Blu-ray Review: Slight But Visually Striking ‘From Up on Poppy Hill’

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Average: 5 (2 votes)

CHICAGO – As “The Wind Rises” plays film festivals this month and plans for a stateside release (we truly hope) by the end of the year, it has been announced that the Studio Ghibli film will be the last directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki. One of the most important creative voices in the history of cinema is closing the book on his career, although his influence will be felt for decades to come, especially as his son, who directed the recently-released on Blu-ray and DVD, “From Up on Poppy Hill” carries on his legacy. The romantic soap opera story of “Poppy,” co-written by Hayao from a comic book, feels a little slight but Goro certainly understands his father’s emphasis on the visual, crafting a strikingly beautiful film that truly looks great in HD. It won’t be anyone’s favorite Ghibli film but it casts an enjoyable spell for its running time and reminds one of a human art of animation that has been lost in American CGI 3-D animation. Blu-ray rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

Umi Matsuzaki (Sarah Bolger) makes an engaging heroine to carry viewers through “Poppy Hill.” She’s a responsible, sweet, somewhat melancholy girl who worries that her sailor father will never return as she’s been forced into something of a maternal role in her family. “Poppy Hill” is a teen romance with a historical twist, paralleling a girl finding out about love and her own background with a time of great social and cultural revolution in Japan. The story sometimes gets a bit cluttered and the melodrama feels too soapy at times but this is another captivating Ghibli film, made even more so by a strong Blu-ray release, especially the opportunity to watch the film with its original Japanese audio track and subtitles. The care that goes into the voice work on American Ghibli releases makes them much more than simple dub jobs but it’s nice to have the chance to watch the original form. It’s also great to get more special features than foreign films often get, including a speech from the great Hayao himself. We won’t have too many more of those to treasure.

From Up on Poppy Hill was released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 3, 2013
From Up on Poppy Hill was released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 3, 2013
Photo credit: GKIDS

From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and The Secret World of Arrietty, comes another animated triumph. Yokohama, 1963. Japan is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the Olympics. Against this backdrop of hope and change, a friendship begins to blossom between high school students Umi (Sarah Bolger) and Shun (Anton Yelchin). But a buried secret from their past emerges to cast a shadow on the future and pull them apart. From a screenplay by Academy Award® winner Hayao Miyazaki and featuring an all-star English voice cast!

Special Features:
o Feature Length Storyboards
o Celebrity Cast Recording Featurette
o Interview With Goro Miyazaki
o Music Video
o Yokohama Featurette
o Original Japanese Trailers and TV Spots
o 16 Page Booklet Including A Letter By Goro Miyazaki and an Excerpt From o The Original Project Proposal By Hayao Miyazaki
o Speech and Press Conference From Hayao Miyazaki

“From Up on Poppy Hill” features voice work by Sarah Bolger, Anton Yelchin, Gillian Anderson, Christina Hendricks, Aubrey Plaza, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bruce Dern, Chris Noth, Beau Bridges, Isabelle Fuhrman, and Ron Howard. It was directed by Goro Miyazaki and was released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 3, 2013. content director Brian Tallerico

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