Blu-ray Review “From Up on Poppy Hill”

fromuponpoppyActors: Gillian Anderson, Ron Howard, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bruce Dern, Christina Hendricks, Chris Noth
Directors: Goro Miyazaki
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Cinedigm
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Run Time: 91 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

“From Up on Poppy Hill” is the latest Studio Ghibli’s animated film, written by Hayao Miyazaki and directed by Goro Miyazaki, his son. GKIDS and New Video Group, a division of Cinedigm Entertainment are behind this release, which is a change since in the past Walt Disney Entertainment have been released Studio Ghibli’s films. It is a very sweet and simple coming-of-age story taking place in the early 60’s.  The film features a really great English voice cast including Gillian Anderson, Sarah Bolger, Beau Bridges, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bruce Dern, Christina Hendricks, Ron Howard, Chris Noth, Emily Osment, Charlie Saxton and Anton Yelchin. It doesn’t have the same fantasy film of Ghibli’s last film “The Borrower Arrietty” but still very enjoyable in it’s own way.  I have seen this film numerous time now and it only gets better with each viewing.

Official synopsis: Yokohama, 1963. Japan is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the Olympics. The mood is one of both optimism and conflict as the young generation struggles to throw off the shackles of a troubled past. Against this backdrop of hope and change, a friendship begins to blossom between high school students Umi (Sarah Bolger) and Shun (Anton Yelchin) – but a buried secret from their past emerges to cast a shadow on the future and pull them apart.

Cinedigm delivered us a very impressive release with a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack. The 1080p transfer is superb and really shows up Ghibli’s gorgeous animation.  When I watch a film like this, I am always taken back by the details behind the animation like the colors, line work, shading.  It is just amazing. It is polished yet still has this raw feel to it.  The Japanese: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 track really sounds so amazing and really works hand and hand with Satoshi Takebe’s score, which is beautiful. Having seen the film numerous times in Japanese before watching it in English, it was hard for me to pick favorites but with a cast like this it really speaks for itself.

If you want more after the film, don’t worry there is plenty.  In fact the special features include over three hours of bonus materials. We get the film laid out in feature-length storyboards. There is a celebrity cast recording featurette with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. There is an interview with Goro Miyazaki, which is a must watch. There are the original Japanese trailer and TV spots included. There is the music video for the theme song by Aoi Teshima. There is a featurette about Yokohama, exploring the history of film’s location. Exclusvie to the Blu-ray is a “Post-Fukushima Earthquake Staff Speech and Press Conference with Hayao Miyazaki”. My favorite part of this release is the 20-page booklet containing the original project proposal by Hayao Miyazaki and a letter from Goro Miyazaki. Must read for any fan of Miyazaki.

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