From up on Poppy Hill (コクリコ坂から, Kokuriko-zaka Kara)
1963. Umi Matsuzaki is a young girl living in a house overlooking Yokohama harbour. She is a busy and diligent girl who seems popular at school. One day, through the actions of the boys in her school, she meets and slowly strikes up a casual relationship with Shun, a boy who is trying to save the school’s clubhouse. Umi is a lonely girl, missing her mother who is studying in America and longing for her father, who died in the Korean War. Through her friendship with Shun she becomes a main figure in trying to save the clubhouse and also must face some family secrets of her own.
From up on Poppy Hill is one of Studio Ghibli’s ‘realistic’ films, in as much that there are no talking frogs, pilot pigs, witches or even racoons with prominent testicles. It’s a simple story told with care and attention. This is Miyazaki Hayao’s son Goro’s second film he has directed for his father’s company and undoubtedly his best. This kind of film is Ghibli doing what they do best: telling rich stories about families and communities pulling together. While not a stand out classic of the great company, still a fine achievement.