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Sarah Bolger
Anton Yelchin
Christina Hendricks.
Goro Miyazaki.
Hayao Miyazaki
keiko niwa.
Running Time
92 minutes

4 Star Empire Rating
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3 Star Empire Rating

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From Up On Poppy Hill
Mid-range Miyazaki

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Japan, 1963. Orphan Umi (Bolger) lives with her grandma (Hendricks) above a fishing village. The threatened closure of her school's clubhouse brings her together with student journalist Shun (Yelchin).

From Up On Poppy Hill

It's as whimsical as always, but unusually there’s not a shred of fantasy in Goro Miyazaki’s latest Studio Ghibli offering. Instead we get part coming-of-age story and part melodrama, as young Umi (Sarah Bolger) and Shun (Anton Yelchin) negotiate romance, tragedy and the imminent closure of their after-school club. The hand-drawn animation is gorgeous, but that Ghibli hobby horse of progress versus tradition lurks sharply beneath the surface, returning us to a pivotal moment in Japan’s post-War history. It’s touching rather than really moving, but even minor Miyazaki has its charms.

Not on a par with Ghibli's greatest work like Totoro or Spirited Away but not without charms of its own. A solid second effort from Miyazaki Junior.

Reviewed by Owen Williams

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