From Up on Poppy Hill

From Up on Poppy Hill

2013, PG, 91 min. Directed by Goro Miyazaki. Voices by Sarah Bolger, Anton Yelchin, Gillian Anderson, Christina Hendricks, Aubrey Plaza, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Noth.

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., April 19, 2013

For nearly three decades, the Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli has produced film after film of elevated artistry, largely under the direction of Hayao Miyazaki and including Castle in the Sky (1986), the wonderfully wackadoodle, when-pigs-fly Porco Rosso (1992), and the spiritually uplifted Princess Mononoke (1997). (The latter, no lie, turned me vegetarian for two years; for context, I should also point out I was cashiering at Whole Foods and smoking a not-negligible amount of weed at the time.) From Up on Poppy Hill, Studio Ghibli’s latest (dubbed into English), is decidedly earthbound in comparison to those transportive earlier films, though it’s not without its charms.

Adapted by Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa from an early Eighties manga series, directed by Hayao’s son Goro Miyazaki, and dubbed in the Stateside release by American actors, From Up on Poppy Hill combines an agreeably corny university-clubhouse comedy with a fairly straightforward coming-of-age melodrama in which student Umi (Bolger) falls in love with the rakish Shun (Yelchin), even though his uncertain lineage might put him uncomfortably close to Umi on the family tree. (Okay, “straightforward” except for that soupçon of incest intrigue.) Set in the ramp-up to the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics, From Up on Poppy Hill engages us most in the ways it grapples with the tug-of-war between tradition and modernity; interestingly, it’s the youth here clamoring to preserve old ways. And even if the film never shares the rarefied air of primo Studio Ghibli titles, it boasts visual handsomeness and celerity, zooming between the tippy-top of the title’s Poppy Hill (killer views) on down to the city bustle at sea level.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Films
Men in Black: International
The MiB stay Earthbound in a sequel saved by its stars

Matthew Monagle, June 14, 2019

Shaft
Three Shafts are definitely worse than one in this failed revival of the blaxploitation classic

Steve Davis, June 14, 2019

More by Kimberley Jones
Austin FC Is the Hottest Ticket in Major League Soccer
Austin FC Is the Hottest Ticket in Major League Soccer
First-day deposits on seats break MLS record

June 13, 2019

Booksmart
The kids are better than alright in Olivia Wilde's raucous, resonant comedy

May 24, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

From Up on Poppy Hill, Goro Miyazaki

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle