“I was expecting more talking cats” was what one of the people I went to see From Up On Poppy Hill came out of the film saying. Studio Ghibli have become famous in the west for surreal fantasy Anime like Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. What a lot of westerners don’t seem to know is that they are also famous for making emotionally charged films that are set in the real world.
There are no talking cats in this film, no sentient fires, no giant forest spirits just people. And that’s not a bad thing.
From Up On Poppy Hill is based on a Japanese serialized comic by Chizuru Takahashi and is the story of a high school kid in 1960’s Japan, the Olympics are just around the corner and the school club house is being threatened with demolition. Also she’s fallen for a boy with whom circumstances arise that make her feelings a little awkward.
It’s a whimsical tale, heart warming at parts and laugh out loud fun at others, the incidental characters make this film as much as the leads, I think I could watch an entire movie starring the head of the philosophy club, or the bespectacled artist sister of the main character.
If you come into this film expecting talking cats, you are going to be disappointed, the only magic in this film is in the interaction between the characters. If you come into the film expecting character growth, good story telling and an insight into what it was like to be a kid in 1960’s Japan, then I don’t think you will be walking away from it in the slightest bit disappointed.