Ponyo On A Cliff

Tezuka-sensei was once referred to as the Japanese Walt Disney. If anyone in the anime world today can claim the title, its Hayao Miazaki. Director of My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, and (a personal favorite) Spirited Away, Miyazaki creates worlds of unequalled beauty and imagination. His films are some of the few anime  that get a theatrical release in the states, courtesy, appropriately enough, of the Disney company. His latest film, Ponyo On A Cliff, continues this tradition.

Ponyo, a goldfish living in the sea, decides to  go against the wishes of her father, Fujimoto (who looks like a cross between a glam rock star and a character out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and travel to the surface world. She finds herself trapped  in a  jar, washed ashore beside a small fishing village, where she’s rescued by young Sosuke, a curious five-year old boy, who takes her as a new pet. Fujimoto is in pursuit, however, and Ponyo’s leaving wreaks havoc on the natural order of  both sea and land. Should the girl/goldfish return to her home, or can she live in the human realm?

With this film, Miyazaki once again proves that  CGI will never fully replace the kind of magic that only traditional animation can capture. The painstaking artistry, combined with the beautiful watercolor effect, create characters and environments that look as if they had walked out of a children’s book. As befitting a Miyazaki release, the American dub features an all-star cast, including Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, and Betty White. If you were not fortunate enough to have seen the film in theatres, I urge you to grab a copy on DVD while it’s still possible.

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1 Comment

  1. Great film, and surprisingly, my first experience with Miyazaki. I would point out that this is very much a children’s film. I took a 6 year old girl to see it and it was just perfect for her. As for me, I enjoyed it, but almost entirely for the visuals. Unlike typical Disney/Pixar/Dreamwoks productions, this movie doesn’t try to cross-appeal to adults by putting in the voices of wisecracking celebrities making jokes. PONYO remains firmly aimed at kids, and it can be refreshing for adults to try to get themselves into that mindset, I think.


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