On Day 4, I watched From up on Poppy Hill. You’ll be amused to learn that I did not find an English sub or dub and had to watch it raw. Despite having only a low intermediate knowledge of Japanese, I never felt lost while watching the plot or listening to the dialogue. That the themes of this movie revolved around basic things like family, friends, love, and young people striving for independence helped.
That the animation imitated an older style (it felt like I was watching something from 2001, not 2011) added a nice touch to the story. The images of the ships and the waterfront were beautiful, but I also enjoyed the scenes of crowded city streets. All in all, the backgrounds do a nice job of immersing the viewer in that time and place.
The heroine was very likable. People often demean the idea of women working as homemakers, but Umi’s daily routine of preparing meals for her relatives and otherwise keeping the house in order comes off as very admirable. Umi completely steps into the shoes of her mother and makes the house a home. This contribution can’t be counted in dollars, because a convenient, comfortable, and warm home is invaluable. Something to remember in this money-obsessed age in which we live!
The romance went through an interesting set of ups and downs until a happy solution was arrived at. That and trying to save the boys’ clubhouse from demolition kept my attention until the very end. And so, my rating is…
Next on my list was In this Corner of the World. This film did an excellent job of portraying the ordinary life of a village girl in the years before and during WWII. At first, I was nonplussed by how adult the heroine sounded, but I eventually understood that she was older than she looked. All the characters except for those with grey hairs are older than they look in this movie. But, the characters come off as very human, and the story does a great job of reminding people that joy can be found amid tragic circumstances.
With the last two movies, I talked about how well they immersed one in the time period or captured the feel of the time, but In this Corner of the World stands head and shoulders above the other two in this regard. Though it deals with the bombing of Hiroshima, it does not crush one’s soul in the way that Grave of the Fireflies does. (I’ll be having my soul crushed tonight, by the way.)
Having said that, I’ve never seen such a perfect portrayal of civilian life under constant bombardment from heavy bombers. (There was one scene of a fighter strafing the town which annoyed me. Americans did not so hate the Japanese as to want to strafe civilians, a very inefficient manner of killing at any rate.) The struggles of rationing and needing to resort to the black market felt very realistic. Tragedy lurked around every corner. For all of the above and the unique pastel animation, I can rate it no less than…