From Up on Poppy Hill 2011 movie

From Up on Poppy Hill – The Endless Legacy of Miyazaki family

There is no more pure and innocent form of love than young adolescent romance, as we see among the protagonists of this splendid 2011 animated film, From Up on Poppy Hill.

It is a touching and delicate story that reaffirms the talent of Gorô Miyazaki, the brilliant son of the famous master Hayao Miyazaki, in his second directorial effort after his already interesting debut with Tales from Earthsea.

It all begins with young Umi, a 16-year-old student living on a hilltop covered with poppies, with the other women guests in her home.

Every day, she hangs nautical signal flags on a pole in honor and memory of her father, a sailor who died during the war, while her mother worked as a researcher in the United States.

All in all, her life is happy and quiet until one day she meets Shun, a boy a year older, at a student demonstration protesting the principal’s plan to tear down an old building, the so-called Quartier Latin, a historic meeting place for the various school clubs.

The girl begins to help her new friend publish his small newspaper, assisting him in his work after he injures his hand, and she also succeeds in getting the other girls involved in cleaning up and restoring the old building.

As their bond deepens, Shun and Umi find themselves grappling with a shocking revelation-a photograph that hints at a shared parentage, potentially making them siblings.

At that point, misery and sorrow oppress them because they are still in love despite being close blood relatives, just while the hopes of saving Latin Headquarters seem futile.

Hence, the other students sent Shun and Umi to Tokyo to talk to Chief Executive Tokumaru, hoping he would come watch their hard work and convince them to cancel the demolition.

While they wait for Tokumaru‘s decision, an old truth about their families emerges that could offer them new hope for their love.

The Miyazaki japanese animation legacy

Just as this story suggests, there are legacies to protect and continue at any cost, such as Hayao Miyazaki’s scepter as an animation master and his unforgettable fairy tales, which are based on simple sentiments, childlike and pristine imagination, and the allure of technological innovation combined with a deep respect for nature.

From Up on Poppy Hill is a movie that arrived in theaters in 2011, just a couple of years before the great Hayao announced his official retirement, although he would return in 2023 for one last magical experience with The Boy and the Heron.

Gorô Miyazaki proudly continues his father’s legacy in Japanese animation, which is obviously not an easy challenge because Hayao is one of those geniuses born once in a generation.

However, Gorô makes his father’s pacifist spirit of love and life his own, painting this story with Studio Ghibli’s usual excellent style.

The narrative is permanently suspended between dream and poetry through the young and innocent eyes of the main characters, a boy and a girl who have their whole lives ahead of them and believe they have finally found love.

But mocking fate brings upsetting news for them, ruining everything before it even begins and leaving their feelings on edge until the exquisite narrative twists in the finale.

Equally beautiful is the atmosphere of playful, joyful freedom in the school and the students who live and love art and science, driven not by careers or money but by a simple desire to learn and leave something to those who will come after them.

A portrait of 1960s Japanese society living in the everyday moments of the two lovers’ families, simple and poor workers without conceit but with the dignity of ordinary people who can hold their heads high against all kinds of adversity.

How to be solid without being a genius

It is no coincidence that this film is about preserving the past for the new generations and families of the 1960s.

The old and decaying Quartier Latin symbolizes both change and historical continuity, where we revisit the director’s love of Japanese art and culture, which his father built up in animation imagery over the decades.

Quartier Latin thus becomes a fun Tower of Babel pulsing with life and energy, a magical hub where students rediscover themselves and meet others, starting with the dilapidated building that no one has taken care of for years and that the jurisdiction wants to destroy to make way for “so-called” progress.

However, as the students say during their assemblies, progress does not mean forgetting the past, just as the same past does not prevent the protagonists from being able to love each other despite the chance of being direct relatives.

A family that is born and then separated in the shadow of World War II, whose horrors and violence we never see, but we do see the effects it had on the population among the families of soldiers who died at the front and the survivors of the bombings that ended, as we all know, with the relentless devastation of nuclear weapons.

But, as in the best fairy tales, from the ashes of death, life is reborn, and the love of this new youth is a feeling so strong that it can withstand anything.

So, too, does Studio Ghibli survive even after the farewell of the great Hayao Miyazaki, especially considering that From Up on Poppy Hill is a movie that was a huge international success in 2011, grossing over $60 million worldwide.

Indeed, we can all identify with this magnificent journey back to 1960, when everything was more straightforward and truer, despite our different cultures, and even though we may live on the other side of the world from this faraway, romantic look at Japan.

From Up on Poppy Hill 2011 movie
Amazon Prime Video
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