From Up on Poppy Hill (U) 91 mins ***
The latest Studio Ghibli animation – adapted by Hayao Miyazaki from a comic by Tetsuro Sayama, and directed by Miyazaki’s son Goro – might usefully play as the restorative half of a double-bill with the recently revived Grave of the Fireflies: it’s a light, breezy 1960s-set coming-of-age tale that strives to convey something of how Japan rebuilt itself after the traumas of WW2. The high-school romance between fatherless heroine Umi and student journalist Shun derives equally from the photo-roman and the history books; the pair’s inquiries into their shared, complicated past stand for those of the entire nation. Miyazaki Jr.’s quietist approach leaves it looking like minor Ghibli, and will likely limit any appeal to younger viewers – there’s no magic or monsters – but it nevertheless arrives with the vast reserves of patience, optimism and artistry we’ve come to expect from this studio.
From Up on Poppy Hill opens in selected cinemas, in both subtitled and dubbed versions, from today.