Stung by the critical drubbing of his directorial debut TALES FROM EARTHSEA, Goro Miyazaki sought his father, the legendary Hayao Miyazaki's assistance for his second film. The end result, FROM UP ON POPPY HILL, isn't quite the classic that many of Studio Ghibli's peers are, but at the very least it's a less confusing and pleasant enough diversion. As always, the animation is beautifully rendered and rich with colors and detail, and the toe-tapping musical score is a plus. And the dubbing is, as per the tradition of a Ghibli movie, extremely well done, with solid performances by everyone involved. It even translates the vocal songs. The storyline, however, may turn off viewers expecting another lively fantasy or something fast-paced. FROM UP ON POPPY HILL skews more toward the contemporary, slow-paced "slice of life" kind of style from WHISPER OF THE HEART. This tale about high school kids who try to save their clubhouse from demolition by politicians mixed with a love story between a shy girl and one of the clubhouse members who may or may not be related to her is not particularly heavy on action and can often move slowly. Despite this, however, the characters are much easier to relate to than the cold, remote counterparts of EARTHSEA, and as mentioned, the film is less convoluted to follow, which is a plus. Time will tell if Goro will eventually find his voice and crawl out of the shadow of his more famous father, but POPPY HILL nonetheless is charming in its own understated way.