by David Lobato, Reporter
Closing our coverage of the Reel Anime 2012 Film Festival (running until the 26th of September) is our review of the fourth and final movie from the line-up, From Up On Poppy Hill. When I sat down to watch this film I wasn’t sure what to expect, as the title itself didn’t really give anything away, apart from providing me with enough information to assume that the film would probably involve some poppies and/or a hill. So I went into it with a relatively open mind, and although my brain didn’t explode with excitement, it was a fun ride.
The film tells the tale of a young girl named Umi and her search for her lost father, or more accurately, her longing for his return. He was the captain of a supply vessel that was lost during the Korean war. Every day she raises signal flags, hoping for the day he will return. This theme becomes the glue that holds the key characters together. She meets Shun, a schoolboy who is campaigning against the demolition of his clubhouse. Soon a strong friendship forms between the two, which as predicted, blossoms into something more. As their bond grows while they are rallying together to save the boy’s clubhouse, they soon find that there are ties and connections that exist between each other’s families. Together they pursue the truths behind the bonds that they have discovered, and unravel the mystery behind their family ties.
With ideals of teamwork, giving without expecting anything in return, humility and honesty, this is a well-told and uplifting story based on good morals, that continuously peaked my curiosity as more questions about Umi’s family ties arose. The characters in the film are also worthy of note, as they are memorable and firmly developed. Although I felt that the film’s pacing was spot-on for the most part, with the plot naturally developing at a suitable rate, the ending was perhaps where I had my only major complaint, as there was a relatively bizarre turn of events that abruptly came in to play before the film reached its conclusion. While I initially felt that this sudden turn of events was slightly ill-fitting, I was ultimately pleased with they way the movie finally came to an end, and was left feeling very satisfied indeed.
From Up On Poppy Hill is an intriguing tale with a lesson about the importance of discovering the truth when confusion arises. Although in my opinion this film may not be likely to win any awards, it is certainly worth watching and I do recommend seeing it, and what better way to see it than as part of the Reel Anime 2012 film festival? There are only a couple of days left, so get you’re act together before it’s too late! Reel Anime 2012 runs in cinemas around Australia until the 26th of September. Head to www.reelanime.com for more details.
ComicsOnline gives From Up On Poppy Hill 3.5 out of 5 crazy philosophy students.
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Note* Japanese audio only, No English audio Story: Late 1970s, Yokohama. 17-year-old Umi (Nagasawa Masami) lives in a house on a hilltop next to the sea with her grandmother and other boarders. Everyday, she raises a signal flag for passing ships. Noticing the flag every morning is her schoolmate Shun (Okada Junichi), who sees it from his father's tugboat. The two eventually meet in school at a protest rally to protect the old Latin Quarter building, which houses all the interest clubs. Umi ends up joining the cause, getting other female students to help Shun and the other students clean up the building. In the process, Umi and Shun develop feelings for each other. However, Umi discovers a shocking secret from the past that threatens to drive them apart.