From up on Poppy Hill



Inspiring, romantic coming-of-age tale about '60s teens.
  • Review Date: March 17, 2013
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 91 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie encourages friendship, commitment, and sticking up for what you believe in. First love is portrayed as momentous and full of awkward and sweet little moments. Despite their youth, the teens are able to rally together and appeal to the government about their beloved clubhouse.

Positive role models

Umi, Shun, and their friends all rise to the occasion to lobby and demonstrate and appeal to the government officials to restore and save their historic clubhouse from demolition. Umi is extraordinarily mature and takes care of her home business, her siblings, and her schoolwork while her mother is studying overseas. Shun is a very gentlemanly toward Umi.


Discussion of how two fathers died during the Korean War. A boy purposely jumps out of a window and into a pool of water. He ends up hurting his hand.


High schoolers Umi and Shun share an instant connection and flirt, ride a bicycle together, touch hands, admit they have feelings for each other, and eventually even declare their love (which has a shadow cast upon it when it's suggested they may share a familial connection). Whenever they're flirting, their cheeks get rosy and flushed. Miki jokes about inviting "really cute boys" to dinner. Various teens blush in the presence of the opposite sex.


Mild insults like "stupid," "freak," and "old man."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adult women share a bottle of alcohol (which Umi, 16 or 17, is allowed to take part in). They don't allow Sora (who's probably around 14) to have any. Some images of smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that From up on Poppy Hill, which was directed by Goro Miyazaki (son of legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki), doesn't have much in the way of iffy content, but the coming-of-age plot, period setting, and some of the themes might be too mature for younger kids to understand or appreciate. Set right before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the movie centers on a teenage protagonist whose mother is abroad, leaving her to take care of her family-owned boarding house, her two younger siblings, and her school obligations. There's a strong romantic plot point (including hand holding and a declaration of love), as well as intrigue about a father's infidelity, suggestions of possibly incestuous feelings, and the circumstances of how two men died. The movie's teens are admirable for banding together to save their school's historical clubhouse from demolition. Some drinking and incidental smoking; language includes mild insults.

What's the story?

In 1963 Yokohama, Japan, Umi (voiced by Sarah Bolger) is a junior in high school who has a lot of responsibility: She runs her family's boarding house, takes care of her younger siblings, and makes time for her schoolwork while her mother studies abroad in the United States. Her father was presumably lost at sea during the Korean War. One day, Umi has a formative encounter with classmate Shun (Anton Yelchin), one of many boys trying to save their school's historical clubhouse from being demolished and replaced in the lead-up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. As Umi and Shun get closer, they help rally boys and girls to protest the government's decision. And they must deal with the surreal possibility that they might, in fact, share the same father.

Is it any good?


Although FROM UP ON POPPY HILL doesn't feature any magical elements like most of Studio Ghibli/the Miyazaki family's anime classics, this period coming-of-age tale still follows a strong female protagonist and a sophisticated, educational plot that older kids and tweens will appreciate. Not only are there cultural lessons in the story (most young people probably have no idea how much preparation goes into renovating a city for the Olympics), but Umi is also an admirable, mature heroine who's smart and sweet and happy to discover a kindred spirit in Shun.

The slightly off-putting subplot -- in which it seems there's a possibility that Umi and Shun, so obviously smitten with each other, are actually half brother and sister -- is something that tweens might not fully catch, but teens will (even though all ends up just fine in the end). Studio Ghibli never disappoints, and director Goro Miyazaki is ably following in his legendary father's footsteps with an anime film that tweens and teens who've aged out of most Disney animated fare will enjoy.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about anime movies and how they compare/contrast to other forms of animation. How does From up on Poppy Hill differ from anime films that involve more magical/spiritual elements?

  • How does the movie depict adolescent life in 1960s Japan? What did you learn about the cultural differences and similarities between Japan and where you live?

  • Did the subplot about a possible family tie between Umi and Shun seem confusing for younger kids?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 15, 2013
DVD release date:September 3, 2013
Cast:Christina Hendricks, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sarah Bolger
Director:Goro Miyazaki
Genre:Family and Kids
Run time:91 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild thematic elements and some incidental smoking images

This review of From up on Poppy Hill was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 8 and 10 year old Written bykhancock0 May 21, 2013

Uplifting, engaging story with beautiful animation

This is a beautifully animated story about maintaining traditions while also embracing the future, and about the power of young people when they are dedicated to a cause. It takes place in post WWII Tokyo, where the adults are trying to move forward while the young people (early high school age) want to keep their old but beautiful clubhouse. They kids eventually persuade the adults. The colors are gorgeous and the characters interesting in their independence and sense of responsibility--the lead girl gets up early to cook for the boarders in her home while her mom works in the US. They are positive role models. There's a bit of romance. The setting gave us an opportunity to talk about WWII and Japan. My 8 and 10 year old girls loved it and want to see it again.
Adult Written bymimijunebug April 6, 2013

Good Job Studio Ghibli

I think that it is romantic and I think Studio Ghibli put a lot of hard work into it!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 5, 7, and 12 year old Written byalanteew May 8, 2013

Another Ghibli home run

A spectacular film beautifully animated, with solid, decent characters and a moving story. Not for adrenaline junkies.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex


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