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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Mild insults like "stupid," "freak," and "old man."
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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.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is an anime film that tweens and teens who've aged out of most Disney animated fare will enjoy. 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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.