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Castles in the Sky: Masterful Anime from Studio Ghibli

Sunday, August 4, 2013
4:30 p.m. From Up on Poppy Hill
Goro Miyazaki (Japan, 2011)

Recommended for ages 8 and up

(Kokuriko-zaka kara). Hayao Miyazaki’s son Goro follows his fantasy debut Tales of Earthsea (2006) with this realist animated tale of teenage love set in a Japan gearing up for the Tokyo Olympics, a key moment in the country’s embrace of modernity. Change and revolt are in the air, even in a sleepy seaside high school, where the shy but bright Umi meets Shun, an impassioned youth leader desperate to save the students’ ancient clubhouse. Their growing friendship, however, could uncover a family secret that might unite them—or keep them apart. Lovingly recreating the cityscapes and styles of 1960s Japan, From Up on Poppy Hill is modeled more on the realist, Whisper of the Heart-like side of Studio Ghibli than the elder Miyazaki’s fantasy pieces; Goro is here more concerned with capturing a specific period in time, and in showcasing the interpersonal dynamics of families, friends, and neighbors. Coscripted by Hayao, the film is still classic Miyazaki, featuring a young heroine both kind and resourceful. Recovering from yet honoring past events (her father’s death), and looking towards a bright future (she dreams of becoming a doctor, and the independent female boarders at her home include painters, doctors, and other professionals), Umi embodies the hopes of an emerging generation, confident of what can be accomplished.

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa, based on a manga by Chizuru Takahashi and Tetsuro Sayama. Voices by Masami Nagasawa, Junichi Okada, Keiko Takeshita, Yuriko Ishida. (91 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, Color, DCP)