Monday, 3 October 2016

From Up on Poppy Hill

Year of Release:  2011
Director:  Goro Miyazaki
Screenplay: Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa, based on the manga From Up on Coquelicot Hill by Tetsuro Sayama and Chizuru Takahashi
Starring:  Masami Nagasawa, Junichi Okada, Keiko Takeshita, Yuriko Ishida, Jun Fubiki, Takashi Naiko, Shunsuke Kazama, Nao Omori, Teruyuki Kagawa
Running Time: 91 minutes
Genre:  animation, comics, drama, coming of age, romance

This animated film from Japan's legendary Studio Ghibli, is set in Yokohama, in 1963.  Sixteen year old Umi Matsuzaki (Nagasawa) balances schoolwork with helping to run the boarding house where she lives with her younger sisters and her grandmother.  At school, she meets Shun Kazama (Okada) who writes for the school newspaper and is heavily involved in a student campaign to save a large ramshackle building which houses the school's various clubs, from demolition.  While at first she dislikes Shun, Umi becomes drawn into the campaign to save the building, and she and Shun draw increasingly close.

This is a gentle, nostalgic, romantic, coming-of-age drama.  In contrast to better known Studio Ghibli films, such as My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Kiki's Delivery Service (1989) and Spirited Away (2001) this features no supernatural or fantasy elements whatsoever.  Co-scripted by acclaimed writer/director Hayao Miyazaki, from a 1980s manga, it was directed by Hayao Miyazaki's son, Goro, whose previous directorial credit was Tales From Earthsea (2006).  This is not one of the best Studio Ghibli films, but it is still a more than respectable addition to their hallowed filmography.  It's a gentle, sweet film, devoid of conflict, depicting a kinder world in lush vibrant colours, however it doesn't ignore some of the darker aspects of 1950s and 60s Japan.  While some of the animation isn't as polished as some of the other Ghibli films, and towards the end there is maybe one plot contrivance too many, this is still a great film for children and adults.

"There's no future for people who worship the future, and forget the past." - Shun Kazama (Junichi Okada)

From Up on Poppy Hill

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