Ponyo: A Fantastical Tale

By: 14thLord

Release: 2008
Category: Fantasy
Also known as: Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

Beginning Ponyo, we're delivered a beautiful hand drawn piece, shown a underwater world filled with life and variety. We begin with a man who's somehow capable of maintaining himself in what appears to be a air bubble, doing what seems mundane tasks, at least to him. It is during these chores, that we first meet these human faced fish. While I understand it is meant to be enchanting creatures, I was horrified by it. Perhaps it was here I realized that I may intemperate this movie differently than most.

Coming a little too close to the surface, the titular character first meets Sasuke, the central protagonist of this movie, only to then go on a spree of misadventures in a brush with humanity. It is here we get to see the movies anti-human viewpoint as the trash

Finding Ponyo washed ashore with trash, Sasuke picks her up, just in time to keep her away from being rescued by her fathers minions, in a seen that sent a chill down my spine, followed by a “what the crap?”. As the wave attempts to take Ponyo back to her father, Sasuke rushes to shore, witnessing eyes in the water as it let out a moan. His response to this? “That was weird.”

Terrifying is the word I'd of personally used.

The storyline for Ponyo is very simplistic, revolving around Sasuke and out titular character, Ponyo. Bringing the human faced fish home to his mother, somehow convinced it's a simple gold fish. It isn't until a old lady takes a look that anyone even so much as bats a eye to it. Despite being completely sensible that she's startled by a human faced fish, the movie makes it come off as if she's the unreasonable one in all of this.

Alas her father rescues her and takes her back to the see, after a spree of antics, but not before it gets the craving for blood and flesh.

Ponyo, knowing the taste of flesh and blood, demands to return to the surface. Of course her father fears Ponyo's new found desire for the blood of other creatures, and leaves to request the aid of her mother who's the "Mother of the Sea." While he's gone, Ponyo makes her get away.

Escaping from her father captivity, Ponyo brings forward the apocalypse. Not even kidding. The moon is falling because of her, and the oceans are rising in a flood. Of course everything turns out all happy and whimsical by the end, but still.

Plot: 5/10
The Plot is simple, and requires no thinking. If you think about the events, it gives you a horrifying tale, while treating it as light hearted fantasy. While I'm very tempted to categorize this as Horror, it's clearly meant to be conceived as a light hearted tale of a fish learning about humanity, and wishing to become one. Similar to the tale of Disney's: The Little Mermaid. Of course, Disney was happy to distribute this in the United States.

Fun Factor: 7/10
I suppose many would say that Ponyo takes you on a wonderful journey? To me it felt very disney-esque in its story. Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki do what they're famous for doing, giving you a wonderful adventure in a bright and colorful world. Unfortunately, if you desire anything more than that, it may leave you on the opposite end of the scale for enjoyment.

Sound & Art: 8/10
The artstyle while not my personal preference, is clearly a step up compared to standard animation. The world is amazingly rich and full with little details, with near no computer assistance. The music itself is pretty wonderful as well, though nothing particularly exceptional nor memorable.

English Dubbing: 10/10
The english dubbing was done quite well. Often when doing shows with children or young / cute looking characters, american studios fall under the trap of using girls and speaking in painful falsetto tones. In Ponyo's case, new voice talents, kids under the age of 10 and other who've never done any work in anime. While never working again in anime, they've done countless other works, live and voice. Liam Neeson voiced Ponyo's father, who you may recognize as Qui-Gon from Star Wars.

Overall: 7/10
If you like to be taken on a wonderful, colorful adventure, Ponyo's the movie for you. Never does it take the circumstances too seriously. Thankfully so as the ramifications of Ponyo's actions are world threatening, and could easily turn nightmare fuel. Alas, if you've enjoyed Studio Ghibli's other works such as My Neighbor Totoro, The Cat Returns, of Howl's Moving Castle, you'll love this.

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