Conclusion: Some will lament the absence of Studio Ghibli's signature fantasy in From Up on Poppy Hill , but I appreciated this simple film as something refreshingly different. This endearing coming-of-age period drama easily won me with the old basic fundamentals of story and characters. Its beautiful 2D visuals didn't hurt either. Goro Miyazaki's second film is something you could easily imagine his father directing.
Excerpt: The overwhelming problem with Goro Miyazaki's films is how much the technical quality of their animation outshines the films themselves. His first feature, Tales from Earthsea , was visually stunning in the fluidity of the character movement and the exacting detail and textures of the environments. But the strengths of the animation were wholly undone by the clunky plot, the platitudinous dialogue, and the lack of imagination in the character design.
From Up on Poppy Hill, Prime Suspect and Frankenstein's Army
Sound & Vision Magazine
30 August 2013
Excerpt: This 2011 production from the esteemed Studio Ghibli is a family affair of the best sort, scripted by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki and directed by his son Goro. It's a fictional tale with a very real backdrop: Yokohama, 1963, as Japan is still picking up the pieces post-World War II while also gearing up for the Tokyo Olympics.
Conclusion: From Up on Poppy Hill doesn't need a badnik or bursts of tragedy when it has such a playful atmosphere, so much energy, and such richly drawn characters. Though this is a story that could very easily have been told in live action, I can't imagine that From Up on Poppy Hill would have left anywhere near as much an impression without the benefit of Studio Ghibli's achingly gorgeous animation.
Conclusion: From Up on Poppy Hill is charming, incredibly sweet natured and ultimately very moving. But like most Ghibli films, it defies established conventions and it moves at its own deliberate pace. My hunch is even some Ghibli fans won't immediately take to this outing since it has no overtly mystical or fantasy elements—but to those folks I would urge giving the film enough time to weave its spell.
Excerpt: Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli is responsible for some of the most gorgeous, imaginative animated fantasy films of all time, yet many of the best Ghibli features have been small, quiet, and grounded in reality. With From Up On Poppy Hill , Miyazaki’s son Goro makes a film more in the tradition of Ghibli’s Only Yesterday and Whisper Of The Heart than the high fantasy of his disappointing 2006 debut, Tales From Earthsea .
Summary: A decade after his critically panned Tales of Earthsea , Goro Miyazaki (son of the great Hayao) has shown some noticeable improvement. Poppy Hill has plenty of charm and character, most noticeably within the students’ Tardis-like clubhouse, and I’ve always been in love with the way the animation studio presents small Japanese communities. However, it’s still a pretty standard outing, vacant of that magical Ghibli allure.