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April 26th, 2013

Movie Review - From Up On Poppy Hill

From Up On Poppy Hill

Starring: Sarah Bolger, Anton Yelchin, Gillian Anderson, Christina Hendricks, Aubrey Plaza, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bruce Dem, Charlie Saxton, Chris Noth, Beau Bridges, and more.

Directed by: Goro Miyazaki Screenplay by: Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa Original Story by: Tetsurō Sayama Based on the Comics by: Tetsurō Sayama and Chizuru Takahashi Cinematography by: Atsushi Okui Original Music by: Satoshi Takebe

Premise: Yokohama 1963 - The 1964 Tokyo Olympics looms in the horizon and Japan is in a mood for change. But to Umi Matsuzaki, change is the last thing she wants. And to her surprise, she finds out she's not the only one who feels this way. The boys using the Latin Quarters as a clubhouse want to save the structure from the wrecking ball and progress. Yet all their efforts seem in vain, until Umi gets dragged into the issue despite herself and gives Shun Kazama an idea that might just work to save it. (Rated PG)


1) Voice Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Sarah Bolger and Anton Yelchin are utterly adorable as the voices for the very private Umi and Shun. Everyone else added great dimensions to the wide variety of characters in the film. Nicely done!

2) Artwork/Animation - Total Thumbs Up: Ghibli Studios never disappoints. Their unique style and gorgeous painted backdrops are always a delight to look upon. Their attention to detail is incredible. The audience will feel transported back in time to Japan during 1963.

There were a couple of hiccups that surprised me - less variation in the faces, and definitely in the hairstyles - so much so I got confused as to who was who a few times. There was also a scene where four sailors were waving at the kids, and the smaller version of the two sets of men, was an exact copy of the larger group and the arms moved in sync. Hopefully that's just an accident and not a sign of things to come.

On the other hand, the gorgeous waves, the sky shots, the city/street views, and the amazing sequence when they relayed the ship explosion late in the film, easily overshadowed these rare flaws.

3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: Though animated, this story is not for young kids. It's a coming of age adult tale about the twists and turns in the lives of Umi and Shun as well as their classmates. Unlike a lot of the other Studio Ghibli films, there isn't any magic or cute creatures to appeal to the younger kids. Fifteen year olds and higher will understand more of what's going on and be interested in where the plot and budding romance is going, but much younger than that and they probably won't enjoy it.

Several themes run through the film - the past and why it should be respected, the fact change is inevitable but that it doesn't always make it right, sometimes it's good to look toward the future, and how a small idea can create a giant spark in others.

One of my husband's favorite parts of the film (to my amazement, he enjoyed the movie even more than I did) was how a certain situation actually allowed the characters to speak of things they would have fought a lot longer before revealing them to one another. Funny how things work sometimes.

Conclusion: Another fun film from Studio Ghibli, but one that won't be appreciated by the younger kids. A great look at Japan in the 60's and what those with a will can accomplish.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Paying Full Price To See It Again. He really, really liked it!)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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