Review: From Up On Poppy Hill

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[Spoilers!]

I haven’t seen a good anime film in a while and this one is one I have been meaning to see in a long time. It came out in 2011 and it’s set in the time of the 1964 Olympics. At the time, this was Japan’s first time to host the Summer Olympics. It was quite an honor. To prepare for the big event, Japan was to undergo beautification. So in an effort to improve Tokyo, certain renovations and changes had to be made. Streets had to be cleaned and old buildings taken down. In the film, one of those buildings is a clubhouse run by several students who attend school in Yokohama.

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The story revolves around two teens, Umi and Shun. Shun is the leader of the journalism club and Umi is a second year at the school. Shun performs a stunt hoping to create publicity so they can save their old, dilapidated clubhouse. He jumps from the roof of the building into a water drain. Umi rushes to his aid and immediately lets go of him when students from the journalism club starts taking pictures of them. This leaves Umi with a bad first impression of Shun. The stunt makes Shun somewhat of a celebrity on campus. Umi’s sister, Hana becomes a fan of Shun and urges Umi to go with her to get Shun’s autograph. They head to the clubhouse and Umi and Shun become friends. After a while Umi and Shun start to like each other but something about their past complicates their “relationship.” When visiting Umi at a get together, Umi tells Shun about her parents. When she shows Shun a picture of her father, Shun starts to become aloof. We find out that Shun and Umi might very well be related.

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In the past, Shun’s father, Akio Kazama, had lost a child. Umi’s father, Yuichiro Matzusaki, came to Akio with a child, asking him to take the baby because there was no way that his wife could take care of another baby. Akio assumed that it was Yuichiro’s child and adopted him. What Yuichiro failed to tell Akio was that the child was actually Hiroshi Tachibana’s, one of their close friends who had been killed in an accident at sea. Before all of this was revealed, Shun tells Umi that they are brother and sister. This devastates Umi. She quietly grieves the relationship that can never happen and puts up a false front like nothing is wrong. Deep down she feels sort of cheated and she finds it difficult to go back to the way it was before she fell in love with Shun. I find it interesting that Umi’s pain is shown in this way. In other movies and films, when two people find out that they are related, all feelings stop and everything seems normal. However, in this film you see Umi struggle to make sense of her feelings for Shun. Feelings like that don’t just stop after you have fallen in love with someone. It is only normal for things to be awkward and weird before it becomes normal. Umi is confused and she eventually speaks to her mother about everything.

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Whenever I see that there is a new Ghibli film I think about what could be different about this one. What about this film will stick out? Will I love this one too? It’s no surprise that this is a great anime film. Ghibli never fails to impress. There’s always something that grabs a hold of me and leaves a little something for me to think about. From Up On Poppy Hill is sweet movie. It’s a simple one but it still brought me to tears. The story is beautifully told with it’s quirky characters and amazing artwork. There’s nothing in this film that is out of place. If you’re a fan of Ghibli, you’ve probably already seen it. But if you haven’t, watch it! You won’t be disappointed 🙂

Audience: PG
Satisfaction factor: 9
Art: 10
Story: 9
Direction: 10
Would I recommend: Yes

*Note: Based on a scale from 1 to 10. 1 being the worst and 10 being the best you could get in a category.

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