From Up on Poppy Hill

From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and The Secret World of Arrietty, comes another animated triumph. Yokohama, 1963. Japan is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the Olympics. The mood is one of both optimism and conflict as the young generation struggles to throw off the shackles of a troubled past. Against this backdrop of hope and change, a friendship begins to blossom between high school students Umi (Sarah Bolger) and Shun (Anton Yelchin) - but a buried secret from their past emerges to cast a shadow on the future and pull them apart.
Year Released
Studio Ghibli
Average: 2 (1 vote)


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Interesting subplot and setting. A somewhat good look at Japan during the 60's.

Field of Interest/Specialty: Chemistry
Posted On: 12/19/2014

I've enjoyed many Studio Ghibli movies but this is by far my least favorite that I've seen. This doesn't mean that it's awful, just that it doesn't live up to the expectations in my opinion. The movie is a fiction story very much rooted in reality, taking place during the 1960's in Japan. The movie makes it a point to mention that the Olympics will be held in Japan soon and that there is a kind of "reconstruction" going post-war. The plot revolves (somewhat) around a building found to a part of Japanese high school's campus; the building is home to all of the school's clubs and is also a very old building. The school board wants to tear the old and rough looking building down but of course the kids want to save it. A lot is mentioned about how this reflects the current feelings of the country, wanting to forget the past and cover it up with all that is new. I liked this allegory that was going on as it had a nice historical and cultural relevance to some of the things I learned in the East Asian seminar.
Sadly though, this nice plot is overshadowed by the overpowering love story going on on the main stage. Now, I can appreciate a good love story, but the keyword is good; this one is not. It isn't just an awkward love story between two high schoolers, this is an awkward story with a completely unnecessary twist, emphasis on unnecessary (I literally turned to the person I was watching it with and asked, "What was the point of all that?!"). I don't want to ruin anything for those who want to watch it, so I'll stop there.
I gave the movie a 2-star rating because of the subplot being interesting, and also the other aspects of the film. The movie is beautifully animated (as can be expected from this studio) and the music is downright great; some nice Japanese tunes from the time period. Also there are some genuinely funny moments where I laughed out loud, particularly with some of the club members inhabiting the old building (the chemistry club and philosophy club being my favorites). The movie also has a kind of A-list cast, with such actors as Gillian Anderson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jeff Dunham, and Ron Howard (there are others but I can't quite remember who else is in it). Unfortunately I found the voices for the two main characters to be dull and uninteresting, causing their plot to be even more annoying.
As a film, From Up on Poppy Hill felt long, unemotional, and somewhat unnecessary overall, BUT the subplot involving the clubhouse, the animation, the music, and some of the side characters and their dialogue helped me get through this. As a film to be used as a teaching aid, I don't think I can recommend it, as a historical piece, there isn't enough history/culture, and as a film in general, it just doesn't get my vote. If the romantic plot hadn't been so blatantly flaunted in the foreground and the subplot being more of the focus, this movie would be more enjoyable and be a somewhat useful teaching aid for the historical and cultural references.