Animation Review: From Up on Poppy Hill
American animations have started to develop a very certain look and feel. Most of what is done is digital, and nearly all of it relies simply on slap stick style comedy and cheap jokes in order to entertain children. Films from Dreamworks, Blue Sky, and even Pixar have a sameness to them of late that can be nauseating.
Which is why we should all take a moment out of our movie viewing lives to watch a film from Studio Ghibli.
While there is some interesting stuff being done state side in animation, the best films are being made in Japan at Studio Ghibli. There, such marvelous films as “Princess Mononoke,” “Spirited Away,” and “Ponyo” have been made. Those three pictures alone are some of the best in the history animation, and they have made plenty of other great films.
(Related: Film Director Profile: Hayao Miyazaki)
One of their latest films to be released in the United States is Goro Miyazaki’s “From Up on Poppy Film.” A hand-drawn anime in the tradition of Studio Ghibli, this film follows Umi and Shun, two high school students who attempt to save their club house from the chairman of their school.
In stark contrast to the American style of animation, this is a very delicate film. Rather than rushing along with slam-bang humor and quick, forgettable jokes, “From Up on Poppy Hill” gives its story time to breath. It wades into its tale, allowing you to experience the richness of these characters and this world at a comfortable pace.
The animation both in the environment and characters is beautiful, and Miyazaki’s portrayal of 1960’s Japan is lush and vibrant. There is nary a dull moment, and when the film does become something of a melodrama, the visuals make it all worth watching.
In comparison to the Disney produced dubs, this one is a little shabby. GKIDS does a fine job, but Disney has done some great work with Studio Ghibli films in the past.
“From Up on Poppy Hill” is all and all a delightful sign of things to come. Hayao Miyazaki may not be retiring yet, but it won’t be too long before he does. He served as screenwriter on this film, but his son, Goro, was the director. Here, Goro proves that he has the talent and skill necessary to take on his father’s position as the artistic leader of the great Studio Ghibli.-3.5/4
Have you seen From Up on Poppy Hill? Are you interested? Let me know in the comments below.