I do not care for animation; even as a child I found it boring and enervating. If any film could convert me to the genre it is “From Up On Poppy Hill”; it is an enchanting tale set in 1963, Yokohama, Japan. “Umi” our seventeen-year-old heroine runs a boarding house with an exquisite view of the sea, aided by her grandmother, while her mother studies in the United States; her father’s ship was a fatality of the Korean War; everyday Umi raises flags, saluting sailors, honoring their valiant profession; yearning for a father, consumed by the depths.
“Shun” a student activist, exercises his crush on Umi by writing an article in the school newspaper about her daily “flag” exploits. What ensues is pure captivation; these childlike adults are thinkers, visionaries, inspirational in saving a soon- to- be demolished, historical building; the hotbed of their political, archaeological, philosophical, literary “think tank”; they are wedded to the future but refuse to be divorced from the past; how utterly refreshing watching youthful aspirants, searching for fruition within the legitimate confines of their society.
“From Up on Poppy Hill’s” genius resides not in its universality, which it has in abundance; but its power to transcend cultural disparities; the children are Japanese, but with eyes as round as any Westerners’; all the signage, script is in Japanese; markets genuinely resonating the pungent scents pulled daily from the Sea of Japan. Umi and Shun riding and running through the streets, like winged angels fervently undeterred in their quest; remarkably these beautiful animates win your respect, tears, love.
Voluminous applause for Japanese “Studio Ghibli” for gifting audiences an ebullient, spirited, vibrant gem of animation!
FOUR STARS !!!!