The latest from Japan’s leading animation studio, Studio Ghibli, brings us the charming story of From Up on Poppy Hill. Written by Hayao Miyazaki and directed by his son, Goro, the film is a coming-of-age tale about a group of students trying to save their club house from being torn down in the preparation for the 1964 Olympics. In the midst of these students, the story focuses on Umi, a young girl carrying the responsibility of taking care of her family while her mother is away studying in America.

While animated, From Up on Poppy Hill might not be the best bet for kids. The pace is slow and pensive, and the narrative takes a few twists and turns throughout that may need explaining to the younger ones. That being said, if your kids are accustomed to non-American storytelling, they could easily enjoy this one.

As expected, the animation is stunning. No matter how many Studio Ghibli films I see, I am always blown away by the attention to detail, like the way sunlight falls through a window in a narrow hallway, for a romantic example. The magic created through animation and storytelling is a real gift to film lovers everywhere. Paired with an enchanting soundtrack, From Up on Poppy Hill is a delight for the senses.

Like I mentioned, the pace is slow for an animated feature, but it is effective towards building an emotional pull nearing the final act. There is ample time to get to know Umi, and to feel compassion towards her and her struggles. While perhaps teetering on the too dramatic side, situations are always easier to believe in cartoon form. At times, From Up on Poppy Hill may feel like there are too many components in one pot, but by the end, you will be cheering nonetheless.

Is From Up on Poppy Hill Opening Weekend Worthy?

My answer is a resounding yes. While heavy at times, it is still escapist cinema at its finest; a pure joy of a movie.

From Up on Poppy Hill opens at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Friday, March 22, 2013. Check the website for screening information.

More About This Movie

From Up on Poppy Hill  Trailer 

From Up on Poppy Hill  Production Gallery 

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