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A Hayao Miyazaki Film

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Delightful imagery, boundless joy, innocent love - even a lighter effort by Miyazaki is still an occasion to celebrate

  • Dec 13, 2009
Rating:
+3
Ponyo is a young fish-girl who loves to explore, but her father, a great wizard of the sea, fears the chaos her untamed powers could unleash upon the world. He's right to worry, since she, like every young undomesticated child, is an elemental force of nature who has little respect for the boundaries that grownups take so seriously. She escapes and meets up with a young boy whose imagination at least is a match for her magical powers - and it is love at first sight. Not romantic love but something more innocent and pure - like the youthful love of nature.

It starts out strong - and contains some of Miyazaki's most delightful and exuberant imagery, as when Ponyo runs blissfully upon the backs of her sisters who are at once giant fish and enormous waves. The story itself as it develops has gaps, moments that don't all add up, and unexplained elements. As another reviewer mentioned, for example, the test that Fujimoto and the sea goddess devise for Sosuke is somewhat anticlimactic, unlike the tests faced by the heroine of Spirited Away. I had the suspicion several times that perhaps Disney cut things out for its U.S. release - since the plot lacked some of the depth and richness in its backstory of many of Miyazaki's other works. A bit of searching shows I was wrong - this is the film Hayao Miyazaki intended. He is quoted in the L.A. Daily News as saying: "I intentionally tried to simplify things for this film. I figured that this movie should be seen by 5-year-olds, since they are the main characters. So I made the storytelling easy to understand. I figured they could watch it later as adults and understand the more complex parts of it, so I didn't foreground those elements." In hindsight he may be right -- from a young person's perspective what matters is just the magical relation between two young children, and from their perspective everything else, the fate of the cosmos, even, hinges on that.

Like most of his films, there is an ecological message here, that humans tend to ignore the wonders around them and treat carelessly the gift of the earth. Here it is expressed in an entertaining and magical story that will be easily understood by children. While, from the perspective of an adult viewer, I found this film less fully satisfying than masterpieces like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, or even the delicate and rich My Neighbor Totoro - which is the closest in spirit to this film - still it contains some remarkable and beautiful imagery and delightful moments. Well worth watching, and a very lovely and simple introduction to the work of one of the most inventive and important animated storytellers alive. There's no one else quite like him, and we're lucky to have another Miyazaki film, especially given his initial plans to retire upon completing the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away. Highly recommended.

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More Ponyo reviews
review by . March 03, 2013
posted in ASIANatomy
Miyazaki has been a favorite of mine for many years. If there is one artist I can say has never let me down, it is Miyazaki (well, him and Tolkien, so you see how highly I regard his work). Every one of his movies are amazing, from his epic masterpieces Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, to his more down to earth family affairs such as Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. So how does Ponyo stack up against the other films in Miyazaki's arsenal?     Well, …
review by . August 17, 2009
Ponyo is the latest creation by the master animation director Hayao Miyazaki, and it is completely hand drawn, and in the world of CG dominating the world of animation, this is a welcome and refreshing change of pace.      Ponyo is a magical gold fish, her father is a humanoid living under the sea named Fujimoto, and her mother is a goddess of the ocean, and one day, she was caught in a glass jar while escaping a fishing net, and was rescued by a little boy named Sosuke.  …
review by . September 20, 2009
posted in ASIANatomy
U.S. poster
     Among my favorite anime films are Hayao Miyazaki‘s “Princess Mononoke” and “Spirited Away” (won Best Animated film); those two films are truly masterworks of animation accompanied by a very intricate storyline. “Howl’s Moving Castle” was good but I thought it was a bit of a mixed bag. Miyazaki’s eighth film for Japanese animation company “Studio Ghibli”, “PONYO On The Cliff” (full title: Gake No Ue …
review by . August 17, 2009
Sosuke and Ponyo take a look underwater
Miyazaki's films are refreshing for their even pacing and tempered characters. A far cry from the neurosis of Disney characters where everyone is shouting and riding on high octane. Ponyo is almost completely silent in its first 10 or 15 minutes, and even when the dialoug begins it has more of a sobering effect. If you pair that with the gorgeous hand drawn characters and hand painted backgrounds you suddenly remember what animation felt like twenty-plus years ago.      The story …
review by . August 10, 2010
posted in ASIANatomy
Ponyo (which is also known as Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) is a film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. For this film, Miyazaki chose to make a completely 2D film, and not utilize any 3D computer effects. This approach gives Ponyo a very distinct feel when compared to some of the more recent films that have been produced by Studio Ghibli. However, I believe that the simplicity of the animation really works well with the story being told in the film. Ponyo is a very family-friendly film, and …
review by . August 18, 2009
From Hayao Miyazaki, the master of Japanese animation, comes a story similar to The Little Mermaid, where a small and ever-so-cute fish-like female becomes infatuated with a land dwelling male, and moves heaven and earth, and a lot of ocean to try to make her dream come true.       Short attention span summary (SASS):       1. Fish girl lives with her father and siblings in an aquarium-like home inside a really cool submarine with flippers.    2. …
Quick Tip by . April 07, 2010
I really enjoyed the animation & music, but the story & characters were severely under-developed. Plot felt rushed.
review by . September 02, 2009
Title: Ponyo    Director: Hayao Miyzaki    Starring: Cate Blanchett, Noah Cyrus, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Frankie Jonas, Cloris Leachman, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin, Betty White    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1    Studio: Studio Ghibli    Genre(s): Family    Rated:            I'm not normally so blunt in my movie reviews, but I think to beat around the bush for a Hayao Miyazaki film is a futile attempt. So I'll put …
Quick Tip by . October 30, 2009
An endearing movie that will appeal more to younger viewers, but adults will also enjoy. See it If you liked Miyazaki films like Totoro!
About the reviewer
Nathan Andersen ()
Ranked #69
I teach philosophy at Eckerd College, in Saint Petersburg, Florida.      I run an award-winning International Cinema series in Tampa Bay (www.eckerd.edu/ic), and am co-director of … more
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Wiki


Ponyo
is a 2008 Japanese animated film by Studio Ghibli, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is Miyazaki's eighth film for Ghibli, and his tenth overall. The plot centers on a goldfish named Ponyo who befriends a five-year-old human boy Sōsuke and wants to become a human girl.

The film has won several awards, including the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year. It was released in Japan on July 19, 2008 and August 14, 2009 in the US and Canada, where it reached #9 in the box office charts for its opening weekend.

The plot is centered on a fish girl who lives in an aquarium in her father's underwater castle with numerous smaller sisters. When her father takes her and her siblings on an outing in his four-flippered submarine, she is driven by a desire to see even more of the world and runs away. She ends up stranded on the shore and is rescued by Sōsuke, a five year old boy who lives on a cliff. After taking a great liking to her, Sōsuke names her Ponyo and promises to protect her forever. Meanwhile, her father, Fujimoto, is looking for his daughter, upset that she ran away. He calls his wave spirits to return Ponyo to him. Sōsuke is heartbroken by this, and goes home with his mother, Lisa (or "Risa" in some translations), who tries to cheer him up, but to no avail. Ponyo and her father have a confrontation, where Ponyo refuses to let her father call her "Brünnhilde". She declares her name to be Ponyo, and voices her desire to ...
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Details

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Genre: Family
Release Date: 14 August 2009 (USA)
MPAA Rating: G
Screen Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
DVD Release Date: March 2, 2010
Runtime: 101 minutes
Studio: Studio Ghibli
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