From Up On Poppy Hill (2013)



Critic Consensus: Gentle and nostalgic, From Up on Poppy Hill is one of Studio Ghibli's sweeter efforts -- and if it doesn't push the boundaries of the genre, it remains as engagingly lovely as Ghibli fans have come to expect.

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Movie Info

The setting is Yokohama in 1963, and the filmmakers lovingly bring to life the bustling seaside town, with its misty harbor, sun-drenched gardens, shops and markets, and some of the most mouthwatering Japanese home-cooking set to film. The story centers on an innocent romance beginning to bud between Umi and Shun, two high school kids caught up in the changing times. Japan is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the 1964 Olympics - and the mood is one of both optimism and conflict as the young generation struggles to throw off the shackles of a troubled past. While the children work together to save a dilapidated Meiji era club house from demolition, their tentative relationship begins to blossom. But - in an unexpected twist that parallels what the country itself is facing - a buried secret from their past emerges to cast a shadow on the future and pull them apart. (c) GKids
PG (for mild thematic elements and some incidental smoking images)
Animation , Art House & International , Drama , Kids & Family
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Masami Nagasawa
as Umi (Japanese language version)
Haruza Shiraishi
as Sora (Japanese language version)
Junichi Okada
as Shun (Japanese language version)
Alex Wolff
as Riku
Aubrey Plaza
as Sachiko
Chris Noth
as Akio
Yuriko Ishida
as Miki (Japanese language version)
Emily Osment
as Nobuko
Tsubasa Kobayashi
as Riku (Japanese language version)
Bruce Dern
as Yoshio
Beau Bridges
as Mr. Tokumaru
Rumi Hiiragi
as Sachiko (Japanese language version)
Charlie Saxton
as Mizunuma
Ron Howard
as Philosophy Club President
Nao Omori
as Akio (Japanese language version)
Jake Steinfeld
as Fish Seller
Emily Bridges
as Mr. Tokumaru's Assistant
Jun Fubuki
as Ryoko (Japanese language version)
Keiko Takeshita
as Hana (Japanese language version)
Takashi Naitô
as Yoshio (Japanese language version)
Teruyuki Kagawa
as Mr. Tokumaru (Japanese language version)
Shunsuke Kazama
as Mizunuma (Japanese language version)
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Critic Reviews for From Up On Poppy Hill

All Critics (84) | Top Critics (27)

The gorgeous score and subtle visual craft save this entry in the Ghibli canon from mediocrity. But given what the studio is capable of, it's not everything fans will be hoping for.

Full Review… | July 30, 2013
Time Out
Top Critic

A departure for Studio Ghibli - an emotionally nuanced, nostalgic look at the past that is grounded in everyday reality but retains the humor and delight that are part of the studio's trademark.

Full Review… | May 10, 2013
Miami Herald
Top Critic

Goro Miyazaki has a style that's both more painterly and more cinematic than the cartoonish norm, while his father's screenplay is a classic coming-of-age story that seems suited for a live-action remake.

Full Review… | April 18, 2013
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

In the wisdom of this artfully rendered film, Umi and Shun - and the viewer - come to learn that the past and the future should go hand in hand, that the best way to move forward is to reflect, and respect, what came before.

Full Review… | April 11, 2013
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

The story of a girl grappling with first love, the absence of her parents and the anxieties of an on-rushing future in 1963 Yokohama has all the earmarks of a Miyazaki classic.

Full Review… | April 5, 2013
Washington Post
Top Critic

The film's perfectly fine, but it's not a patch on "Spirited Away," "My Neighbor Totoro," "Princess Mononoke," and other Studio Ghibli classics.

Full Review… | April 4, 2013
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for From Up On Poppy Hill


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.

Michael S
Michael S

Super Reviewer


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.

JY Skacto
JY Skacto

Super Reviewer


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).

Christopher Heim
Christopher Heim

Super Reviewer

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