Director: Goro Miyazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Hayao Miyazaki will always be a legend in the world of animation; he helped establish Studio Ghibli, one of the best animation studios in the world and is responsible for directing and animating many of their wonderful films. Some of my favorites are Spirited Away (2001), Nausicaa of theValley of the Wind (1984) and Ponyo (2008), but it’s unfair to name only three of his films, because he’s made so many good ones! I’d say that they are all my favorites. Sadly Hayao Miyazaki is working less and less these days, probably due to his old age. His last directorial effort was The Wind Rises (2013). The good thing about Miyazaki is that he is one of those directors who keeps making excellent films no matter his age, unlike some directors who kind of “lose it” in their last days. But it looks like he’s working less and less all the time. Thankfully, his son Goro Miyazaki has taken the reins of studio Ghibli and has already produced two animated features: Tales from Earth Sea (2006) and the film I’ll be reviewing today From Up on Poppy Hill (2011). Does Goro Miyazaki have the same ability as his father to create worlds of wonderment and endearing tales that touch the heart?
From Up on Poppy Hill is a story that takes place within a school in Yokohama, Japan. On one side of the school it’s the girls and on the other side, the boys. On the boys’ side, the school is threatening to close down a building which serves as a club house for the boys. This building means a lot to the students because it’s like a mini university within the school; it’s their own private little world. It’s where all the little geniuses get together to explore their favorite school courses. Even the school newspaper is written and printed there. This desire to save the club house brings the school together; boys and girls join forces in order to save this ancient building. In the midst of all this, we have a romance brewing between a boy and a girl who come together in an effort to discover their roots and uncover who they really are.
But I guess what makes this film so ‘Miyazaki’ is that Hayao Miyazaki wrote it, and Goro Miyazaki directed it, so we get a double dose of Miyazaki on this one, father and son working together to give us an extra Miyazaki film! Even though the Miyazaki’s make films with a happy nature about them, within the context of the film, they also tackle serious issues. Spirited Away (2001) is all about a little girl learning to accept her responsibilities in life and pulling her own weight in the world. From Up on Poppy Hill also stars a little girl (another Miyazaki staple) who misses her father, a sailor who drifted away into sea one day and never returned. Is he still out there? Will he ever return? She handles all these issues while also falling in love with one of the boys in her school. There’s this beautiful scene where they are both riding a bike together through town during a cold, rainy evening, I loved it. I don’t know what it is about the Miyazaki’s, but they know what warms our hearts, and they put that into their movies. I think what attracts me the most to their films is that warmth. Simply seeing people being good to each other as opposed to the harshness we sometimes confront in our daily, real world lives. But then again, I think the real world can be the way it’s represented in these films even if they might be a bit idealistic at times. So what, I’m with the Miyazaki’s, I say let’s dream big about what humanity is capable of becoming. Go out there today and be randomly good to someone, simply because.