From Up on Poppy Hill
I guess it was only a matter of time before something like this came up again, in which I consider it to be one of Ghibli's "lesser" films. As usual, not necessarily bad, but just an odd and awkward subject matter that I'd sooner avoid to see one of the studio's stronger films instead. That said, I'll give the film credit for tackling the subject matter in a positive way, without it getting too out of hand.
Long story short, we meet a couple of high school students named Umi Matsuzaki (Masami Nagasawa/Sarah Bolger) and Shun Kazama (Junichi Okada/Anton Yelchin). Umi's mother, Ryoko (Jun Fubuki/Jamie Lee Curtis) has gone to study abroad as Umi is left to take care of her sisters and grandmother while also attending school, and Shun works for the school newspaper, and is a bit of a showoff.
The two develop a liking for each other, however they both soon find out that they have just a bit more in common than they originally thought. Meanwhile, the other side of the story involves the classic "save the rec center" plot, involving a group of high school club members attempting to save their school's clubhouse from being taken down to make way for the 1964 Olympics.
It's another title that strays away from fantasy and grounds itself in reality, which is fine, but I personally find Ghibli's fantasy films to be far superior. I mean, to each their own, but I personally find these love stories a bit yawn-inducing. That said, credit to the studio for changing it up once in a while. While this may not be up my alley, it's perfectly fine for others who enjoy the "realistic slice of life" concept rather than the "epic fantasy adventure" concept.
Thus far, the only realistic one I've really liked was 'Grave of the Fireflies', and that was mostly for the view into Japan, immediately post-World War II. It was a story about a struggle for survival, and often difficult to watch, yet captivating all at once. Most of the realism in these films afterward tend to be love stories executed in different ways, which generally aren't up my alley, unless they can be done in a fantastic way. But these are just kinda plain and simple. Again, that's fine for many, and I can see people enjoying them, but all they do is make me look more forward to the next fun fantasy adventure.
Anyway, I find this one landing in the same area as 'Only Yesterday', 'Ocean Waves', and to a lesser extent, 'Whisper of the Heart'. It's not gonna find itself on my final Top 10 list, but it's something to check out if you feel like something more simplistic and realistic. Again though, it touches on a subject matter that may be a bit awkward for some, so just keep that in mind going into it. Once again, it's a 3, but the lower end of it.
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As anime is an all-around untapped resource for my viewing pleasure, I have decided to explore the Ghibli titles, one-by-one. It seemed good a place to start as any. I'll be focusing on these titles throughout the month of August.