Tuesday, July 22, 2014

From Up on Poppy Hill (Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack)

From Up on Poppy Hill(Note: this is a review of the movie, not of the DVD. Based on other reviews, I would advise potential buyers to be cautious about the quality of the specific DVD being sold.)

From Up on Poppy Hill (Kokuriko-zaka Kara) is nothing less than the best Studio Ghibli film since 2004's Howl's Moving Castle, possibly even since 2001's Spirited Away. Directed by Goro Miyazaki from a screenplay by Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa, From Up on Poppy Hill is based on a 1980 serialized Japanese graphic novel of the same name, illustrated by Chizuru Takahashi and written by Tetsuro Sayama. The animation is lush and lovingly detailed, and the story an engaging tale of two high school students dealing with first love and with the importance of the past, both on a cultural and institutional level, and, as it turns out, on an intimately personal level as well.

The story is set in 1963 in the port town of Yokahama in Japan in 1963 against the backdrop of the country getting ready to host the 1964 Olympic Games. Umi Matsuzaki is a sixteen-year-old high school girl living with her family and a couple of boarders in a house on top of a hill that overlooks the harbor. Her mother Ryoko, a medical professor, is currently away, studying abroad in the United States. In her mother's absence, Umi runs the house and looks after her younger siblings, Sora and Riku, and her grandmother, Hana. The boarders, both women, are an artistic college student named Sachiko Hirokouji and a doctor-in-training named Miki Hokuto. Umi's father, we learn, died many years ago when Umi was quite young, killed when his cargo ship hit a mine during the Korean War. As a kind of ritual to his memory, each morning Umi raises a set of naval signal flags up a flagpole outside the house with the message "Safe Voyage" to the ships out in the harbor.

One day, an anonymous poem about the flags appears in the school newspaper. Curious, Umi decides to visit the school newspaper to ask who wrote the poem. The school paper is published out of an office located in a delapidated old building on the school grounds nick-named "the Latin Quarter" which houses all of the school clubs and has done so for as long as anyone can remember. But the Latin Quarter is now endangered by a plan to tear it down and replace it with a brand new building as part of Japan's modernization program to put on its best face for the upcoming Olympics, a move that has the students divided between those who want everything to be new and those who have an emotional attachment to the old and traditional, which they see embodied by their beloved Latin Quarter.

On the way to visit the paper's office, Umi, accompanied by Sora, witness another student, Shun Kazama, performing a daredevil stunt to get publicity for the paper's "Save the Latin Quarter" drive. Umi is somewhat less than impressed by Shun's feat, but when she reaches the school paper office, she discovers that Shun, along with his friend Shiro Mizunuma who is the student government president, is the publisher of the school paper (and also, as she learns later, the author of the poem about her flags). Before she knows it, Umi is volunteering to help, first with the paper, preparing stencils, and then soon with their drive to save the Latin Quarter. She suggests that the best way to start would be to give the building a complete facelift, first with a thorough cleaning and then with much needed repairs and a fresh paint job. In this cause, Umi enlists the school's female student population, which in turn gets the male students guickly and enthusiastically on board.

As they work together, Umi and Shun start feeling a growing attraction to each other. But the path of young love is rarely smooth, and theirs is thrown for a bigger curve than most when Umi shows Shun a photograph of three young naval men, one of whom is her deceased father. But Shun has seen this photograph before, and suddenly a past neither of them were previously aware of begins to assert itself, complicating their budding relationship before it's properly begun. From that point on, the twin plot threads of Umi and Shun and their pasts and of the students' crusade to save the Latin Quarter are subtly intertwined. To say more would be to spoil the story.

The animation in From Up on Poppy Hill is wonderfully detailed and executed in so many ways it would take a long time to properly describe them. The Latin Quarter clubhouse is a marvel of clutter, completely believable as the sort of old place whose every corner would be filled with incredibly varied bric-a-brac due to the myriad kind of clubs it houses (and going for years without a proper cleaning because that's not typically a high priority with most boys).

Another thing I particularly liked were the subtle changes in the backgrounds as evening approached in some scenes; you could feel the sun slowly beginning to set with the ever-so-slight lengthening of shadows and changes in the hue of the sky. Equal detail was given to the way the characters moved and the things they did. In one scene, when Umi is preparing dinner, she pours the rice into a square box, then carefully runs a flat edge over the top to level it so that the amount measured out is exact. It's a minor detail not dwelled upon, but one of many similar ones that give the film a depth of reality rarely found in most animated films.

Highly, highly recommended for anyone who loves beautiful animation, engaging characters and truly first-class story-telling that never condescends to its audience.

This movie is very well done. Although it is not a Hayao Miyazaki movie, it is made by his son. You can feel how it is similar to Miyazaki's films. It just doesn't have the fantasy elements that most Miyazaki films have. Instead its more of a slice of life, laid back movie like Whisper of the Heart. Which I really enjoyed. So even though its not like watching something like Spirited away or Howl's moving castle, it is sweet and very well done. if you are a fan of Studio Ghibli's work, this is a great movie to watch. I highly suggest you check it out! It will surprise you in a good way!

Buy From Up on Poppy Hill (Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack) Now

Another amazing studio ghibli movie. The story is fairly simple but still interesting and the characters are easy to care about and make the movie a great watch. Could easily watch this again and again.

Read Best Reviews of From Up on Poppy Hill (Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack) Here

Let me start this by saying I'm a major Studio Ghibli fan as their films are all superbly done and have stories with characters that matter to the viewer. This one is no exception. I particularly like that it is set in the early 1960s, a period before Japan had become the economic powerhouse that it is today. As usual, the characters are delightful and the ending is equally a treat. It looks at how things used to be and if you have every lived in or visited Japan during this period of time, you will recognize a great deal of the surroundings. Enough from me. Buy this one. You will be so glad that you did. I've viewed it at least a half dozen times in the last few weeks and it is just as delightful the last time as it was the first.

Want From Up on Poppy Hill (Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack) Discount?

I saw this movie in my local theater last week. It is dubbed by Disney voices. I really liked the movie. It felt like a 50's movie to me. I will plan to purchase it when it is for sale. It is hand drawn and sometimes when the camera panned shots, it went out of focus and hurt my eyes.

Overall, I really enjoyed this movie and plan to rate the Dvd when it becomes available.

Save 14% Off

No comments:

Post a Comment