Ponyo



Since this is Hayao Miyazaki's most recent work, I was curious to see how it would measure up against the classic animated features and wrote and directed in the past. So I was rather disappointed to realize that I had just missed it when it disappeared from the screen last fall. Fortunately enough, I was able to catch it at a discount cinema not too long ago with my goddaughter Angélique. The DVD should be out in a few weeks, but I wanted to see a Miyazaki movie on the big screen.

Here's the blurb:

From the Academy Award®-winning director and world-renowned Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki comes PONYO, a story inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale “The Little Mermaid.” Already a box-office success in Japan, the story of a young and overeager goldfish named Ponyo (voiced by NOAH CYRUS) and her quest to become human features an outstanding roster of voice talent, including CATE BLANCHETT, MATT DAMON, TINA FEY, CLORIS LEACHMAN, LIAM NEESON, LILY TOMLIN, BETTY WHITE and FRANKIE JONAS as Sosuke, a young boy who befriends Ponyo.

Generating close to 15 million dollars in the USA, this Miyazaki work did rather well compared to the others. To give you an idea, Howl's Moving Castle only generated about 4.5 million dollars on American soil in 2005. But considering the big names Disney brings to the dance, I can't help but think that they don't do enough in terms of marketing to make these animated films a success. After all, Ponyo grossed over 150 million dollars in Japan alone. The weird thing is that Miyazaki's movies are almost always better than the American animated features, so kids should love them as much or more than the highest grossing animated movies that hit the jackpot on the box office.

Unlike other Miyazaki films, Ponyo is thoroughly aimed at children. Hence, it's a good thing I went with my goddaughter, otherwise I would likely not have appreciated it as much. Though at its heart it's not as magical as My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo is a cute fairy tale that will nevertheless satisfy kids of all ages.

On the production front, Hayao Miyazaki got involved with the hand-drawn animation like never before. He preferred to draw the sea and waves himself, enjoying experimenting with how to express this important aspect of the movie. Such level of detailed drawing resulted in 170,000 separate images, the highest number of hand-drawn pieces in a Miyazaki film to date. For all that, though the visual effects are spectacular, I felt that Ponyo was not as breathraking as Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. Both of these Japanese animated features are probably Miyazaki at his peak.

As usual, the talented Joe Hisaishi produced a wonderful soundtrack that captures every mood and emotion perfectly. I think that a Miyazaki film scored by anyone else would not feel the same. Hisaishi's music always complements the imagery, the plot, and the characters as if the man had been part of the creative process from the very first day when Miyazaki began to write the script.

Ponyo, Sōsuke, and Lisa are endearing characters that kids will love, while the more ambiguous Granmamare and Fujimoto will probably appeal more to grown-ups. All in all, the characterization worked well. If one considers that Ponyo is aimed at a much younger crowd than Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away, of course.

Unlike Howl's Moving Castle, a good pace is maintained throughout Ponyo, preventing this one from getting bogged down by a number of boring parts. If you have children at home or if you remain young at heart, Ponyo should not disappoint.=)

Not as great as some other Miyazaki titles, but still a cute and entertaining movie in its own right.

Here's the trailer:





For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

7 commentaires:

Salt-Man Z said...

"Ham!"

Juhan said...

GAAAH, PAT, YOU CAN'T WATCH ANIME IN ENGLISH! Download the original-language version. Or watch the thing on a DVD where you can select the language for yourself, PLEASE! The English in anime is always just plain WRONG, no matter how talented actors they get. There are no exceptions. Subtitles don't bite - so what's the problem!?

Juhan said...

(P. S. I love the blog and all.)

Anonymous said...

There's nothing wrong with watching an anime with a good dub. Especially going with his goddaughter who is probably too young to read or follow subtitles.
I won't argue that most dubs are inferior to listening to the original audio but to argue the point at every opportunity is a bit meh. Tbh I wouldn't watch Full Metal Alchemist with the original audio now, those american voice actors did a great job in my opinion and any other voice would seem wrong.
I will say though that you shoud avoid the english dub on Grave of the Fireflies for sure, Pat. Which you are going to watch next, right? Right?! :D

Ramah.

Thomas said...

It's definitely a good thing that you saw it with a young-one. I saw it with my daughters, and they both loved it, even though my youngest was only 13 months old at the time. The bright colors and imagery were just in perfect harmony with the pacing.

And, of course, my daughter and I were singing "Ponyo, Ponyo..." for weeks afterward.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Juhan; watching Ponya in English is torture! It is espeacially horrid what they did to the theme song (the one in the end). The Japanese version is funny and catchy and so full of good mood. Song in English version is totally different song (also somewhat catchy, I admit, but not so good).

Nick said...

I have to agree- I could have done without that final song. Other than that, it was a neat movie, but I agree that it's not on the level of his other films.