- Doesn't make you feel like a child again; it makes you a child again 10/10/2012 12:00:00 AM by tuomas_gimli
Ponyo is without a doubt one of the loveliest films I've seen. I don't think anyone with a soul can be without smiling at least once during this wonderful piece of work from the hands of animation legend Hayao Miyazaki. There is so much to love about Ponyo.
The story bears a vague resemblance to Little Mermaid. The main character, a 5-year old boy named Sosuke, finds a goldfish in a bottle on the beach and decides to name it Ponyo. Through a series of events Ponyo ends up wanting to become human, and then they have a little adventure together. In traditional terms, there hardly is a story: there's no conflict, no main villain, no overall goal to achieve and very little character development. Yet none of this will ever bother, because the visuals, the animation and the pure joy the film absolutely oozes of are so overwhelming they drown out any complaints I might have about the film.
That said, the movie really has to have a visual edge if it is to drown out everything else. In that regard Ponyo truly delivers. Everything looks eye-poppingly gorgeous from the water effects to the expressive and instantly distinguishable characters. Most have praised the water effects as the show stealer, but for me it is the animation of the children. Just watching Ponyo run, jump and bounce around with the sheer unbridled joy of a child is a wonder to watch. Look at Sosuke's expressions the first time he hears Ponyo talk: I bet that's exactly how you would have looked like if you'd found as a child that your pet could talk. The audio is also excellent, with thudding sound effects and a riveting musical score that makes even the smallest moments feel meaningful. Ponyo's voice actor is the icing on the cake, giving a performance so adorable it's almost unbearable.
But the most effective part of Ponyo is its atmosphere, which is quite hard to describe. In short, Ponyo makes you feel like a child adventuring in the woods again. The seemingly limitless positive energy the film has reminds us of the innocence of childhood, when nothing bad could really happen, because there always was someone looking after you. It's also in the little details: for example, we hardly ever see Sosuke's mother unless he himself is in the same scene. The main conflict is only slightly hinted at, resembling the kind of things only grownups talked about and understood when we were kids.
In summation, Ponyo is a fantastic, beautiful work of pure joy that can be enjoyed by any ages. You need to see this film last week.
- A fine return to form for Studio Ghibli. 4/8/2010 12:00:00 AM by lewiskendell
I'm a 24 year old male, and I'm proud to say that Ponyo is one of the cutest and most delightful movies that I've ever seen in my life. I watched the entire movie with a big, silly grin on my face.?
I needed a good animated experience to remove the mediocrity of Howl's Moving Castle from my brain, and Ponyo more than delivered. It's a simply beautiful movie (which is to be expected), but so was Howl. What makes Ponyo so much better, is that it sticks to a simple story, and tells it very well. This was obviously made so a younger child could easily follow it, but it's equally as captivating for adult viewers.
There's no big world-ending disaster to prevent, no dastardly villain to escape, and no heavy-handed moral. There is a very slight message about taking care of the oceans, but that never interferes with the charming little story that's being told. Things never become bigger than the relationship between a 5 year-old boy, and his unusual new friend. And the plot greatly benefits from that narrow focus. If I absolutely must nitpick, the middle of the movie wasn't quiet as marvelous as the excellent beginning and strong ending. Still, I'd recommend this movie to absolutely anyone. If you don't like it, you just don't have a heart.??? ?
- "Ponyo" 4/6/2010 12:00:00 AM by colinrgeorge
For a select few, the arrival of a new Hayao Miyazaki film is more celebrated than any of Pixar's blockbusters, and with good reason, as each of the renowned Japanese director's traditionally animated features takes upwards of three years to produce. The worlds he depicts are beautiful, teeming with life, color, and spirit, and "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea," his latest, is no exception.
Allegedly Miyazaki's final film, he abandoned even the aid of computers in crafting "Ponyo," each frame being hand drawn and colored by his Studio Ghibli artists, and with stunning results. From its lush island vistas to busy underwater seascapes, the film offers definitive proof to the superiority (or if nothing else, credence for the continuation) of traditional animation.
The sweeping elegance of the art renders Miyazaki's films generally unhatable, but the emotional honesty of his characters is what makes them timeless. As a father of two, his knack for exploring the family dynamic from a child's perspective is revelatory. The children lucky enough to live in Miyazaki's imagination exemplify not only what makes real children cute or endearing, but also what makes them stubborn and vulnerable.
Enter Sosuke, voiced in the English dub by baby Jonas brother, Frankie, who transcends his gimmicky casting and delivers a warm and compelling performance as "Ponyo's" protagonist. Opposite him (fittingly enough) is teenybopper Miley Cyrus' little sister Noah, who does a fine job as well, though is limited mostly to high-pitched sentence fragments like "Ponyo loves Sosuke!"
The two meet on the shore below Sosuke's cliffside home after Ponyo, a princess of the sea, has eluded her father and unwittingly caught herself in a tiny glass jar, from which Sosuke frees her. The plot is more freeform than some of Miyazaki's previous works, but perhaps all the more magic for it. The universe of "Ponyo" isn't painstakingly established, and the supernatural and the incredible routinely go unquestioned, existing in an alternate plane of reality which keeps the film feeling spontaneous and often wonderful.
If "Ponyo" does prove to be Miyazaki's last film, it could potentially suffer from "Eyes Wide Shut" syndrome, symptoms of which include unfair comparisons to its director's previous work and microscope-level nitpicking, which is entirely undeserved. The film is not his career-redefining masterwork, nor is it in any way unworthy of the legacy that preceded it. It's objectively, independently great. "Ponyo" has a simple beauty to it that rivals that of "My Neighbor Totoro," and fantasy sequences that recall the best of "Spirited Away."
For its great cast (Tina Fey, Matt Damon Cate Blanchett, and Liam Neeson comprise a great dub, however blasphemous that may sound to Miyazaki purists), easy-going earnestness, and beautifully inventive visuals, "Ponyo" is my pick for animated film of the year, 'up- setting' Pixar's 2009 heavyweight, which had emotion to spare but came up short in adventure.
But those select few will share my disappointment when the envelope is opened and the monosyllabic winner is read on Oscar night. Miyazaki's latest is worthwhile even for those who associate Japanese animated films with stuffy conventions and overweight teens in costumes. "Ponyo" is a modern family classic on par with "The Little Mermaid" and the rest of the Disney golden-era library.
Miyazaki is a magician, and like a magician, everything he shows you isn't essential to your comprehension of the trick, but the end result is so beautiful that there's no sense in questioning it.
- Fish be with you 7/7/2009 12:00:00 AM by Jay_Exiomo
Like the 5-year old protagonists of his latest opus, Hayao Miyazaki's "Ponyo" enchants with its unbridled innocence as though the anime-meister has become a child himself in weaving a narrative that relishes in its simplicity and emits an infectious charm in the process. Miyazaki, recalling his earlier works, paints a brightly-colored world obviously geared for the younger audiences and the raw effervescence gleefully strips off the grim thematic elements that distinguish its immediate predecessors.
Ponyo (voiced lovably by Yuria Nara), a fish with a young girl's face (making her look like a cuddly child in a pink overgrown Halloween costume), escapes away from her underwater home and her school of siblings to explore the surface. Stranded ashore, she is rescued by Sosuke (Hiroki Doi), a five-year old boy who, along with his mom Risa (Tomoko Yamaguchi), resides in a house on the nearby cliff. This initial encounter and, eventually, friendship, has a profound effect on Ponyo who now wishes to become human, but by becoming so inadvertently tips nature's balance and unleashes a maelstrom on land. With Sosuke's help, Ponyo must pass a test to lift this curse and completely become a human.
Despite the plot lacking the philosophical sophistication of, say, his most recent "Spirited Away," "Ponyo" is nothing short of an astounding follow-up, characterized by the extremely diligent attention to detail and masterful balancing of the real and the fantastic, and of the simple joys and great fears. It's a straightforward tale that, though at times stalled by its tendency to ramble like a toddler, keeps in tune with its youthful pedigree to magically enthrall. "I will protect you," Sosuke tells Ponyo matter-of-factly, a childlike assertion not unlike the manner in which Miyazaki endows his story with artful spirit.
- A Miyazaki classic geared towards a much, much younger audience 7/2/2009 12:00:00 AM by jpnzrunna20
I have been reading a lot of different opinions and reviews of this movie, and I understand why a lot of people get mixed feelings about Ponyo, whether it be the story line, animation, dialogue, and so forth. And I believe the most simple way I can answer to this, is that it's a movie for a much, much younger age bracket. An age bracket much younger than that of Tonarino Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro).
Being a Miyazaki fan like the majority of the surfers on this site, I expected the wonderful animation, music composition, complex story telling, the great steady development of characters, how the story intertwines with today's society, etc etc etc of a typical Miyazaki film that we grew up with. And to tell you the truth, I didn't quite understand what the hell this story was supposed to be about or what the hell was going on until an hour and twenty minutes (with twenty minutes left in the movie), that this movie is NOT for the deep thinkers and hard core Ghibli-ists, but for the toddlers and youngins' and happy go lucky Japanese people. Also, I believe this movie is based on simplicity and creative animation; straight-up grass roots Ghibli Studios style.
The fact that a villain is not present really surprised me, other than the father and maybe that crazy-ass typhoon. But other than that, this movie is just plain fun; to stimulate a young one's mind, and to make happy good time feeling. That's all.
The animation goes back to the old-school mid-80s early-90s era of Miyazaki's films, where very specific detail wasn't a big focus, unlike Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke) and the latter. I admire the simplicity which kind of created some small nostalgia when I first watched Ghibli movies like Tonarino Totoro when I was a child. The reaction and movement of the children are all very similar to that of kids, and a lot of Studio Ghibli's body language is very noticeable. Studio Ghibli added some creative moments and sceneries that they can only do with it's wonderful animators, but it probably won't take the ritual Ghibli-ist in awe.
The Japanese dialogue also sounded very child friendly and a lot of scenes and dialogues are very, very relative from what Japanese kids and mothers would say and act. The music if very hoppy and "fluffy" I guess you could say (similar to Totoro) from beginning to end. Even the darker scenes didn't seem assertive.
In the end this movie is one of a kind. Just about every aspect of this movie is for children. And I waited a whole 80 mins to realize that. Quite frankly, I have never seen a movie told or shown it the way Miyazaki did. It's refreshing to see that Studio Ghibli can still tell a story for a wider, and much different scale of audience, and still keep that trademark Ghibli impression.