Kokuriko-zaka Kara (From Up on Poppy Hill) is one of the more recent movies from Studio Ghibli, directed by Goro Miyazaki, released in Japan in 2011. Kokuriko-zaka Kara is based on a manga by Chizuru Takahashi and Tetsurō Sayama.
The story is set in the 1960’s in a small seaside town in Yokohama, Japan. Umi Matsuzaki, the main character of the story, is a high school girl who helps her family run a boarding house on top of a hill. Umi’s routine is pretty much the same everyday – she wakes up early to cook breakfast for her family and boarders, then raises signal flags on a flagpole in front of her house as a message to her father, who is a ship captain.
One day after meeting schoolmate and Newspaper Club member, Shun Kazama, Umi becomes interested in helping out with the school newspaper and learns about the student body’s efforts in preserving their historical, yet poorly kept school club headquarters.
Umi’s classmates, acting on her suggestion, decide to clean and renovate the old club house in order to convince school administrators of its historical value. As Umi works on the newspaper and helps with the preservation of the school club house, she finds herself becoming more and more attracted to Shun, who seems to feel the same way for her. However, as get to know each other better, they learn family secrets which may seriously hinder their friendship and budding romance.
Kokuriko-zaka Kara is one of the rare Studio Ghibli films which do not involve any supernatural elements. Though it doesn’t involve any moving or flying castles or strange creatures, the story still has the power to captivate audiences – to draw them into the quaint seaside town, and into the lives and plight of Umi and Shun.
Kokuriko-zaka Kara is a cute, quiet, heart-warming story of strong family bonds, loyalty, young love, community, and school spirit. Its art and animation, is simple, yet beautiful which is characteristic of most Studio Ghibli films.
Movie – Directed by Goro Miyazaki
Studio GhibliPersonal rating: 5/5