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Let me say right off the bat: what I love most is how this movie has that 80's style of movements; almost smooth and yet somewhat interrupted, as though genuinely hand-drawn.
After the international hit movie Arrietty, it's a rather daring move for Studio Ghibli to release a movie so similar in drawing style, yet so much slower in pace. Tempo-wise, it really reminded me of "Tales from Earthsea", but that's where the parallels end. The movie kept me intrigued, even though the story not at all depends on a strong protagonist that faces a serious issue involving an evil antagonist. It just takes you on a sweet and slow adventure, laying out the puzzle piece by piece, like in "Whisper of the Heart", but without a talking cat figurine or anything magic, yet treating you to a few musical songs.
Ghibli movies by this director appear to have one flaw: they don't subtly reference to other Ghibli movies, like an incidental raccoon, cat or airship (correct me if I've just failed to notice it). And I thought not all of the soundtrack combined well with the scenes and was sometimes a bit distracting.
Studio Ghibli movies are art. The beauty of the animation has me in awe. I guess I could compare it to watching a painting for 1,5 hours, and fantasizing an entire story around it myself. From Up on Poppy Hill definitely satisfies in that area. They did great things with steam, fog, sun rays and chopping cabbage. It currently ranks #6 on my list of Ghibli movies.
Update: I have the Japanese Blu-ray, which is just stuffed with awesome bonus material. The most awesome part is the 50+ minute live performance of the soundtrack (Aoi Teshima on vocals and a piano) in a concert room with surround video. (BTW I do appreciate the music, I just don't think it sometimes matches that well with the scenes.)
Such a great little film. I wasn't expecting that kind of content from a Ghibli feature, but it was very memorable. I thought the characters were charming and really cute.
I would say it has one of the best soundtracks of any Ghibli film.
Goro doesn't have his father's ingenius craftyness. This is ok, but not much more. Just a happy family tale
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