Underestimating the power of a simple love story is a mistake often made by the cinema going public and who can blame us? Our screens have become saturated with so many different tales of romance that it can be near impossible to truly buy into a love between two characters. However, From Up On Poppy Hill is one of those rare films that manages to capture a relationship so pure that it could melt the heart of even the most cynical critic.
Set in 1960s' Japan, From Up On Poppy Hill is a film about a struggling young generation trying to make their way in a modernising world without letting go of their past. The story largely takes place at the top of a hill, one of few places still untouched by development yet surrounded by signs of a country trying to balance the old with the new.
Trying to navigate this new Japan are the films two main protagonists, high school students Umi and Shun who have found an innocent and utterly believable love for one another against the backdrop of a campaign to save their school’s clubhouse from the wrecking ball.
As we watch Umi and Shun’s love blossom through the beautifully animated scenes we begin to see hints towards a secret that has the potential to destroy this young couple’s happiness and change their relationship forever.
This absolutely charming film is only director Goro Miyzakai’s second film for the legendary Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli. His 2011 fantasy, Tales From Earthsea, failed to capture the magic of his father Hayo Miyzaki’s previous Ghibli classics however From Up On Poppy Hill should reassure anxious fans that Miyzaki Junior has ability to be a solid future leader of the much loved anime institution.
Although From Up On Poppy Hill lacks the same levels of emotion and nostalgia as other Ghibli coming of age stories such as Whisper of the Heart and Only Yesterday, it is still a wonderful example of the simple and heart-felt films that Ghibli have become loved for.
The Light House are showing both the Japanese and English versions of the film.