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As a film from the famous Ghibli production studio, “From Up on Poppy Hill” must be the best choice for those who are looking for a beautiful movie with both photo and content.

The love of school age is always a topic that makes them flutter when turning on the screen. “From Up on Poppy Hill” a rare Ghibli work on the subject. Directed by Miyazaki Gorō, son of legendary filmmaker Miyazaki Hayao. The main theme of the film is the love between Umi and Shun, a love that is both beautiful and complex.

The journey to light up “From up on Poppy hill”

From the  beginning, this was a huge challenge for Miyazaki Goro, the wounded son who suffered an invisible pressure from his father, Miyazaki Hayao, who brought his life to the works. associated with our childhoods such as: Spirited Away, Howl’s moving castle,  My neighbor Totoro, … Everyone expected that he was “the second Hayao”, and that expectation overcame on his shoulder a huge burden. Until his debut Tales from Earthsea was released to the public, despite being well-received and successful in terms of sales, it was a failure when the work received a lot of words. Disparaging comes from critics. And when he decided to do his second animation, but this time he was making the movie with his father, Miyazaki Hayao. This unique father-son combination led to the birth of one of the Ghibli works that I consider to be worthy of viewing, From up on the poppy hill.

This is the highest-grossing Japanese film of 2011 with the proceeds of 4.46 billions yen.If you haven’t seen From Up on Poppy Hill, enjoy the movie now. If you have seen this movie or don’t care about the spoiler, Let’s start now.

Main content

Set in 1963, in the port city of Yokohama, near Tokyo. The drama revolves around 2 main characters Umi and Shun. Umi is a 16 years  old girl, energetic and courageous. She lives with her grandmother and two children in the family building, an old hospital that has been renovated to become a hostel for several girls. Umi’s daily jobs are cooking, cleaning, looking after the children and running the building while her mother is in America. The building is located on Kokuriko Hill. Every day, to commemorate her late father, who was a captain who died in the Korean War, Every morning she pulls colored flags that carry the message of asking for a safe journey for each ship.

Kazama Shun – a male student at the same school as Umi, is seen as the hero by a stunt performance to attract interest in the school newspaper – the club he joined after school. Wanting to get Shun’s signature, Sora – Umi’s sister asked her sister to come to the Quartier Latin. It is a very old building and is also the site of historical events and full of club memories. Here, Umi watched Shun and his friends devote themselves to keeping the building in danger of being dismantled. Realizing the sagging, old building of the building, Umi came up with an initiative to call the girls to come clean and renew it together. 

They gradually became close to helping each other in everything. Then one day in a meeting at the house on the top of the hill, they accidentally discovered they have the same bloodline. When Shun avoided Umi, after demanding, Umi also discovered that the two were siblings.

They  decided to hide their feelings and continue to be friends, and then one day, when the sun was still shining in the green bushes, Umi’s mother returned. It was also when Ryoko revealed that Shun’s biological father was Tachibana Hiroshi – the second man in the photo. In 1945, Tachibana died in a shipwreck accident. Shun’s mother passed away after giving birth to him, and relatives all died during the US atomic bombing on Nagasaki. Ryoko was unable to adopt Shun because she was pregnant with Umi, and was currently a medical student. Yūichirō issued a birth certificate for Shun in his name so that he would not have to become an orphan in the tumultuous post-war years that followed. Shun was eventually adopted by the Kazama couple. After being verified by Captain Yoshio, they rejoiced … not only because from now on being together and not worrying anymore … 

The film’s success is not only based on the content, but also on the profound meaning that is meticulously incorporated in the movie


  1. Image of  dynamic and enthusiastic young people


The fact that the Quartier Latin was about to be dismantled at the behest of the district president was a challenge for the students living in the clubs in this building. Young students who are still day and night diligently devote their youth to research projects, they learn and cultivate everything outside of school, they do not hesitate to choose the difficult path of resisting directives to pursuing what they think is right.

They are willing to devote all their energies to renovating the building, which is not an individual’s work but a collective work of a team with so many enthusiastic people working. They try to the last minute, with only a little hope, the students here still make efforts to create opportunities, not easily surrendered. The trio of  Umi, Shun, and Mizunuma together went to Tokyo to meet the chairman, waited patiently and bravely asked the president to visit the building before executing his dismantling instructions.

Young people working together to save the club can be a metaphor for the country’s rebirth. Together With other students, they are the embodiment of the future Japan, enthusiasm and determination, enthusiasm and optimism, passionate love and foolish youthful aspirations. touched and inspired those of the same generation. The film recreates the spirit of a time that helped that generation to rise up to revive the country, heal the wounds of war in the past, protect and preserve traditional values.

 “From Up on Poppy Hill” can be said to be one of the most “Japanese” films of the Ghibli studio.Not only because the port area’s street space is faithfully reproduced in every small detail/, but also because of the strong and resilient spirit hidden in the characters’ personalities. They embody the country with determination, youthful enthusiasm and optimism for the future.

  1. History lessons are appreciated without being cliché

Every effort comes from the thought: “… There will be no future for those who always talk about the future but forget the past …” that Shun raised in an argument between students. One detail I really like in the movie is the image of everyone singing solemnly and singing the national anthem of Japan. Never before has the atmosphere of national pride exploded so deeply, it crept into the consciousness of each student. Everything they are fighting for seems to be for the noble purpose of preserving and promoting historical and cultural values.

  “Eliminating the old means erasing the memory of the past”

Actually, this statement by Shun is very correct. Always remember that history is the connection between the future and the past, there is the past, the present, and the present, the future. Thanks to the cultural identities, customs, monuments, and historical records, we can look back on our own country’s past and take it as a lesson to rise later. 

Even the girls who do not join the club in the building, still spend time, effort and enthusiasm to renovate it, to give the Quartier Latin a new interface, with the desire for prices. Historical values ​​are preserved.

The story of a group of young people fighting together to protect the old clubhouse building /with sacred memories of generations of seniors is a metaphor for Japan in its renovation towards development. /Still fighting to preserve precious traditional values. /Through these activities, they met and gradually a love between them began to arise …

  1. The pure love of the young couple

Actually, Shun still notices and responds to the signals that Umi sends to her father every day, but because her garden is out of view, Umi has not noticed it for a long time. The author of the poem about the girl pulling the flag on the top of the hill is also written by Shun for Umi. We can feel the sincerity and very cute before the subtle vibrations integrated. The scene of Umi holding his hand during the show, the scene of Shun passing Umi down the hill to buy some evening preparations, the scene where the two of them go home together and discuss the upcoming exam, or simply keep quiet and intently together. After completing the school newspaper, all the videos are lovely and gentle.

“I like you, Shun, even though we are bloodline, even if you are my brother, my feelings won’t change”  Umi’s words in the movie.

Love is like a Rose, sometimes sleep quietly, like Umi once buried in her heart … there is also a compromise between the pain, so go on or stop … /maybe expect peace , when the waves are quiet, the sea is together …/ and sometimes simple, reunited after days away. /Far away from war, distant because of obstacles, distant because of painful feelings … /but in the end, it will be as sweet as a child’s sleep, still meeting.

  1. Family affection is always warm

Umi’s memories of her father are still standing, as evidenced by the flags she sends every day to inform her father at sea about the way back home. She still loves her father even though she is doubting Shun is his son. Or Shun’s adoptive father, who insists he always loves him like his own son, is willing to find ways to let Shun know the identity of his deceased father.

Both Shun and Umi are poor children who lost great fathers because of the war, but still cherish and are happy with their current family.

General conclusions

From Up on Poppy Hill, a work from Ghibli never disappoints from image to sound. The poetic and artistic scenes have always been the specialties for each of us, the films to feel the life, the daily activities from the  beginning of the film, combined with the melodies from the composer Takebe Satoshi, has created an extreme … peaceful atmosphere. 

See and feel the daily beauties of life, love and cherish our values, and constantly strive to dedicate living in accordance with the youth we currently have.


Although building a love story between two high school students in the most pure, sweet and vague way, From Up on Poppy Hill still makes us wonder, is it the ideal type of love, when two  people have opposite personalities but a common desire?

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