Minor Ghibli 

The Low-Key Charms of From Up on Poppy Hill

FROM UP ON POPPY HILL “So who was your favorite character in Spring Breakers?”

FROM UP ON POPPY HILL “So who was your favorite character in Spring Breakers?”

SET IN JAPAN in the 1960s, the newest offering from animator Hayao Miyazaki's famed Studio Ghibli is a sweet, powerfully nostalgic look at the value of preserving the past in a tumultuous world. And if THAT sounds boring, there's also a love story that gets a little VC Andrews for a minute.

Umi is a high-school girl living in a port town in Japan. Boats drift past her house on a beautifully rendered bay, and each morning she raises a signal flag for her father, who was lost at sea during the Korean War.

When Umi falls for a rakish rebel named Shun, she becomes embroiled in Shun's campaign to save the school's claptrap "Latin Quarter," a sort of intellectual clubhouse slated for demolition. As she and Shun grow close, Umi learns a TERRIBLE SECRET that THREATENS TO RUIN THEIR LOVE FOREVER.

Despite the dramatic use of all-caps in the preceding paragraph, From Up on Poppy Hill is a terrifically sweet little movie—it's also fairly unremarkable, given its provenance. (English-language bonus: Gillian Anderson and Christina Hendricks provide voices.) Studio Ghibli completists will no doubt feel compelled to seek it out, but this is a minor work from an animation studio best known for knockouts like Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and My Neighbor Totoro.

From Up on Poppy Hill
Rated PG · 91 minutes · 2013
Director: Goro Miyazaki
Producer: Tetsurô Sayama, Toshio Suzuki and Chizuru Takahashi
Cast: Sarah Bolger, Beau Bridges, Jamie Curtis, Bruce Dern, Jeff Dunham, Isabelle Fuhrman, Chris Noth, Raymond Ochoa, Emily Osment, Charlie Saxton and Alex Wolff

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