From Up on Poppy Hill ★★★½

My daughter Daisy's seen a half-dozen Studio Ghibli films, so she turns to me near the end of FROM UP ON POPPY HILL and says, "This one doesn't have any magic in it." Then I said one of two things to her in response, either "You're right." or "Well, they sure made that incest business disappear, yeah?"

I love the fact that Miyazaki the Elder and Miyazaki the Younger made an animated film centering on that well-trod children's movie theme of How Does a Society Manage Nostalgia and History While Trying to Move On From the Unpleasant Past, while leaving in the source material's plot twist, a twist so weird that the script leans into it by having a character announce he's in a bad melodrama. Without knowing and being too lazy to search, I'd guess the manga was aimed at an older audience, which makes this adaptation all the more impressive because it's still an engaging character piece in spite of everything else it's carrying. Maybe someday I'll get sick of Ghibli's protagonistas, who cope with the disappointments of life and the burdens of maturity with grace and sincerity and who regard duty as a source of meaning. But not today.

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