It’s 1963 in Yokohama, from atop of Poppy Hill Mui Matsuzaki (Masami Nagasawa/Sarah Bolger) hangs a pair of flags every morning just like her dad taught her when she was a kid. Her life revolves around taking care of her two siblings and the boarders at her grandma’s house. While on a regular day at school, Mui and her friends meet Shun Kazama (Jun’ichi Okada/Anton Yelchin) who is leading a group of students that are trying to save the old clubhouse. Mui falls for Shun, but as she increasingly becomes involved in the campaign to save the clubhouse she falls deeper in love with Shun. However, soon they’ll find out a secret that threatens their ability to be together.
From Up On Poppy Hill was a pleasant surprise, not only did it manage to deliver the goods it made for quite a good love story. We normally look at Studio Ghibli releases and await the moment the magic takes over, but surprisingly From Up On Poppy Hill doesn’t have the same strange and yet magical feel that other releases have. However, the magic is truly found in the surroundings, the way each character deals with each moment, the struggles, the passion that drives each one of the characters, that’s where the real magic lies. Studio Ghibli really focuses on the beauty found within the landscape and everything that surrounds each scene that makes this is that much more enjoyable.
The movie itself does have a lot of good things; however, it does need of some work in a few segments. Keep in mind that Studio Ghibli worked on the film during complicated times after the Tsunami and earthquake, the studio literally worked through the forced blackouts. The film does feel somewhat subpar as opposed to other previously released films, but not by much. There are definitely a few scenes that feel completely irrelevant to the story. The trademark character development is still very strong with each one of its characters well studied, the way each handle each situation is fantastic and the human aspect that each bring forward is excellent. This is perhaps one of the aspects that Studio Ghibli has masterfully crafted and it shows. Even under such pressure and hard times, the film definitely shows passion with each one of its characters reflecting such feelings. Every character radiates that passion on the screen and even though this is not your typical magic ride, it has definitely earned a spot in the Ghibli collection.
From Up On Poppy Hill arrives on Blu-ray with 1080p MPEG4-AVC encode framed at 1.85:1 aspect ratio. From Up On Poppy Hill looks fantastic, proving that hand drawn animation is still quite impressive. The color palette is phenomenal and the wide range of colors displayed throughout the film appear with such vividness is fantastic. The black colors are deep and inky. There’s no signs of banding, aliasing, crushing in the picture or even ghosting. The picture right down from the main characters all the way down to the surrounds is eye candy. There’s really no complaints here, From Up On Poppy Hill looks fantastic.
From Up On Poppy Hill arrives on Blu-ray with an English and Japanese 5.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. For this review I chose to mainly focus on the Japanese track with English subtitles. The track is excellent and right away you will notice how soundtrack takes advantage of the space available. The dialogue is clean and clear throughout. The directionality and dynamic range are spot on. The bass here is non-existent here, but the track works fantastic without it. The soundtrack really takes advantage of the space and it is perfectly used to bring down and bring back up the film in key moments. The disc does contain English subtitles and English subtitles from the English cast which seems to have extra narrative in the film, so the difference is not drastic. Personally the regular English subtitles were great.
Storyboards (1:30:51) – Normally I would expect a few storyboards from the movie, but it’s Studio Ghibli so we get to see the movie in storyboards with the English voice acting.
Director Goro Miyazaki on Yokohama (17:37) – The director of the movie talks about the film and the use of Yokohama among other things.
Yokohama – Stories of the Past and Present (22:36) – This will take you through the transformation that Yokohama has gone through over the last few decades.
“Summer of Farewells” Music Video (5:45)
English Voice Cast Featurette (21:48) – take a behind the scenes look at the work done to bring the voice acting together for the movie. The English speaking producer talks about his cast and the movie itself.
Press Conference – Theme Song Announcement (39:33) – Hayao and Goro Miyazaki among other individuals involved in the composition and music for the film have a passionate and emotional announcement.
Hayao Miyazaki’s Speech After the Staff Screening (6:14) – The speech about the film is emotional and very honest. Definitely worth a look.
Japanese Trailer and Teasers (7:11)
US Trailer (2:25)
More Animation From GKIDS
From Up On Poppy Hill was made under very difficult times, but even under such tough times Hayao And Goro Miyazaki still managed to deliver a charming story that quite frankly features the highly quality that you come to expect from Studio Ghibli. Visually the film is gorgeous with all the beautiful hand drawn animation. The audio is equally enjoyable and it delivers on all expectations. This is a more “normal” story than what we are used to from Ghibli and it is easily recommended.