The Wind Rises Is Nominated for Chicago Critics & Critics’ Choice Awards

The Broadcast Film Critics Association has announced its nominees for the 19th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s The Wind Rises is nominated for Best Animated Feature alongside The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Frozen, and Monsters University. The CW Network will broadcast the awards show live on January 16, 2014.

In addition, the Chicago Film Critics Association has announced that The Wind Rises is nominated in the Best Foreign-Language Film and Best Animated Feature categories. Goro Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s From Up on Poppy Hill is also nominated in the Best Animated Feature category. The CFCA will announce their winners on December 16, 2013.

Anime Films to Screen at the IFC Center Theater in New York City

The IFC Center theater in New York City will be holding a film retrospective for films released by GKids over the past five years. The films included in the retrospective are:

  • Welcome to the Space Show
  • A Letter to Momo
  • My Neighbor Totoro
  • Grave of the Fireflies
  • Summer Wars
  • From Up on Poppy Hill

The films will open on December 20, 2013 and will play through January 2, 2014.

Anime Film Review: From Up on Poppy Hill

From Up on Poppy Hill, which is known as Kokuriko-zaka Kara, is an anime film directed by Goro Miyazaki; it is based on a 1980 comic of the same name written by Tetsuro Sayama and illustrated by Chizuru Takahashi. The film was released to Japanese theaters on July 16, 2011. GKIDS produced an English dub of From Up on Poppy Hill, and released the film to theaters in North America on March 15, 2013. GKIDS released the film as a two-disc DVD and as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack on September 3, 2013.

The film is set in 1963, and 16-year-old Umi Matsuzaki lives at a boarding house that overlooks the Port of Yokohama. Her mother is studying abroad in the United States as a medical professor and her father was killed when his supply ship was sunk by mines in the Korean War. Umi runs the house and looks after her siblings, Sora and Riku, as well as her grandmother. Also living in the boarding house are a college student named Sachiko Hirokouji and a doctor-in-training named Miki Hokuto.

Every morning, Umi raises a set of signal flags. One day, a poem about flags being raised by a local girl is published in the school newspaper, and her friends are sure that the poem is about Umi. The poem was written by Shun Kazama, a member of the school’s journalism club; he sees the flag from the sea as he rides on a tugboat to school. They meet in person when Shun does a daredevil stunt for the newspaper; this leaves Umi with a negative impression of him at first. However, when she later escorts Sora to the dilapidated building that houses the school’s clubs for an autograph, she gets to know him a little better.

Shun is the publisher of the school newspaper, along with Shiro Mizunuma, the school’s student government president. Umi starts becoming involved with the newspaper and learns that the future of Quartier Latin, the dilapidated building, is in danger. Umi convinces the other students to renovate the building and the female student body agrees to work with the other students.

Shun and Umi, meanwhile, have a mutual attraction to each other. However, they learn some information that could put their budding relationship at risk. It also appears that the fate of Quartier Latin could also be in jeopardy, even though the remodeling project has been taking place.

When I watched this film, it was with the Japanese audio with English subtitles, so I can only truly comment on the Japanese version of the film. Personally, I enjoyed it. This was a very well-done “coming of age” story, and as a viewer, I came to really care about both Umi and Shun. I also thought the two subplots worked well together, and that the humor that appeared during the renovation of the club building effectively complemented the more serious storyline involving Umi and Shun.

The animation in From Up on Poppy Hill looked incredible, and it looks just as good as many of Studio Ghibli’s other classic films. I especially liked the design of the Quartier Latin building.

The music in this film also sounds incredible, and almost sounds like it came out of the 1960s; it definitely helped me to believe that I was watching events taking place in 1963. There’s one song with vocals that appears in a couple of scenes in the film, which is known as “I Shall Walk Looking Up” by Kyu Sakamoto; this was a hit in Japan in 1961. However, the reason this song was chosen for the film is due to the fact that this song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1963, under the title of “Sukiyaki,” so this song has some significance to the year being featured in the film. When I heard this song in the film, I recognized the music from knowing the English version of “Sukiyaki” done by 4 P.M. that was hit in the United States in 1994. So for me, it was awesome to get to hear some of the original Japanese version.

After watching this film, I think From Up on Poppy Hill will appeal to both teenagers and to adults.

When I watched this film, it was on the two-disc DVD release, so that is what this review will cover.

The first disc of this release includes the film and the storyboard version of the film. The remaining bonus features all appear on the second disc in the set.

The first bonus feature is, “Director Goro Miyazaki on Yokohama,” and it runs for about 17-and-a-half minutes. This is an interview piece, done in the style where the question is shown on the screen and it is answered by Goro. While GKIDS translated what Goro is saying, the actual questions he’s being asked were not translated, which makes it hard enough to figure out what it is that Goro is talking about. Unfortunately, as I watched the feature, I quickly came to realize that Goro has a tendency to ramble, so this made it even harder to figure out what the question was that Goro was answering. After watching this, I wish GKIDS had gone to the effort to translating the questions that appeared on the screen.

“Yokohama – Stories of Past and Present” runs for 22 minutes, and includes images of Yokohama then and now. There’s text on the screen that explains what’s being seen, and this text was translated. Unfortunately, all you get is the text and no kind of voice-over narration. While I like the idea behind this feature, I wish it had been a little more interesting to watch, especially since it runs for a little over 20 minutes.

“Summer of Farewells” music video is the music video for the ending theme song of the film. It’s interesting to note that the video uses quite a bit of the footage from the past that appears in the “Yokohama – Stories of Past and Present” feature, but that no actual footage from the film appears in it.

“English Voice Cast Featurette” shows the voice actors working in the studio, and the piece is narrated by Gary Rydstrom and Michael Miller. It runs for 21 minutes, and I thought this was overall a bit better than the “Behind the Microphone” featurettes that Disnet produced for some of their Studio Ghibli releases.

There’s also Japanese trailers and teasers for the film, and this feature includes English subtitles. Between the theatrical and television spots, this feature runs for about seven minutes. Unfortunately, some of the television spots do feel a little redundant, especially near the end. The U.S. trailer is also included as a bonus feature, and it runs for two minutes and 25 seconds. The final extra is trailers for other films that GKIDS has released.

If you enjoy From Up on Poppy Hill and don’t already own a copy in your home video library, I would recommend purchasing a copy of this film.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of From Up on Poppy Hill that my husband checked out through the King County Library System.

New Anime Releases: September 3, 2013

Here are the new anime releases for September 3, 2013. If you see any errors or omissions in this list, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know.

Akb0048: Season 1 [DVD]
Akb0048: Season 1 [Blu-ray]
Elfen Lied: Complete Collection + OVA [DVD]
Elfen Lied: Complete Collection + OVA [Blu-ray]
From Up on Poppy Hill [DVD]
From Up on Poppy Hill [Blu-ray/DVD Combo]
Irresponsible Captain Tylor OVA Series [DVD]
Love Doll Complete DVD Collection [DVD]
One Piece: Season Five, Voyage Two [DVD]
Slave Sisters [DVD]
Yuruyuri – Happy Go Lily Season 1 [Blu-ray]

GKids and Cinedigm Announce Animation Label

GKids and Cinedigm have announced that the two companies are teaming up to launch a multi-platform animation label. Under the agreement, GKids will continue to distribute films theatrically, while Cinedigm will handle “ancillary distribution” under the GKids brand.

The companies have announced they will be releasing seven new GKids titles on home video under this new partnership. Two of the titles being released as part of this agreement are Production I.G’s A Letter to Momo and Studio Ghibli’s From Up on Poppy Hill.

From Up on Poppy Hill Opens With US $55,000 in 2 NYC Theaters

The Box Office Mojo website is reporting that From Up on Poppy Hill opened this weekend in two New York City theaters, grossing an estimated US$55,000. This gave the film a per screen average of US$27,500, and this per screen average was the second highest among all films in the United States.

In addition, more theaters have announced they will be showing From Up on Poppy Hill in April and May of 2013.

April 5, 2013:
Los Angeles – Laemmle Noho 7
Denver – Landmark Esquire
Portland – Regal Fox Tower
Honolulu – Kahala 8
Washington, DC – Regal Gallery Place
Washington, DC – Angelika Mosaic
Boston – Hollywood Hits Danvers
Minneapolis – Landmark Edina
Omaha – Film Streams (immediately following Ghibli series)

April 12, 2013:
Philadelphia – Landmark Ritz at the Bourse
Washington, DC – AMC Rio Gaithesburg
Washington, DC – AMC Shirlington
Washington, DC – Regal Majestic Silver Springs
Tucson – Loft Cinema

April 19, 2013:
Dallas – Landmark Magnolia
Atlanta – Landmark Midtown Art
St. Louis – Landmark Plaza Frontenac
South FL – Living Room Boca Raton

April 26, 2013:
Washington, DC – Regal Downtown West Charlottesville
Charlotte – Regal Manor
Salt Lake City – Broadway
Ithaca – Cinemapolis

May 3, 2013:
Knoxville – Regal Downtown West

May 10, 2013:
Nashville – Belcourt
Milwaukee – Landmark Oriental

Screenings for From Up on Poppy Hill

GKids has posted a list of theaters that will be screening From Up on Poppy Hill during March 2013. Screenings are currently scheduled for March 15, 22, and 29.

As of this writing, here is the list of theaters showing the film:

March 15, 2013
New York – IFC Center
New York – Film Society of Lincoln Center

March 22, 2013
Los Angeles – The Landmark

March 29, 2013
Queens – Kew Gardens Cinema
Long Island – Malverne Cinemas
Los Angeles – Laemmle Playhouse
Irvine – Regal Edwards University Town Center 6
Chicago – Landmark Century 7
San Francisco – Landmark Embarcadero Center
San Francisco – Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
Palo Alto – Cinemark Palo Alto Square
Berkeley – Landmark California Theatre
Boston – Landmark Kendall Square Cinema
Seattle – Landmark Theatres
Minneapolis – Landmark Uptown Theater
San Diego – Landmark Hillcrest
Long Island – Cinema Arts Centre
San Rafael – Regency San Rafael
Pleasant Hill – Cinemark Century 5
San Jose – Cinemark Santana Row
San Jose – Camera 7 Cinemas
Evanston – CineArts at Evanston
Waterloo – Princess Cinemas

April 5, 2013
Sacramento – Tower Theatre
Claremont – Laemmle Claremont
Santa Cruz – Nickelodeon Del Mar Theatre
Redwood City – Cinemark Century 20 Downtown
Long Beach – Art Long Beach
Lancaster, CA – BLVD Cinemas
Los Angeles – Laemmle Monica 4
Los Angeles – Laemmle Noho 7
Seattle – Sundance Cinemas Seattle
Seattle – Majestic Bay Theater
Denver – Landmark Esquire
Boulder – Cinemark 16
Portland – Regal Fox Tower
Honolulu – Kahala 8
Washington, D.C. – Regal Gallery Place
Fairfax – Angelika Mosaic
Danvers – Hollywood Hits Danvers
Amherst – Amherst Cinema
Boston – Landmark Kendall Square Cinema
Minneapolis – Landmark Edina
Omaha – Film Streams

April 12, 2013
Forest Hills – Cinemart Cinemas
Los Angeles – Landmark Regent
Berkely – Landmark Shattuck Cinemas
Seattle – Regal Meridian 16
Irvine – Regal Edwards Westpark 8
San Rafael – Cinemark Century Northgate
San Jose – Camera 3
Mountain View – Cinemark Century Cinema 16
Santa Cruz – Nickelodeon Theaters
Palm Desert/Rancho Mirage – Century @ The River
Cleveland – Capitol Theatre
Cincinnati – Mariemont Theater
Roseville – Cinemark Century 14
Point Arena – Arena Point Theater
Tempe – Harkins Valley Art
Philadelphia – Landmark Ritz at the Bourse
Gaithesburg – AMC Rio Gaithesburg
Arlington – AMC Shirlington
Silver Springs – Regal Majestic Silver Springs
Houston – Sundance Cinemas
Tucson – Loft Cinema
Hartford – Cinema City at the Palace
New Haven – Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas
Port Townsend – The Rose Theatre
Waterloo – Princess Twin
West Newton – West Newton Cinemas

April 19, 2013
Austin – Regal Arbor
Dallas – Landmark Magnolia
Plano – Cinemark West Plano
Atlanta – Landmark Midtown Art
St. Louis – Landmark Plaza Frontenac
Boca Raton – Living Room Boca Raton
Gainesville – Hippodrome Theater
Madison – Sundance Cinemas
Mobile – The Crescent Theater
Millerton – The Moviehouse
Bar Harbor – Reel Pizza & Cinerama
San Luis Obispo – The Palm Theatre
Sebastopol – Rialto Cinemas
Santa Rosa – Summerfield Cinemas
Laguna Niguel – Rancho Niguel 8
Richmond – Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas at Movieland
Annapolis – Bow Tie Cinemas Annapolis Mall 11
Ft. Collins – The Lyric Cinema & Cafe

April 26, 2013
Charlottesville – Regal Downtown West
Charlotte – Regal Manor
Ithaca – Cinemapolis
Las Vegas – Regal Village Square
Bellingham – Pickford Film Center
Marthas Vineyard – MV Film Center
Atlanta – Landmark Midtown Art
Athens – Athens Ciné
Anchorage – Bear Tooth Theatre
Springfield – The Moxie Cinema
Montreal – Cinema du Parc
Nashville – The Belcourt

May 3, 2013
Knoxville – Regal Downtown West
Waterville – Railroad Square Cinema
Davis – Davis Varsity Theatre
Park City – Cinemark Holiday 4
Gloucester – Cape Ann Community Cinema
Ogden – Arthouse Cinema 502
Ithaca – Cinemapolis
Santa Barbara – Metropolitan Fiesta 5

May 10, 2013
Miami – O Cinema
Winter Park/Orlando – Regal Winter Park Village
Sarasota – Regal Hollywood 20
Milwaukee – Landmark Oriental
Bakersfield – Maya 16
Shreveport – Robinson Film Center
Ann Arbor – Michigan Theater
Olympia – Capitol Theatre / Olympia Film Society (starts May 11)
Ann Arbor – Michigan Theater

May 17
Tulsa – Circle Cinema
Lake Park – Mos’ Art Theater
Des Moines – Fleur Cinema
Grand Rapids – Celebration Cinemas North
Lansing – Celebration Cinemas TBD
Lancaster – Zoetropolis (opens May 15)
Pittsburgh – Harris Theater
Providence – Cable Car Cinema
Boca Raton – Living Room Theaters
Tacoma – Grand Cinema
Stamford – Avon Theater
Ft. Worth – Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art
Dubuque – Mindframe Theaters
Olympia – Olympia Film Society

May 20
Edmonton, Canada – Metro Cinema

May 22
Hamilton – Hamilton Theater

May 24
Patchogue – Plaza Media Arts Center
Columbia – Ragtag Cinema
Rosendale – Rosendale Theater (5/26 only)
Kansas City – Tivoli Theater
Tampa – Tampa Theater
Columbia – Nickelodeon
Albany – Spectrum Theater
Winston Salem – Aperture Theater
New York – Cinema Village
Seattle – Landmark Crest Cinema
Portland – Laurelhurst Theater
Portland – McMenamins Kennedy School Theater
Portland – McMenamins Mission Theater
Bend – McMenamins St. Francis Theater

May 31
Durham – Carolina Theatre
Monterey – Osio Plaza Cinemas 6
Bijou – Bijou Metro
Birmingham – Edge Theaters 12

June 7
Saskatoon – The Roxy Saskatoon
Geneva – Smith Opera House

June 14-16
Paducah – Maiden Alley Theatre
Boulder – Boedecker Theater
Champaign – Art Theater
Burien – Tin Theater

June 17
Beaufort – Center for the Arts

June 21
Oklahoma City – Oklahoma City Museum of Art
Lewisburg – Campus Theater

June 22
Mt Vernon – Lincoln Theater

June 28
Montgomery – Capri Theater

July 2
Albuquerque – Guild Cinema

July 10
Nyack – Palisades Center / Rivertown Film

July 19
Chicago – Gene Siskel Film Center

July 26
Toms River – Traco Theater
Cleveland – Cleveland Museum of Art