Take a Drink: for flags
Take a Drink: for blushes
Take a Drink: whenever Umi acts the Mom of the house
Take a Drink: for meals
Take a Drink: whenever saving the clubhouse is discussed
Do a Shot: for family photos
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
The news has been full of conflicting reports about the future of legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli, and no wonder, as it appears his storied career is drawing to a close. What everybody seems to forget, though, is that Ghibli is home to several other talented directors, and Miyazaki may not need to look any further then his own family to find a successor.
Hayao Jr. has been a bit of a disappointment, though.
With From Up on Poppy Hill, his son Goro establishes his bona fides as a fitting successor of his father’s mantle. The film, set in the 1960s, follows two teenagers as they deal with their responsibilities, their feelings for each other, and the tragedies and influences of the past.
What the film does best is create a very detailed, very authentic-feeling world, then populates it with characters it’s easy to care about. While Goro is the director, Hayao helped his son out, and his typical heart shows up in spades in the characters of Umi, a sixteen year old who runs the household for her large family with nary a complaint while her mother is away, and Shun, an idealistic young man who fancies her and impresses in school with his wide range of social organizations and interests.
The voicework and characterizations for all of the characters are excellent, but these two really steal your heart, especially when the drama begins and we begin to learn about their family histories, intertwined in ways they don’t expect and colored with loss and heartbreak. The film as a whole has a sense of nostalgia for a period of great change in Japan, right before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics which serves as a coming out party for Modern Japan, and sewed the seeds for the tumultuous later half of the decade, full of student demonstrations and social protest.
Yep, hippies happen everywhere.
This is before that, though, an admittedly rose-colored vision of days gone by full of lovely visuals, pleasant plotting, and likable personalities.
While at its best the animation is pretty and impressionistic, as a whole it’s a cut below what we’ve come to expect from Studio Ghibli. It’s rougher and less detailed, which may be due to the power outages following Fukushima, which affected production, but its nonetheless noticeable. I also was unimpressed with the soundtrack, which leans on overused jazz standards. Its only really flies when it incorporates period tunes from Japan.
Kinda surprising Tarantino hasn’t used “Sukiyaki” yet…
And yeah, it’s pretty melodramatic, but whatever.
From Up on Poppy Hill is a sweet, thoroughly charming little melodrama with a beautiful sense of place and time and that special Miyazaki touch.