfillment within real means.Sadly, there's no su
Having only seen Tales from Earthsea from Goro Miyazaki earlier, I didn't get my hopes up much for this film to hold the nostalgia and love that has become Studio Ghiblis trademark. Boy was I wrong. I didn't like Spirited Away too much since it involved supernatural phenomena which gave the writers a lot of "creative freedom", and Princess Mononoke was just too violent. With Hayao doing the script and Goro directing this time, father and son have made movie history together.Being a member of my hometown's constructional board myself, I can relate to how Tokyo's counterpart must have been in a hurry to clean up the city from old buildings before the 1964 olympics, and how student opinion tends to lean towards preserving what has been at their school since they started. Characters are very believable and follow some patterns that make us think "ah, I know someone just like that!". Animation is beautiful of course. Not the lush greenery of Arietty, but everything feels like a very realistic depiction of what 1964 Tokyo suburbs must have looked like. I'm going all in and give this movie a 10 out of 10, because it's the best animated movie I have seen in a lot of years.
Soundtracks are very nice. Animated scenes also are worth watching. Audiences can see the way Japanese people doing with their life. It seems to be mediation (Zen) in every activities. They focus on them deeply, not slow, not fast, just enough to feel living emotion, being present. I'm very appreciate that - the Japanese honor. By the way, i am not sure that spirit still exist in Japan now. One thing i take from this movie and another Japanese movies, manga, anime: they love summer and also the youth (in high school) very very much. It makes any songs about summer be very touching. Imagination brings me to Japan with summer wind, summer taste, summer beach and summer love.