Region: 2 - Japan
Length: 101 minutes
Subtitles: English, Japanese
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
From the Academy Award-winning director and world-renowned Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki comes PONYO, a story inspired by Hans Christian Andersenís fairy tale "The Little Mermaid."
Ghibli films are always greatly anticipated by many anime fans. Miyazaki's films in particular are some of the most popular and loved animated features to come from Japan.
Fans have been eagerly waiting for Hayao Miyazaki's newest feature Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. Being keen to see the movie we picked up the Japanese DVD.
The first thing we noticed about the movie was how the style is different from Miyazaki's previous works. The colours used are more pastel like giving it that child like feel. The backgrounds seem slightly less detailed than you'd expect from Miyazaki film too. This isn't off putting, it's a style that suits the film. The second thing that hit me was how spectacular the animation is. Ghibli features are always of the highest quality, but with Ponyo it seems that the there were more of those special Ghibli moments than usual.
In custom with Otaku News reviews, I'll stay clear of any spoilers. The film is basically Miyazaki's take on the classic Little Mermaid fairly tail. The film is set in coastal town in current day modern Japan. It follows the adventures of Ponyo, the little fish like creature who desires to be human once she gets swept onto shore and meets a 5 year old boy called Sōsuke.
The story has two threads: a simple story of the friendship of Ponyo and Sōsuke and a wider story of saving the planet. The second thread seems a bit unnecessary. Miyazaki's shown how he can do the simplest of story with the most beautiful execution, the fate of the earth doesn't need to be mixed in there too!
As we were watching the Japanese DVD, we couldn't try the English dub though it did have English subtitles. The Japanese voice acting is excellent, with the children sounding like 5 year olds. Long time Ghibli collaborator and composer Joe Hisaishi provides a great sound score as always.
Like many of Miyazaki's movies it has that certain timeless quality. The cars look modern, but you know it will age well. Fans of Ghibli will also notice the tradition of Miyazaki "casting the same actors" in his features. There's an old lady who looks like the Witch of the Waste from Howl. Fujimoto looks like an older, worse for wear Howl. Lisa looks like Satsuki grown up. A green bucket should also be added to cast list of any websites and wiki's featuring Ponyo, as it gets prominent screen time.
Miyazaki is well known for his love of flight. After seeing Ponyo, there's another trend we noticed: his love of goo. In Princess Mononoke the night night-walker had goo effects, in Spirited Away it was No Face, in Howl he expresses himself with green slime. In Ponyo, well you'll see more goo.
Ponyo is everything you expect from a Miyazaki movie. It's beautifully animated, it looks almost effortless. It has that heart warming quality that Miyazaki does so well. It's suitable for younger audiences as well as the average Otaku and has a similar feel to Totoro or Kiki.
It's nice to see Ghibli making features like this. It's well worth watching and was certainly worth the wait. If you like Miyazaki's movies, you'll like this.