Movie Review: From Up On Poppy Hill

I found a whole bunch of movies from Studio Ghibli when I was shopping the other day and I picked up all those I found. It was actually last weekend when I watched From Up On Poppy Hill and I am only just now getting around to writing a movie review for it.

“Yokohama, 1963. Japan is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the Olympics. Against this backdrop of hope and change, a friendship begins to blossom between high school students Umi and Shun – but a buried secret from their past emerges to cast a shadow on the future and pull them apart.”

It seemed to be a general trend for the movies that I watched last weekend to have a melancholy undercurrent. While I enjoy the animation style and the music from the Studio Ghibli movies, this one seemed a little bit more unhappy than the others I have seen. In that sense, I would say that this movie is a success for clearly demonstrating the different emotions that must have been prevalent during that era in Japan.

On the one hand, you have a country after a series of brutal wars and violence, trying to move into the future while also respecting its past and history. It must have been so hard for the people in that time to figure out what they really wanted and what was going to be best for the country as a whole. From what I’ve studied about Japan, it’s a country devoted to history and learning. After so much violence and war, it must have been really hard for them to figure out what from their history would help them move forward into the future and what would just put them back on the same path of violence.

I really liked the parts of the story with the print press and showing how complicated a process it was to make news back in those days. The whole process filled me with kind of a nostalgic longing for a time when people put their hearts into activities they loved. Even though this was a cartoon, animated movie, I could feel the passion the characters had for their respected clubs and also for their history. How much time and effort did it take to stencil in absolutely every character, then use the paint roller on each separate piece of paper, then wait for each one to dry, and disseminate it? Oddly, it really motivated me even more to want to create something beautiful.

I’m still uncertain about how I feel about the love story plot/sub-plot. I really appreciated that they loved each other and didn’t have any physical contact and that their love was more based on their mutual work towards common goals and a shared sense of what was truly important in life. They just didn’t want to be alone and they wanted to remember the people they loved. They wanted their loved ones back. And that moved me. I guess the whole issue about loving someone in a platonic and not purely romantic way really appealed to me. But the whole part about how their past might have impacted their relationship was really awkward. That’s the part I’m still uncertain about.

Overall, this was a really beautiful movie and really well done, though not one of my favorite of the Studio Ghibli movies.


About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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