New Ghibli Movie: Kokuriko Zaka Kara (From Up on Poppy Hill)

22 Aug

This post is created by Apple and Kirin. It’s our collaboration post! šŸ™‚
Apple’s part starts from here…

I just got to know from my friend that there is a new Ghibli movie! I didn’t know that! I’ve just searched for the trailer on Youtube and here it is! šŸ™‚

I know…what on earth does the trailer tell you right? Haha! Except that the theme song is so soothing and touching and it looks like it’ll be a pretty nice and touching animation.

According to Wiki, this animation takes place in 1963 in Yokohama. I’m very happy because I’ve always liked to see old Japan~~ šŸ˜€ There’s a nice, sweet, nostalgic feeling about seeing old Japan even though I wasn’t not even born yet. Haha!

Well, anyway, the 2 main characters are a 16 year old girl, Umi, and a 17 year old boy, Shun.

Every morning, Umi raises a signal flag facing the sea, signifying a prayer for safe voyages. Shun will always see this flag from the sea as he rides a tugboat to school. I also read that Umi’s father went missing after a freak boating accident. Then, I saw a longer trailer where they had this conversation:

Umi: If you hate me, just tell me clearly.
Shun takes out a faded photograph and read out his real father’s name.
Shun: You and I are siblings.
Umi: Eh? What should we do?

I have no idea.

What is this about?

But like many other Ghibli movies, I feel, it’s not about the story. It’s about the feelings that you get when you watch the whole animation along with its usually very awesome accompanying music.

Honestly, I have never really understood fully any of the Ghibili animations I watch. I just enjoy the magic of each animation. If you ask me to tell you what “Spirited Away” is about, I can’t really say. It’s hard to summarise a personal experience. If I try to explain and put it in words, you wouldn’t even want to watch it. It’d be something like, “Oh. It’s about this girl, who got spirited away into another world, and came back later.”

So…I’m thinking this is perhaps why my friend hasn’t replied me on Facebook yet when I asked her what this movie was about. Haha!

Oh! She has replied! In her own words:

“The movie is about after WW2 in Yokohama. People started to bulid new things and have new ideas. But the heroine named Umi tried to find good things in old ones.She is very kind and a hardworker!!!”

Sounds interesting! Hope everyone can watch it soon! šŸ™‚

Kirin’s part starts from here…
I knew Kokuriko zaka…was released in July. But I have not seen it yet. I only saw NHK TV program that illustrated how this movie was created. As you may have noticed, it’s scripted by Hayao Miyazaki and directed by Goro Miyazaki, a son of Hayao’s. Speaking of Goro Miyazaki, you may remember Tales from Earthsea (Japanese title is “Gedo Senki”) was directed by him. It was his first work and unfortunately it was not evaluated as good as Hayao’s works. Then, this Kokuriko zaka (sorry I’m not familiar with its English title) was his second direction. I thought Hayao and Goro are working happily before I saw this program. (It’s possible the video will be deleted soon so watch it while it is available. Even though you don’t understand Japanese, you can see what Ghibli animation studio is like, how the animators of Kokuriko zaka were working for the movie, and the bad mood of Hayao and Goro…and etc.)

But the truth is…Hayao doesn’t admit that Goro is a good director. He seems so frustrated with his son because he knows how he would do it better when his son is suffering from how to express the feelings of the movie characters with subtle movement of animation. I didn’t know that Goro joined Ghibli animation studio after many years of working as a construction consultant. He is from complete different industry! But it was when Hayao decided to build Ghibli Museum that this father and son worked together, and then he was asked by the producer if he might be interested in working with them to make “Gedo Senki”…which means Tales from Earthsea in English. This totally surprised me because I thought he was working for Ghibli from the beginning with no doubt!

There was the 3.11 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami while they were making this movie. But they defended the deadline (its release date in Japan) to the death. They shifted their working hour from daytime to night time so that could use electricity with no problem. (Because of the radiation crisis in Fukushima caused by the malfunction of nuclear reactors from the earthquake and tsunami, we have to live with limited electricity. Especially in March, right after the accident, we had to suffer from scheduled blackouts region by region.) I think this illustrates how Japanese people are. What a big deal if the deadline is missed, because there was an earthquake and frequent blackouts then. But that’s the Japanese. We can even sacrifice our personal life, time with family and health if we can finish it before the deadline by working while people are sleeping. Well, honestly I am not always Japanese myself because I feel this is rather too much…haha.

Now let’s see how Hayao answered the interview: Why did he script this movie for us today?

What does he say? I can tell you…

“Japan has changed since the Tokyo Olympic Game (1964). Somehow from some stage of the time, young people feel like the world has been the same place. They don’t catch the sense there was some historical changes of the times in Japan. Naturally, people have wondered how we should live or how we should keep vision or a strong will, but look at what’s happening today. People worship money and matarial, we are talking about money and economy all the time. This change is remarkable especially since 1980, I guess. Then people nowadays find no way out, and for example a 20-year-old daughter is already worried about her pension.
How stupid it is! I wonder what the heck the young people think of their possibilities.”

The movie shows a high school girl who lost her father in the chaotic period of the war. She is a sturdy girl. Through this character, what does Hayao want to tell us?

“Young people changed a lot. When they fail job hunting at the first company, they feel they are desperate. Even if they successfully get a job, they say something so miserable that makes me feel sick. ‘I survived in this way’…for example. Isn’t it funny to set a job hunting as a goal when they have not even started working? Young people need training. But they don’t do it. They just watch TV, browse internet and think they can skip training. They only care about their day-to-day life. They don’t understand what it’s like to be independent as a human being. I wanted to make a movie to express something like that.”

I don’t know if the young people in your country have similar problems to what Hayao Miyazaki mentioned in the interview, but this looks like the background of the movie. I hope you liked our collaboration post. šŸ˜€ (In case you are a new reader and not familiar with Apple, she is a member of TKE. She sometimes writes interesting posts to TKE and she also has her own blog.)


25 Responses to “New Ghibli Movie: Kokuriko Zaka Kara (From Up on Poppy Hill)”

  1. yukari August 22, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    Thanks Kirin for your translation of the interview and your amazing insights on Miyazaki-sensei and his son's working relations.

    However, I feel a sad that Apple said "Like many other Ghibli movies, I feel, it’s not about the story. It’s about the feelings that you get when you watch the whole animation along with its usually very awesome accompanying music."

    It seems very shallow to say that because all Ghibli films dwell heavily on the stories/plots. Of course, the music and the beautiful drawings helps the story-telling, but what is a Ghibli film without its unique and touching storyline?

    It's very simple, really. For example, you have an amazing story to tell, but it will be a bad story if you are not a good story-teller. On the other hand, even if you have are a good story teller, your listeners will not pay attention to you because the monotonous story isn't able to sustain their interests.

    To say that Ghibli films works only for its animation and beautiful songs, completely strips off all the efforts of the writers of Ghibli films. And this should not come from someone whose knowledge of Ghibli films derive from Wikipedia.

    By the way, trailers are not suppose to tell you anything. Trailer are suppose to grab your attention to the film by offering snippet scenes from the film. If the story can be told through a trailer, then it does not deserve a full-length film.

    • Apple August 22, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

      I'm sorry! >"<

      yes it's definitely about the story, but I meant to say that Ghibli movies are so good that it leaves me thinking about many different things after watching it, and it's just hard to describe the whole experience. I have always felt that Ghibli movies have a surreal touch to it. Something like…it seems like it can happen to you in real life, but…not really. And I find it hard to just describe accurately what each Ghibli film is about. So, contradictory to what you feel I feel about Ghibli movies, in actual fact we are both at the same line of thought: That Ghibli films are amazing.

      And…I like the way you said trailers should be. I have never thought about that before, because most trailers give you a sense of what the movie is about. Something like a summary of a story of a book you are going to buy on the back of the hardcover. I saw this trailer, and I had no idea what story it would be about. But, like you said, trailers are supposed to grab your attention, and it sure grabbed mine! ^^

      Thanks for reading! I enjoyed what Kirin shared too. It definitely brought to light many things I was wondering about. So thank you Kirin!!! ^^

  2. gabrielmacae August 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    Those trailers have a sad, yet appealing feeling. It's somehow sad and cute.
    So, like almost everything you post here, I am eager to watch it.

    About what Hayao said, I think it's a worldwide phenomenon.

  3. princesspowerful August 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    I am a huge fan of Studio Ghibli movies. I've watched almost all of them since I was a little kid and continue to enjoy them even now that I'm older. I'll say that the meanings of the movies for me change as I mature, but the impact has been pretty much the same. Sure, the animation is beautiful and the music is touching, but the stories are deep, meaningful, and challenging.

  4. Apple August 22, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    Kirin, thanks for writing more about this… Now I really want to watch this movie. I was struck by what Hayao Miyazaki said…

    "Young people need training. But they don’t do it. They just watch TV, browse internet and think they can skip training. They only care about their day-to-day life. They don’t understand what it’s like to be independent as a human being."

    I don't know why but it sounds like me.

    And he also said that nowadays people worship money and material. I feel that it can't be helped, can it? Success is measured by how much you are earning now, no? I had a friend who said I was a loser just because I didn't earn as much as her. For some time, I thought about this… Although I'm rather happy with my current life (focusing on doing things I like than focusing on how much money I should earn), sometimes I will feel a little insecure when my other normal working friends show off how much they are earning a month.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed this post! I was pleasantly surprised to see this published so quickly! Haha! ^^

    • kirin August 23, 2011 at 12:44 am #

      Thank you Apple.
      At first I started to write a short comment but as it turned out, it gets longer and so I made it a collaboration post. ^ ^;;

      I used to think success means how much one earns and how happily he or she lives. But these days, I think it depends on each person. In this world money looks like absolute way that indicates degree of success, but the truth is not. Of course it's one of them, but how can we define rich people with no real friends as successful?

      It's strange that your friends show off how much they earn. It's such a personal thing… But please just know that money is only one of the ways that shows wealth. There are more other ways but they are not as prominent as money, people can easily forget them.

  5. sedonia2 August 22, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    I'm so thrilled that Studio Ghibli has a new film out. I adore all those films and we have most of his collection on our shelf. I also own Tales from Earthsea. I didn't know that it was Hayao Miyazaki's son who directed. Probably saw it on the credits but have forgotten that since. However, I found it to be absolutely beautifully done – music, artwork, everything. I have read all the Earthsea novels and the film was so well done I couldn't even compare the film to the books and say the books are better, as happens so often when a book is made into a film. I can't wait to see From Up on Poppy Hill. I do hope it gets released in the US soon! Thank you so much for letting us know about it. I'm a huge fan. My favorite is Totoro who is adorable. šŸ™‚ I've often had Totoro as a background image on my computer desktop. hehe

    • kirin August 23, 2011 at 12:48 am #

      Oh how cute you like Totoro so much. ^ ^
      Then it sounds like Singapore released the movie very soon, while it's not yet at many other countries.
      I suppose it was translated into English there. It's so soon! @w@

  6. everydayoutfits August 22, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    Thanks for informing us about the new movie! I love Studio Ghibli movies and can't wait for this one. I don't understand the lyrics, but I thought the theme song sounded very sad or melancholic. I really want to watch it now.

  7. winnie August 23, 2011 at 4:33 am #

    Hi Kirin and Apple,

    i like Ghibli movies.
    Each of their movie is unique to me.
    Their storyline are meaningful and interesting.
    For my view, the storyline will tell us a moral or message. With enchanting music too.

  8. yumii August 23, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    I like what Hayao Miyazaki said about young people. I'm from Malaysia and I'd seen a lot of my friends of my age (22 years-old) whining about work and studies but they never knew how lucky they are to be given what they have.

    I'm working professionally for two years now because I wasn't accepted into any local universities after leaving my high school. While being down on my luck for tertiary studies, I was delighted when a company decided to hire me. I came from a lower class family and through many hardships growing up, I tend to be more matured than my peers.

    While I am working and learning through my work, my friends studied in universities/colleges. A few of them had graduated and had since been working or finding for jobs. Like Miyazaki said, when they fail to find a job, they feel desperate; but when they have a job, they had this resentment – filled with hatred and complains – towards their work, which – like Miyazaki said, makes me feel utterly sick.

    I am one of the young people but I feel disgusted by their laziness and bad attitudes. Young people nowadays do not want to work for the company, but they want their companies to work for them. They are so spoon-fed to the point that they cannot be independent or even survive in the dog-eat-dog world. All they want is a higher salary and less work, because they measure 'success' by money and mostly, want to show off to their peers.

    There are many reasons why Ghibli films are one of the important aspects of my life and I am truly grateful to Ghibli films for teaching me how to be an independent adult and learn how to deal with things instead of complaining about it or just run away from my responsibilities. (Learnt all these from Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, Hotaru no Haka, Mimi wo Sumaseba, Omihide Poro Poro etc)

    I wish people will watch more of Ghibli films and manage to learn all the underlying moral values in them. They helped me, I'm sure they will be able to help others to open their eyes and minds too.

    • kirin August 24, 2011 at 12:48 am #

      Thank you for your comment, yumii.
      It was very interesting, and I feel like watching old Ghibli movies over and over again. They are all great for anyone.
      BTW I'm impressed you know titles in Japanese! (Omohide is an old way of Japanese that is written as Omohide but read as Omoide, which means memory. ^ ^)

  9. ZanaaSensei August 23, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    Thanks for the post. I love Ghibli studio movies..I had watched all their movies …
    I can’t wait for the movie coming out…
    But I don’t think here in Malaysia…Never heard Ghibli studio movies released here… šŸ˜›

  10. ilovemamegoma August 24, 2011 at 4:13 am #

    One thing I like about Miyazaki's films is that a lot of the time, the main character is a girl. In the U.S., Hollywood won't make movies with girls as the main characters because they think they won't be successful or that they will lose money. The exception is of course many Disney films–but then all the girls and women in Disney are princesses, just there to be saved by the prince. They aren't strong or interesting and they just uphold tired stereotypes about females. (Of course, as a kid I liked Disney movies, but I think it would have been healthier for me to see more characters like the females in Ghibli films).

    In Japan, the main character is often a girl but both boys and girls love Miyazaki's films. I wish my country would get over gender stereotyping and sexism. Films with females as the main character in a strong role have proven to be successful in Japan–there is no reason they cannot be successful in the U.S.

    • kirin August 25, 2011 at 8:07 am #

      Than you for your interesting comment. I didn't even notice that…
      But in a real life of Japan, there are more jobs that women cannot (or rarely) do compared with the U.S. There are less female taxi driver, almost no bus driver, for example.

  11. Health Insurance August 25, 2011 at 6:35 am #

    Lovely video and interesting details

  12. Andy August 25, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    Studio Ghibli's movie themes are universal that's why regardless whether the main character is male or female (most female), we can relate to them. At some point of our lives, we had the same emotions and dilemmas as the characters and they're portrayed creatively, at the same time realistically. The "old-school" animation is lovely, as always. And that's why we all love Studio Ghibli movies!

    • kirin August 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

      Nice comment! b(^ ^)d

    • Apple August 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

      Best comment ever!!!!! Very well said!!! šŸ˜€ Super agree with everything you wrote! ^^

  13. Viktoria August 25, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    I am soooo excited and happy that a new Ghibli movie will be released. For me, Ghibli movies have more depth and meaning than Disney films. Of course I watch Disney films too, but Ghibli movies are special, they can touch you deep inside your soul and cause a variety of emotions. They show the true life(for example 'Grave of the Fireflies', which made me cry really hard T-T), at least they don't unnecessary prettify life like Disney where almost everyone is wealthy and has a great lifestyle. And the music is just A.M.A.Z.I.N.G., it always fits perfectly . Well that's how I feel :D. Unfortunately Ghibli movies get less attention than Disney films in Germany .
    Thank you kirin and Apple for this post.

    Regards from Germany! ā¤

    • kirin August 26, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

      The music is wonderful, the animation is drawn/colored so beautifully and in detail, and I do agree that Ghibli movies can touch our heart so deeply. It's very interesting how you compare Ghibli and Disney.
      Thank you for your comment, Viktoria. ^ ^

    • Apple August 27, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

      your comment is very interesting! ^^ I like Disney films a lot too….but you've made a very clear distinction between Disney and Ghibli which I haven't realised before. I guess that's why Ghibli films can touch our hearts so much better than Disney films! ^^ Thanks for your comment! ^^

  14. Rachel September 1, 2011 at 3:44 am #

    Like many of your readers, I absolutely love Ghibli films and eagerly await each new one. I had not even heard about this movie yet, so thanks so much for all the info! The song is so beautiful and the animation looks enchanting, as always.
    I, too, often have a hard time explaining to someone the plot/story of a Ghibli film. The movies provide an escape from our often mundane lives by transporting us to a fantasy world and filling us with wonder. Regardless of the characters, story, or setting, when I watch Ghibli, it's like a mini vacation for my mind šŸ˜€

    • kirin September 2, 2011 at 11:54 am #

      "A mini vacation for my mind"…I like how you expressed that feeling. I know exactly what you mean! šŸ˜‰

  15. 555 Condos June 14, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

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