From Up On Poppy Hill - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

From Up On Poppy Hill Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ February 24, 2012
Directed by Goro Miyazaki (Tales From Earthsea), "From Up on Poppy Hill" is a minor work in the Studio Ghibli canon, albeit a lighthearted and charming one. Written by Hayao Miyazaki, the story is perhaps his most grounded yet, discarding the fantasy of his other works in favor of a simple, nostalgic take on a young romance (around the time of the Tokyo Olympiad).

The characters are likable, even as a surprising, life-changing turn of events stains there relationship. The subject of said mystery I will not spoil here, but I was pretty shocked that a Ghibli film would tread such (potentially) uncomfortable territory, but it's all innocent and handled really well.

The animation is really good, if a little rough around the edges at times. The film lacks the lingering establishment frames and joyous ambiance of Hayao Miyazaki's directorial efforts, and there is nothing particularly memorable on a visual level. But a low-key beauty suits the low-key melodrama of the picture.

"From Up on Poppy Hill" is a step in the right direction for Goro as a torchbearer for his father. It is flawed, it's animation not perfect, and it doesn't conclude in the most satisfying of fashions, but likable central characters, complex emotions and a tone like sunshine go a long way. Like any Studio Ghibli effort, it's well worth seeing.
Super Reviewer
½ September 15, 2013
Goro Miyazaki's From Up on Poppy Hill takes it slow and steady.Concluding at an hour and a half, the consistent sense of not knowing there the story is going is what keeps this film afloat. Backed by a calm atmosphere and a slower pace, the buildup of characters comes first and foremost, while the setting of the picture is a delight.As with any good anime, the design of the characters are great and the attention to background detail work wonders at making the story that much more engrossing.Voice work goes a long way in animations and there is no problem here. Masami Nagasawa and Junichi Okada highlight the cast.From Up on Poppy Hill doesn't pull any sharp turns with its storytelling, but when all is said and done, the story comes to a close nice and easy.
Super Reviewer
½ July 19, 2013
Goro Miyazaki's sophomore effort (with the help of his father writing the screenplay) goes for a much more down-to-earth period piece (set in 1960's Japan) in contrast to the high-concept fantasy of 'Tales from Earthsea' (aka. Tales from Bored-sea). While slightly better than his previous effort (which isn't saying a whole lot), Goro fails to make a convincing argument that he has what it takes to carry on his father's legacy.

While far from a bad movie, 'From Up on Poppy Hill' feels completely uneventful, especially for a Studio Ghibli flick. In a way it comes off as a much lesser version of 'Whisper of the Heart'; another idealistic boy-meets-girl devoid of the typical Ghibli magical realism. However, where 'Whisper of the Heart' managed to tell a powerfully sweet coming-of-age tale while making mundane everyday life seem enchanting on it's own right; 'From Up on Poppy Hill' instead tells an unsettlingly trite "save the rec-center" plot with Goro's direction lacking the expert eye-for-detail or youthful invigoration in order to make the ordinary city-scape exciting. One of the few times the film conjures up any of that special Studio Ghibli magic is in the clubhouse scenes.

The script by Hayao Miyazaki and Kaiko Niwa contains interesting themes regarding the idea of keeping the memory of the past alive while still looking forward to the future but Goro fails to conjure up any emotional resonance or intrigue from this simple tale. The characters are mostly forgettable; with the protagonist Umi being the only character with anything resembling depth (although far from the most engaging female protagonist that Studio Ghibli films contain in spades) and her romantic interest Shun contains zero personality. The narrative is blandly straightforward and little background is given as to why the clubhouse is so important to save from demolition (the students keep talking about how much history the clubhouse contains but we are never told any of it). There is also a plot twist that happens halfway through that could have been daringly interesting but the ensuing drama is so half-baked and the fact that it is literally retconed fifteen minutes later leaves the whole thing feeling like a cheap gimmicky soap-opera curveball (also leads to the biggest WTF moment in the film; those who've seen the movie will know what I'm talking about).

Aside from the good animation and atypical sets 'From Up on Poppy Hill' is Goro's second time at bat and things are not looking too bright. Either he needs to find his own style or has to stop making films altogether (emulating his father's style is only calling attention to all his shortcomings as a filmmaker).
Super Reviewer
½ January 13, 2012
A sweet and harmless animation that is surprisingly grounded in reality, without the fantasy seen in the works of Hayao Miyazaki, who wrote the story. It benefits from a lighthearted humor and tender nostalgia, even though it has a rather silly conflict that ends in a not-very-inspired way.
Super Reviewer
½ August 24, 2015
In "From Up on Poppy Hill," Umi Matsuzaki, a 16-year old student, hangs nautical flags every day from the porch of her home in memory of her father, a tugboat pilot, who went missing during the Korean War. This does not go without notice by boat captains in the area. What has also not gone without notice are the protests to keep the campus clubhouse, in danger of demolition for the upcoming 1964 Olympics, open which are led by Shun Kazama in occasionally spectacular fashion.

"From Up on Poppy Hill" may not be one of the best animated movies Studio Ghibli has ever released.(It is so melodramatic in spots that a character actually comments on it.) But then considering how sweet and sentimental it is, it really does not have to be. Of all the lavish details, I am most fond of the clubhouse which is spectacularly rendered. Through that symbol, the movie explores not only Japan's connection to its past but also its future. All of which is done at a nicely personal level.
Super Reviewer
½ September 7, 2013
From Up On Poppy is another departure from Studio Ghibli traditional fantasy films. Gone are the mystical worlds and the magical creatures that created some of the studio's most beloved and enduring films. It's more realistic, primarily set in the real world, and contains the same magical sense the studio is known for.

From Up On Poppy Hill follows a group of Yokohama teens looking to save their school's clubhouse from the wrecking ball in preparations for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The film plot is small in scale and simple with layers of depth. At it core it is a love story, but touches on the shift from the values of the traditional old age to the modern business era, the impact of war on friends and families, and depicts the nature of living influenced by circumstances rather than one that is self-dictated. It manner of storytelling and issues presented provide realism. We could imagine these characters, these issues, and this drawn world connecting to them as much as with our own home.

The central characters are charming making even the most mundane activity enchanting. One with her calm, mature exterior hiding her damaged background longing for the previous life before the Korean war and the other strong-willed also obscure by an uncertain background that becomes clearer when the relationship becomes more meaningful. Well constructed into the central theme as well as the environment representing symbolic nature of change in both the environment as well as the citizens views of life. The characters while serving the purpose of exploring the central theme are only meant to do that. The romance and the development of the characters remain static. A twist in the couple romance could have explored a different definition of love. The twist once introduce is not a contributing factor in the story nor challenges conventional ideology on love. Not exploring the same change in human emotion in our characters as it does with environmental change.

The traditional hand-drawn style of 2D animation filled with vividly detailed and beautiful background paintings. Its detailed interiors and sublime visual portrayal of Yokohama and the coast captures the beauty of Tokyo. Mirroring a live action films capturing every detail of every object appearing more three dimensional than some computer animated films. Clever sequences of animation liven up dull scenes like climbing stairs, as the 'camera' constantly follows the characters rather than having still 'shots'. Alongside the fantastic animation is the soundtrack which is brilliant liven ups the mood. Satoshi Takebe mixes long-flowing orchestral pieces with lively, jazz-like tunes. It all adds personality to each scene without over-powering or distracting from the visual nature of the picture. Aoi Teshima 'Summer of Farewells' is a fantastic theme song, that remains in the memory well after the end of the film.

From Up On Poppy film is enjoyable that contains the same magic and enduring character found in the studio. By appearance it seems simple, but in context of viewing the film everything subtextual will hold contextual meaning. It paints the real world whether with traditional or new views of life can reflect on the same experience as our character in a wondrous outlook.
Super Reviewer
May 26, 2013
In all the Miyazaki films I've watched, I believe "From Up On Poppy Hill" might be the one piece without any magical realism. Framed in a historical and familial context, there is a nostalgic old school charm that just oozes from every frame and soundtrack choice. While different from other Studio Ghibli animations, there is an emotional and comforting way in its storytelling that is unique to Ghibli films that fans will recognize and appreciate.
Super Reviewer
February 14, 2014
From a screenplay of his father's creating, Goro Miyazaki son of the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, directs this sympathetic and well-grounded film from Studio Ghibli. From Up on Poppy Hill is a very unique film in the Ghibli cannon, and is firmly grounded in reality, unlike most of Studio Ghibli's previous films which involve fantasy elements and worlds. This film is set in 1963 in Yokohama and the Japanese people are at a crossroads between the devastation of World War II and the upcoming 1964 Olympic Games to be held in Japan. The film primarily focuses on a young boy and girl named Yumi and Shun who are caught up within the changing times between holding true to the past and the change the future brings. The film is about preserving the past so that it stays firmly rooted within the future and the two children along with their schoolmates work together to preserve a dilapidated Meiji era clubhouse from demolition. As the two work together along with their friends an innocent romance emerges but it could be destroyed before it truly begins when truths arise neither knew of. The film is heartwarming and brimming with emotional resonance and touches on family, loss of a loved one(s), and hope. Yes the film is sad throughout it's messages of the past and present sufferings resulting from this but is ultimately a hopeful story and one that is touching and thoughtfully constructed.
Super Reviewer
½ March 31, 2013
I think Studio Ghibli should stick to fantasy. While the use of early 60s Japan as a background for the story is a unique setting, there isn't a whole lot done with the characters that doesn't feel stagnant or uninteresting.
Super Reviewer
January 21, 2014
Only Miyazaki could make a family friendly, sweet and charming film with an incestuous twist. A true legend of animation and storytelling.
October 20, 2015
Despite the distracting incestuous story line that gets resolved by the end this is a very beautiful story.
December 14, 2013
A story of young love, told with Hayao Miyazaki's great screenwriting and Goro Miyazaki's well made direction. Honestly, the English voice acting is a little stale (I blame Aubrey Plaza) but the animation is a wonder. Not a lot of animated films today do what Studio Ghibli does. The story also works, especially with the relationship between Umi and Shun. With all that intact, From Up on Poppy Hill is one of the best films of 2013. This film proves that Ghibli can still make good (or great) anime films!
½ November 25, 2013
A small little story and very realistic (considering Ghibli's normal fare), but incredibly sweet and touching. Miyazaki is nothing if not good at crafting engaging young heroines.
November 1, 2013
I really love Studio Ghibli's penchant for doing non-fantasy "slice of life" movies they do every once in a while. Along with Whisper of the Heart (has a minor fantasy element) and Grave of the Fireflies, they really do the "small" story well. This movie could easily be a live action period piece. Another thing Ghibli does well and often are making well drawn female characters. Just a joy of a film.
½ October 24, 2013
A simple and sweet, no frills attached animated film from Japan about a group of youths who band together to refurbish their beloved clubhouse in the Latin District of Tokyo before the Olympics come to that city in 1964. After the city had been awarded the games, older districts were torn down for venues and other grand events leading up to the games ... but a group of kids banded together to save a building they believed connected them to the past. At its center is a young girl named Umi who hopes that her father long-rumored to have died at sea in the Korean War will one day return. She befriends Shun, a young boy with a tragic past of his own and together they work with countless others to save something they believe to be important. From Up on Poppy Hill is a lesser Miyazaki ... as in the name associated with the great films Howl's Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, Ponyo and Spirited Away. Hayao Miyazaki is responsible for those films and Poppy Hill comes from his son, Goro Miyazaki. The film doesn't have the fantasy elements long-associated with Miyazaki and his splendid imagination; but Goro has still captured a film with a lot of heart. He perfectly captures the mood of the film with the inclusion of the Japanese song 'I Shall Walk Looking Up" (known stateside as Sukiyaki) which makes a couple random appearances in a few very good scenes. The lyrics of the song are about one looking up while crying over memories and feelings ... and it is a beautiful song used beautifully here. One must like Japanese anime to like this movie as it isn't as flashy as western audiences might like since we've grown so accustomed to computer animation and Pixar. It is a nostalgic throwback. And I liked it quite a lot ... I too shall walk looking up.
September 23, 2013
Though From Up on Poppy Hill is only written by Hayao Miyazaki (his son, Goro, directed it and the film itself is adapted from a manga by Tetsuro Sayama and Chizuru Takahasi) it has no shortage of the signature Miyazaki magic: that of exquisite realism rendered in gorgeous animation, like a meeting of Ozu and 2-D animation. The film is a delicate, nostalgic look at Japan circa 1963, from the point of view of a young schoolgirl living in the Yokohama neighborhood that the title evokes. Umi (Sarah Bolger) resides in a house overlooking water. Her sea captain father was lost during the Korean War, her mother is in the U.S. studying and so she is left in the care of her grandmother, aiding in looking after two younger children and a house full of boarders. Melancholy infuses much of From Up on Poppy Hill, but it's not dour: a romance emerges and the film soars on familiar Miyazaki touches like the triumph of the human spirit. The country is in anticipation of hosting the Olympics but the shadow of war still haunts them. To see such tender, nuanced business dealt with in an animated film is a treat. Here's to more films from young Miyazaki.
September 15, 2013
Sweet and sentimental. Very well drawn. I especially liked the cartoon's recreation of '60s-era Japan.
September 6, 2013
This is a very different Miyazaki film. It's more down to earth and set during a time in Japan's history shortly after World War II. It's still good and high quality with a charming and touching story.
September 5, 2013
From Up On Poppy Hill(2013)
Sarah Bolger(Umi),Isabelle Furhman(Sora),Anton Yelchin(Shun),Christina Hendricks(Sacri),Gillian Anderson(Miki)
Written By:Hayo Miyazaki
Directed By:Goro Miyazaki
My Review
I've said it before and I'll say it again Studio Ghibli always puts a smile on my face. For two years now I have been watching Ghibli films old and new and no matter what I always smile. The first one I got see in theaters was The Secret World of Arrietty although while this was in theaters in my state I couldn't go because it was in a bad neighborhood where a lot of crime happens so I didn't get the chance to see this one so I had to wait for the DVD. This Ghibli is different from the others cause it dosn't have anything supernatural or un-ordinary and I haven't seen Grave of Firefly's so I couldn't take to note what this would be like,not to mention I didn't see any trailers for this particular one I just read reviews and avoided the trailers to be surprised by the movie.
The Film revolves around Umi and Shun two teenagers who might be connected. Umi puts the flags every morining as a symbol or message to her father and so does Shun at his ship. The two think they might have a connection between their fathers but are falling head over heels for one another. But through their spirits they build a small building and found out the truth.
Ghibli does it again with another piece of beauty. Umi and Shun are two really great animated characters you don't feel for them necessarily but there very likeable. There is one beautiful scene where without spoiling anything is captured in a dream. The Animation works perfect with this story and these characters and it's as beautiful as ever. I don't believe that this particular Ghbli film is up there with some of everyone elses favorites mines icluded but it is one of my favorite films of the year and of all time I give this Ghibli film a 5 out of 5.
March 21, 2013
Tired of seeing all the ignorance about "Miyazaki's work" as if this isn't precisely and perfectly *exactly* like a Miyazaki film. You are not a true fan of his work if you think otherwise.

This film was poignant and lovely. It carried the same gentle notes as Whisper of the Heart and even the softer moments of Totoro, Arietty and Ponyo.
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