From Up on Flag School

"Back in the days."

From Up on Poppy Hill hails as the first full-length animated feature helmed by a father-son combo. The Miyazakis did a pretty good job here, with its usual features that we’ve came to expect of the typical Ghibli production. Even if it’s an adaptation.

The US dub is, as usual, competent. It falls just short of being a really great dub, but I think it suffices quite well nonetheless.

Watching it on debut weekend on the coattails of the NYICFF takes a bit of air out of it because the screening didn’t count for the box office numbers. It’s kind of weird but those screenings are eligible to be watched by festival pass owners (It’s like $250 or something). Maybe that is why they counted separately.

The real angle I have on this movie is that it has a strange cultural bubble that the narrative swims in. My first reaction after finishing the film was “man, I need to get the JP version and rewatch it.” Thankfully, it will make a fun rewatch. The subdued and awkward teenage drama is as cute as quaint can get. I mean, only if Hyouka was even 10% as cute as this. It’s too restrained to catch up to Whisper of the Heart but this might be the very first Ghibli film since Kondo’s masterpiece which attempted at real teenage awkward-laughing-at.

Poppy Hill makes a very strong parallel with Umi’s home at the Coquelicot Manor and the Quartier Latin, one that is made explicit half way through the movie. I guess it’s typical for the movie to help us out in this way.

In Porco, there was a scene (or two?) where you see these shiny American bombers doing rounds in the sky. I wonder if this is how it feels when Poppy Hill shows us its smoky, 1964 landscapes in Yokohama. It’s all this figurative “flag language” that surrounds the film which makes it doubly more interesting if you knew what it spoke.

PS. I wonder if we can say, fairly, that the difference between Miyazaki Sr.’s film and Jr.’s film being the difference between Shun and Oreki.


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