The NYICFF was over the moon for their screenings of From Up On Poppy Hill, but I had a much more dubious reaction. After all, Goro Miyazaki left a terrible first impression on me with Tales from Earthsea so I wasn’t going in with anything akin to expectations for his newest work. Still, a tiny bit of my heart was hoping he’d redeem himself; I love a good comeback story!
I’m happy to report that From Up On Poppy Hill was able to surprise me over and over again.
Recently Joel White from Fast Karate for the Gentlemen was mentioning on twitter that Studio Ghibli seems to get nothing but hate recently. I have to say that we will just have agree to disagree on the merits of Ponyo as I saw it as a very weak work with some moments of brilliance. But thankfully Joel did not bring up Tales from Earthsea. While Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo might have been weak Goro Miyazaki’s Tales from Earthsea was just a train wreck. It made Goro’s name mud in the eyes of many anime fans. So I had fairly low expectations with From Up On Poppy Hill.
But much like The Secret World of Arrietty it seems that Studio Ghibli is recently been releasing movies to prove that Joel’s theory that the idea that Studio Ghibli is over is a bit premature. From Up On Poppy Hill did quite a bit to make me reassess Goro Miyazaki as a director. Do I think he has hit the heights that his father had in his heyday? No. But he is gone from a director I would actively avoid to someone who I am genuinely interested in. If his movies can remain at this level or even improve I think he actually has a pretty bright future in front of him.