After his ambitious directorial debut, Miyazaki Goro goes back to basic with Studio Ghibli's From Up On Poppy Hill
, his first collaboration with his father Miyazaki Hayao, who co-wrote the script. More similar to Whisper of the Heart
than Tales of Earthsea
, Poppy Hill
is a simple schoolyard romance based on a manga by Sayama Tetsuro. Popular young actress Nagasawa Masami (I Wish
) provides the voice for the film's heroine Umi, while V6's Okada Junichi plays her romantic interest Shun. In addition to being a sweet love story, Poppy Hill
is also about preserving memories in the face of modernity.
Despite the production being disrupted by the March 11 disasters, the Miyazakis kept their promise and released the film on time in cinemas, providing much-needed lighthearted entertainment for Japanese audiences. Poppy Hill eventually became the highest-grossing Japanese film of 2011, and it won the Animation of the Year award at the 35th Japan Academy Prize.
1960s, Yokohama. 17-year-old Umi (Nagasawa Masami) lives in a house on a hilltop next to the sea with her grandmother and other boarders. Everyday, she raises a signal flag for passing ships, and schoolmate Shun (Okada Junichi) notices the flag every morning from his father's tugboat. The two eventually meet in school at a protest rally to protect the old Quarter Latin building, which houses all the interest clubs. Umi ends up joining the cause, getting other female students to help Shun and the other students clean up the building. In the process, Umi and Shun develop feelings for each other. However, Umi discovers a shocking secret from the past that threatens to drive them apart.