Well, we began Studio Ghibli month with their first film and now, as it draws to a close, let’s take a look at one of their most recent films. From up on Poppy Hill was written by Miyazaki Hayao and Niwa Keiko with direction by Miyazaki Goro… Wait, the same director as Studio Ghibli’s only bad film, Tales from Earthsea? In fact, Niwa Keiko was partially responsible for writing that travesty too… Maybe they won’t completely fail this time? I mean, Miyazaki Hayao is involved in this one and he does have a history of making films that are, at the very least, decent. Let’s take a look and see what happened with this one.
Our story is about a teenage girl named Umi and a teenage boy named Shun. They meet when Shun does a stupid publicity stunt to try and save the school’s club building from being torn down in favour of a new one. That’s pretty much it. The film is a tweenage romance with a sideplot about saving a building. About the most exciting thing you get are the cleaning montages just because something is actually happening. This film is just dull and tedious. They try to inject some tension with a plot line that interferes with Shun and Umi’s relationship, but the resolution is really obvious within thirty seconds of it being brought up. The predictability of the film is a big part of the problem. There’s no real investment because you know how everything is going to turn out. It may surprise you if you’ve never seen, read or heard the basic plot of a teenage romance. In which case, welcome to Earth. Flee before we take your beloved classics and make so many bad remakes, adaptations and sequels that you always have to make exceptions when expressing your love for them. “I love X… except for the horrendously bad BBC show written by Moffat, the American show that tried to copy it with slightly less crap results, any Hollywood film version, that stupid cartoon where the main character comes out of suspended animation in the far future and that idiotic anime where the protagonist is a dog for some reason.” The romance is just trite and stale. The characters have no real chemistry. They spend roughly ten minutes of screen time together before just deciding they like each other because the plot says so.
I’d say that the main characters have the personalities of twigs, but twigs are more interesting and are part of a greater whole. They’re more like grains of sand, relatively shapeless and insignificant. They aren’t remotely interesting nor do they have depth. The side characters aren’t any better. The major ones being the people from various clubs who are defined by the stereotypes associated with people in that type of club.
The art is gorgeous, just like every Ghibli film. It’s not so good that it’s worth sitting through an hour and a half of complete and utter nothing but it’s really nice and vibrant.
It’s difficult to say how good the cast is. They aren’t really required to do much acting since the characters are so flat. The music is nice and soothing which, when combined with the lack of anything interesting happening, makes it really difficult to stay awake during this film. So, it might make a good cure for Insomnia.
This has no ho-yay.
This movie is really boring. Nothing happens that’s even adjacent to interesting. It’s dull, it drags, it’s predictable and trite. Even if it does have gorgeous art and some nice music, I can’t recommend sitting through it. At least it’s not as bad as Tales from Earthsea. Final rating: 4/10. Well, Ghibli month ended on a bit of a low note. The request queue going into February is Battle Athletes Daiundoukai, Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu, Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge, Shinsekai Yori, One Outs, and Doki Doki Precure. Next week we begin with Battle Athletes.
And one brief announcement. I’ve decided to bring my older reviews over to WordPress so, for a while, I’ll be posting those reviews on Saturday and Sunday. They’re going to be relatively unchanged with, maybe, some new commentary written in red.