Studio Ghibli’s From Up on Poppy Hill is Coming to America!

Every once in a while, the stars align and Japan manages to send one of its animated movies over to America to play in our theaters. More often than not, it’s a Studio Ghibli film, but this should come as no surprise since Studio Ghibli is awesome and pretty much everyone hails them as the Japanese version of Disney.

Just recently I learned that the studio’s latest work, From Up on Poppy Hill, will also be making it abroad. But how does it stack up to what we’ve come to expect from Studio Ghibli? How is Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Goro, handling being a director? Is it a good thing that these movies make it outside Japan? Let’s find out.

From Up on Poppy Hill

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-vfzhfq5JA']

Set in Japan of the 1960s, Poppy Hill tells the story of a high school girl living in a boarding house. She meets a guy from the school’s newspaper club and they decide to renovate the school’s clubhouse to prevent it from being torn down. That’s the big story, but there’s also some family confusion as well as some goofy romance going on, but I don’t want to spoil anything.

Overall, the story is pretty bland and totally unexciting. I know the whole theme is supposed to be about knowing what to hold onto from the past and what to let go of and how to move forward and blah blah blah whatever, but you don’t need a whole hour and a half to get that message across. This movie made me sleepy.

Anyway, I thought this movie was terrible. I’m sorry. It was just so incredibly slow and boring. I didn’t identify with any of the characters and I just couldn’t make myself really care about anything that was going on. The animation was fine, and I enjoyed the music, but I think I would have enjoyed the music a lot more if they made Imaginary Flying Machines covers for all of the tracks.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfKHyVWuOIQ']

I think I’ve decided what I’m going to blame this movie being bad on. Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Goro. While Hayao was involved in this film’s screenplay, Goro was the director. Goro directed one other film so far, Tales from Earthsea, and even Hayao thought that movie was terrible. Well, probably. Here’s a quote from Cracked.com on the matter.

Instead of retiring his name on a high note, director Hayao Miyazaki passed the torch to his son, Goro, who has stepped up with all the competency of a child conducting a board meeting at “bring your developmentally challenged son to work” day.

Now, I didn’t see Tales from Earthsea, but that’s because I heard how bad it was so I had no desire to watch it. It got a 42% on RottenTomatoes.com. 42%! Hayao’s “worst” movie got 82%! Yeesh.

Goro, Goro, Goro…

GoroI sincerely hope that Goro and crew get their act together. I can’t say exactly how much of this all is Goro’s fault, but whatever the deal is, I hope they get it sorted sooner than later. Especially if they’re sending these films over to America. They should be sending the cream of the crop, stuff like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away! Y’know, the good stuff!

I mean, we’ve written about Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki before, and I’ve had nothing but good things to say about them. Some films were better than others, but even the ones I didn’t really enjoy I could understand why others might like them. From Up on Poppy Hill is not one of those movies. I can’t even imagine the pain I would experience from watching Tales from Earthsea, both physical and emotional.

miyazaki“What is that son of mine doing? He’ll never be as good as me! Oh ho ho~”

Let’s just hope that Goro is finding his footing. Poppy Hill might be better than Earthsea, but not by much. Maybe Hayao will smack him around a bit and knock some sense into the boy. The last thing we want is Goro tarnishing the Miyazaki name, and so far he’s heading down that dark and dreary road.

Is it Good that Poppy Hill is Coming to America?

poppy1Well, it’s good but it’s also bad. Poppy Hill is being brought over by a group called GKIDS internationally and StudioCanal in the UK. I think this also says a lot about the quality of the film.

The good Studio Ghibli films that made it abroad that people remember (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo) were all distributed by Disney. Disney made the mistake of picking up Tales from Earthsea and by the looks of it, they learned their lesson. Apparently Disney didn’t want anything to do with Poppy Hill. After seeing the movie myself, I do not blame them at all.

The good thing about this being released internationally is that I think it’s always good when Japan gets some international acclaim and people have a chance to experience these movies that they might not have otherwise been able to. Especially when it comes on the big screen because that’s an experience you just cannot recreate at home.

poppy2“Here, eat this to get rid of the bad taste Poppy Hill left in your mouth.”

However, this movie is so bad that it’s not going to get people excited to bring other movies by Goro/Ghibli out for the world to see. But I mean, hey, I’m just one guy – maybe everyone else will love the movie. Great. But I really doubt it.

And for those brave souls interested, here’s where Poppy Hill is going to be released initially in America.

March 15

  • New York – FC Center
  • New York – Film Society of Lincoln Center

March 22

  • Los Angeles – The Landmark

March 29

  • Chicago – Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema
  • San Francisco – Embarcadero Center Cinema
  • Palo Alto – CineArts @ Palo Alto Square
  • Berkeley – Shattuck Cinemas
  • Boston – Kendall Square Cinema
  • Seattle – Harvard Exit Theatre
  • Minneapolis – Uptown Theater
  • San Diego – Landmark’s Hillcrest Cinemas
  • Long Island – Cinema Arts Centre

So tell me, have you seen Tales from Earthsea or From Up on Poppy Hill? Do you want to? What do you think about how Goro is handling things? Share your thoughts in the comments!

  • EskimoJo

    The animation wasn’t the issue though. The story simply made little sense. Yet, I still enjoyed it! Lol!

  • Caitlin

    To be honest, I’m not sure if I’ll like the movie or not, but I really didn’t like this review. There were barely any pros and cons, no reasons why you couldn’t identify with the characters (which seems to be the main reason you hated it) or anything like that. It seemed like hero worship of Miyazaki and a trashing of his son. Plus, you didn’t talk about how well it went over in Japan (quite well, it seems), and explain why it might not go over well in America even with its popularity in Japan. Not to try to insult you or anything, but this review was something I’d expect out of a friend, not out of someone doing a more or less formal review of a movie. Next time maybe something with a little more explanation would go over better? Best of luck!

  • Josh Leitzel

    Really? That was the most unprofessional review I’ve ever read. All you do is compare Goro to his father the entire time. No one will ever be as good as Hayao, just get over it already. You expected something out of this movie that couldn’t be attained, adventure, fantasy, and maybe a bit of action. That’s not what “slice of life movies” are like. You want Imaginary Flying Machine’s loud and unsettling tracks to be in the film? They’re very well done but they wouldn’t fit a Studio Ghibli film at all. Then you complain about the story being boring and the characters not being relatable, and you go on to blame Goro for that? Hayao was the one who wrote it, if anybody should be blamed here it’s him.

    So you say you refuse to watch Earthsea because of it’s Rotten Tomatoes rating? Are you incapable of forming your own opinion on movies and have to rely on a website that has no connection whatsoever to your personal opinions to help you out? Hayao didn’t say he thought it was bad, he said it “was made honestly, it was good.” Get your facts straight. On another note, From Up on Poppy Hill currently has an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, so if you’re going to judge a film by that website’s rating then you should have liked this film. And if you disagree and say that that doesn’t reflect your own opinions then why did you let the RT rating for Earthsea reflect them? So by critical standards apparently Poppy Hill is better than Miyazaki’s worst (but still great) movie. That’s a great achievement anyway you look at it. Goro obviously improved vastly upon Earthsea.

    Now I have to comment on the things you said about Disney. Disney didn’t refuse to pick this film up because it was bad, it was because of how it supposedly wouldn’t appeal to mainstream audiences like Arrietty and Ponyo did because of it’s plot being so ingrained in Japanese history and culture. Disney may not even pick up their next two films either. Not because they will be bad (I hope you don’t make that mistake again), but because they’re set in Japanese history and one is based off of a very Japanese folktale. Disney doesn’t roll with films like that. They do want to make money on the films after all. I’m sure if this was marketable they would have loved to distribute it.

    “But I mean, hey, I’m just one guy – maybe everyone else will love the movie. Great. But I really doubt it.”
    It’s ironic because almost everyone else actually does love the movie. So I guess you are alone in your thoughts.

  • Josh Leitzel

    That’s top 5 Ghibli for me. Beautiful score, great characters, mature themes dealing with death and extinction. And its got a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • Josh Leitzel

    ಠ_ಠ Arrietty? Bad?

    http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_secret_world_of_arrietty/

    Many people would disagree with you.

  • Common Sense

    Just saying, he has, “feeder of dinosaurs,” as a title…

  • Eduardo

    Wow you’re a big time hater, what in the world makes you think Hayao would ever say anything like that, or, ‘smack around’ his son? Have you not seen any of his films? What makes you think Hayao would have that type of personality? And seriously, bagging on a movie you haven’t even seen yet just because of hate ratings? Your credibility here is 0%, meanwhile 100% bias and completely opinionated. Tales of EarthSea was beautiful, could of used a bit of work direction wise, but seriously you’re terrible for Media, go get smacked up by your father, prick.

  • Neeka

    I haven’t seen it yet but I’m betting the voice acting is a whole lot better than the Disney/american voice acting in both Ponyo and Arriety. terrible choices, I cant bare to sit and watch the american dubbed versions. I think I’ll watch the UK version from now on. So i don’t think Disney not choosing this movie is a bad thing but a good one because personally I’m a big fan of Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki’s films but after watching some of the american dubbed ones i was slightly turned off from watching any of the newer movies. If I hadn’t seen his older movies like Howl’s moving castle or Spirited Away i would have never liked Studio Ghibli.

  • gvktyulh

    I actually loved tales of earthsea. i loved the characters and the plot. Even if the message was a little cheesy that didn’t ruin it for m at all. it was just another beautifully animated film with adventure and intrigue.i would recommend it. and i will definitely see poppy hill.

  • Helen Kirifides

    Hey, I like this Imaginary Flying Machines stuff. It’s pretty good. They should do the real theme songs to animes if they haven’t already (they probably have). ^__^

  • http://foxibiri.tumblr.com/ foxibiri

    Wow, I wasn’t going to watch this movie because you gave it such a bad review, but I’m glad I watched it, because as always Ghibli did a wonderful job and it was a really sweet…

  • RiEA

    I really liked Tales from Earthsea! You should at least give it a try! Many people like Nausica Valley of the Wind but I really don’t like that movie. I think it’s boring. I guess it all just comes down to personal taste. My ultimate favs from Studio Ghibli are Kiki’s delivery service, Spirited Away, Porco Rosso, & The Cat Returns. I watched Poppy Hill last night. I thought it was a nice and sweet film. It was of course different from the regular Studio Ghibli films but I think that is what stood out for me. It was more of a mature theme compared to the other films. I think that is why Disney didn’t take part in this movie. Disney’s main audience are Children and this movie wasn’t really a kids movie. They wouldn’t even understand it. I wasn’t bored at all throughout the film and it had some cute funny moments. I really wanted them to end up together, but when I found out they were siblings, it really made me feel bad for them! I got really into it b/c I wanted to know the secret behind their father and if they would ever get together or just stick to being friends. Overall, I really liked it and I don’t care what people say about it, I thought it was a great movie! :)

  • Guest

    Although it wasn’t a fast paced movie like Spirited Away, I still found it enjoyable. Ghibli/Miyazaki Movie’s tend to vary in speed some are fast like Spirited Away mentioned previously, some are in the middle like Howl’s Moving Castle and some are slow like this one. It’s a movie which you need to watch in a calm mind and not expect any action or much adventure but a story which is unravels itself more and more.
    The scenery didn’t have the usual energy that Ghibli/Miyazaki Movies have, it went for a more realistic look and story. I found it interesting that the story took place in post WWII Japan and the underlying tone of the effects of the war were seen in the story like with Umi and Shun’s fathers and in the background like when they visit Tokyo and you see construction work in one scene. However the focus wasn’t completely on the war and the after effects but the characters moving on from the war while keeping something from the past.

    I’ll admit it wasn’t as good as Spirited Away but it was great in it’s own way.

  • Felix Nelson

    Although it wasn’t a fast paced movie like Spirited Away, I still found it enjoyable. Ghibli/Miyazaki Movie’s tend to vary in speed some are fast like Spirited Away mentioned previously, some are in the middle like Howl’s Moving Castle and some are slow like this one. It’s a movie which you need to watch in a calm mind and not expect any action or much adventure but a story which is unravels itself more and more.
    The scenery didn’t have the usual energy that Ghibli/Miyazaki Movies have, it went for a more realistic look and story. I found it interesting that the story took place in post WWII Japan and the underlying tone of the effects of the war were seen in the story like with Umi and Shun’s fathers and in the background like when they visit Tokyo and you see construction work in one scene. However the focus wasn’t completely on the war and the after effects but the characters moving on from the war while keeping something from the past.

    I’ll admit it wasn’t as good as Spirited Away but it was great in it’s own way. However I’m more excited for DBZ: Battle Of Gods!