Joe and Jenny recommend: From Up on Poppy Hill

from up on poppy hillJenny and I have decided we have reviewed quite a few manga series for you to get on with for now so we thought we would guide you through the wonderful world of the animated films by Studio Ghibli for a while. We thought we would start with the latest film to be released on DVD called From Up on Poppy Hill. This film is a coming of age romance that follows the story of Umi who lives and helps in a boarding house with her family in Yokohama, Japan. Her father died on a boat during the Korean War and her mother is a medical student who studies in America and isn’t around much so she has to take a lot of responsibility at an early age. Also when at school, Umi has a boy named Shun leap into her life, literally! This starts an adventure about family, love and fighting for what you believe in.

Joe’s Opinion – I found this film enjoyable to watch but didn’t really have a satisfying ending.  The two story lines that run alongside each other in this film are good but I felt each could have been a film in their own right and having both of them together didn’t allow for enough development in either plot to make an engaging experience. In the school the students have a dilapidated clubhouse called The Latin Quarter which houses all the school’s many clubs. I enjoyed the parts of the film that concentrated on this part of the story, which made me chuckle and also amazed me in the detail that went into the depiction of the clubhouse. The other storyline about Umi’s father was intriguing but it felt unresolved when it brought up the future of what would happen to Umi and Shun.

Jenny’s Opinion – I very much enjoyed the setting of this film, which gave insight into a historical period of Japan I’d never seen before, and the animation was the usual visually sumptuous high standard of Studio Ghibli. The two story lines interweaved interestingly, making for a rich and engaging plot, but I would agree with Joe’s criticism that the ending was a little abrupt and therefore unsatisfying. I am also in agreement that the clubhouse was my favourite part of the film, both due to the stunningly detailed animation and the characterisation of the different school clubs eccentricities. All in all, another wonderful offering from Studio Ghibli, albeit more grounded in the real world than some of the more fantastical settings we’ve been taken to in the past.
If you like this animated film check other Studio Ghibli films such as Whisper of the Heart, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howls Moving Castle which you can reserve on the Swindon Libraries catalogue for free and cost just £1.80 to Hire.


We give the film 4/5 flags!

Tell us what your favourite Studio Ghibli film is and why you love it so much. Please leave comments on our blog or tell us by email at and we’ll post some of your responses in our next blog entry!

Our next entry we will be reviewing another Studio Ghibli film –  Kiki’s Delivery service.

We hope everyone had a great Christmas and will have a fantastic New Year!

Fact from the Know-It-Owls

know it owls

‘Quiet’ and ‘Hush’ designed by Colin Pedley

Did you know…that Studio Ghibli films have often been compared to the works of Disney? With 5 feature films being the highest grossing animated films of all time! It’s not surprising. One of their best known films Spirited Away has made $274 million worldwide. (Source of fact from

[Jenny and Joe work at the Central Library and they LOVE manga and anime! They are going to share their favourite books and films on the Swindon Libraries blog, so watch this space for more great reviews in coming months! ]