Ponyo : 5 of 5
It’s been way too long since anything from Studio Ghibli has seen a US release, so I’m really happy that Disney decided to release Ponyo (Gake no Ue no Ponyo in Japanese) in theaters (thanks to Hayao Miyazaki’s good friendship with Disney’s John Lasseter)! With the exception of Pixar’s masterpieces, lately I’ve been getting a little tired of too much CG (even in live-action films), so I’ve been feeling nostalgic to see some classic, old-school creativity. Ponyo completely fulfilled my wish, since Miyazaki’s goal was to stay away from CG completely, so the movie was created entirely with watercolors and pastels. The effect is stunning, since you can see the “humanity” in every frame – being able to observe brushstrokes and crayon-ish lines makes Ponyo feel like true living artwork from start to finish! Miyazaki was inspired to make this movie after seeing Disney’s The Little Mermaid, but of course the fairy tale was only the seed for Miyazaki’s brilliant imagination, which always offers a menagerie of bizarre creatures (both real and mythical) that made me gasp many times. Ponyo herself is amazingly cute – her far-apart bug-eyes when she is a fish really did remind me of funny goldfish I’ve seen at the pet store, and she’s hilarious as a rambunctious girl jumping around and discovering a new life on land. I enjoyed Sosuke’s character, but I think I was more impressed with Sosuke’s mom, who displayed such a wide range of emotion (love for her son and the seniors contrasting with a tough attitude) and was great looking to boot. But speaking of beauty, Gran Mamare (the “sea mother”) was absolutely breathtaking, with some of the most subtle facial animation I’ve seen in a long time! There are so many moments I could mention that I enjoyed, both funny and touching, such as Sosuke communicating with his dad across the ocean via signal light, or Ponyo using her powers to make Sosuke’s toy boat big enough to carry them. I can’t wait to watch Ponyo again on DVD, not only to take in the visuals again, but also to hear the original Japanese dialogue (Disney does a fine job of voice direction, but a dub can never compare to the original in my opinion!). Ponyo is simply required viewing for any fan of animation, and a wonderful, magical movie for anyone else to enjoy!