Film review: From Up on Poppy Hill

Amanda Chang

From Up on Poppy Hill is Studio Ghibli’s latest film, that combines the talents of both Hayao Miyazaki as the writer of the screenplay and his son Goro Miyazaki as the director. The film takes place in Yokohama, Japan in 1963 while Japan is a buzz with excitement for the 1964 Tokyo summer Olympics.

An effort to modernize the country starts an ‘out with the old, in with the new’ attitude amongst the people. One of the many buildings set to be demolished to make room for new buildings is the Latin Quarter, an old clubhouse for students at the main protagonist’s, Umi’s, high school. Umi and the other students are soon swept up in a movement to save it.

As the students work to clean up the Latin Quarter, Umi begins working closely with a male student named Shun. To no surprise Umi and Shun start to fall for each other but an obstacle soon threatens their relationship.

From Up on Poppy Hill is a beautiful film with great animation and a good story, but by the end of the movie I was left wanting more. The film starts with passionate students saving their clubhouse, with a great theme being the importance of the past. As the story progresses, the clubhouse’s importance fades behind Umi and Shun’s blossoming relationship and the passion the students had at the beginning of the film seems to vanish.

The story no longer feels like a fight to save the clubhouse but rather a cute student project to give the clubhouse a face lift. It was a shame that the clubhouse became nothing more than a place where Umi and Shun could meet. I did enjoy the love story and found myself rooting for Umi and Shun’s relationship to work out but I was still a little disappointed with the ending.

From Up on Poppy Hill
started out quite promising, but as it progressed I feel the film tried to cover too much in the time given and as both storylines fought for attention, they both somehow fell short.