If you are familiar with Studio Ghibli, you know they are wonderful storytellers with great imagery. From Up on Poppy Hill is their latest release and it’s one of their best films to date. Visually stunning with a sensitive story, this movie won the Japanese Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2012. Re-dubbed by an A-list cast, this Special Edition Combo Pack includes both a Blu-ray and a DVD.
The story takes place in Yokohama while the country is preparing to host the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Umi (voiced by Sarah Bolger) is a busy high school student. Her father was lost at sea in the Korean War and her mother is studying in America. So Umi, along with her grandmother, is in charge of her sister and brother, as well as the boarders living in the house. She makes the meals and takes care of much of the household and attends school.
Umi meets Shun (voiced by Anton Yelchin), the editor of the high school newspaper. He is spearheading a campaign to save the building called “The Latin Quarter,” a rundown place that houses the school clubs. The kids see the charm in the old building, but there are those who want to tear it down and build a new, modern building.
Umi and Shun are instantly attracted to each other and their friendship builds as they work together to save the building. Everything is looking rosy for these two young love-struck people until Shun discovers a secret from his past that changes everything.
When he tells Umi what he uncovered, he says, “It’s like a cheap melodrama.” This heartwarming story is touching and sensitive. Focusing on the young high school students, the colorful movie is filled with emotional scenes, with some funny ones as well. Keep your eyes out for Umi’s little brother. This adorable little guy never stops eating!
Adding their voices to the film are Jillian Anderson, Beau Bridges, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bruce Darn, Ron Howard, Chris Noth, Emily Osment, and others.
The story is filled with connections to the past, which tie into the present. It has a great musical score and some beautiful hand-drawn scenery. The past meets the present in this wonderful family-friendly film. Filled with optimism, family ties, and heart, From Up on Poppy Hill is definitely worthy of the acclaim it has received.
The movie is rated “PG” for mild thematic elements, and some incidental smoking images. The Special Edition Combo Pack includes a booklet about the film and some lovely artwork. There are also bonus features include interviews, storyboards, and the original Japanese version. There are many hours of extras to go along with this charming movie.