From Up on Poppy Hill (UK - BD RB)
Marcus falls in love with another Ghibli film and this time it's about falling in love
From Up on Poppy Hill, Studio Ghibli tells the tale Umi (Sarah Bolger), a school girl living in Yokohama in 1963 who longs for her father to answer her flag messages, despite the fact she knows that he died in the war.
With the Olympics coming to Tokyo, Yokohama is all about looking great but when the high school clubhouse is threatened with demolition and Umi meets young idealist Shun (Anton Yelchin), things begin to change for Umi and theirs love in the air.
From up on Poppy Hill is full with young, wide eyed, distracting, absolutely believable love and to make it all the more powerful it’s also loaded with gut wrenching heartache. Not really being able to give much of the game away because the twist in the tale brings the heartache, it was refreshing to see young love depicted in such an honest and personal way. There’s no big romantic clichés here but the subtle gestures are so moving the effect is much more powerful and meaningful.
Umi and Shun are adorable. They echo the excitement of falling in love and not really being sure what it is, while totally feeling its effects. Umi is animated with such tiny gestures at times that you read her body language around Shun and really begin to fall alongside her as she grows closer to Shun. This love story is really the core of the film but it’s not always the focus. Most of the movie spends time with the school kids trying to save their clubhouse. Of course there’s always the air of young romance but the ‘Save Our School’ elements are equally well handled. Good kids, doing good things in polite protest is a whole lot of fun and the characters involved are easy to like, despite their fairly limited screen time.
Goro Miyazaki bleeds all of the emotion he can out of this one. The location is beautiful, his two central characters are a a joy to be around and the general mood here far out reaches the basic 'kids movie' set up some might consider animated movies to cater for. This one is a honest, heartfelt approach to love, there’s legitimate turmoil for the characters (and indeed the audience) and you’ll find yourself yearning to find out about the unknown past here right until the bitter end.
There’s not much in the world of hand drawn animation that looks much better in 1080p HD than modern Ghibli movies and From Up on Poppy Hill does not disappoint. Fresh and clean throughout the image here is frankly gorgeous. The painted backgrounds show off every brush stroke and the character's edges are so sharp that the image just leaps off of the screen it dazzling bright and colourful ways.
There’s a nice depth to the image and some of the lighting used here has a computer assisted sparkle that adds a nice bit of magic to key moments. Open water looks fantastic, gently breezed green foliage even better and the prettiness of the image really adds so much to spirit of the movie. All that and in wonderful popping HD. You can’t ask for much more than that.
The light and fresh score as well as the joyfully cute song additions are all full sounding and the opening theme song has a nice echoy depth to its airy vocals. Dialogue is well placed and sit snugly on top of the specifically placed and crisp sound effects. The real highlights are when the combination of dialogue, sound effects and score fit perfectly together. The balance creates a very alive little world and can often make this rather timid but utterly heart warming sound design really come to life and totally gives Poppy Hill its heart.
The extras begin with the whole movie available in storyboards, which is always great even if it is in a little box.
The ‘Press Conference - Theme Song Announcement’ (39:16 HD) begins with a heartfelt explanation of how work must go on despite Japans recent disasters with their earthquake at the time of the conference.
The ‘Interview with Goro Miyazaki’ (17:36 HD) speaks of the change of setting from the 80s to the 60s and the other changes to the story as well of his love of it.
The ‘Hayao Miyazaki's Staff Speech’ (06:12 HD) takes place after a screening of the film and once again mentions the change in working patterns during the disaster in Japan as well as the challenges of films production given the countries increasing problems at the time.
Next up is ‘Music Video - Summer of Fairwells’ (05:43 HD) as well as the ‘Original Japanese trailers and TV Spots’.
The ‘Yokohama Featurette’ (22:34 HD) gives details of the film’s location and period the film was set in as wel as a more modern look.
The ‘Making of Poppy Hill (English Speaking Cast)’ (21:47 HD) takes a look at the US dub and its excellent voice cast and we wrap up with ‘Studio Ghibli Collection Trailer’ (07:05 HD).
From Up on Poppy Hill felt like somewhat of a remedy to all the hokey love stories we’re bombarded with. Something here really keys in to the real feeling that sneaks up on you when attraction or natural connection kicks in and the pleasant world its set in is a joy, despite it’s darker war torn underbelly. The Blu-ray release is another great Studio Ghibli title, with solid extras and great A/V. This Ghibli flick is simply adorable.
Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable for all
Release Date: 23rd September 2013
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 Japanese, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 English
Extras: Storyboards, Featurettes, Interviews, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Goro Miyazaki
Cast: Tetsurô Sayama, Toshio Suzuki, Chizuru Takahashi, Geoffrey Wexler
Genre: Drama and Romance
Length: 91 minutes
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