by The Wanderer
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Cast: Tomoko Yamaguchi, Kazushige Nagashima, Yuki Amami
Series: Studio Ghibli
MPAA Rating: G
Length: 103 Minutes
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Under the Sea
A young goldfish named Brunhilde lives with her father Fujimoto, a wizard/mad scientist that now lives underwater, and is jaded by his years of interacting with humans. After sneaking off from her father one day, and series of chance adventures, Brunhilde ends up in the possession of a young boy Sosuke. After healing a small wound Sosuke receives in picking up Brunhilde he renames her Ponyo, and the two begin a friendship.
It's Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli's take on The Little Mermaid. At least according to Miyazaki it is, but it's different from the Hans Christian Anderson story, and it's a lot different from the Disney version that many Americans grew up with.
Ponyo's journey to the surface, has no dialogue, and instead viewers are swept up in an array of colorful visuals. Ghibli gives the world it's take on the ocean, and the Studio lives up to it's now burgeoning mythic reputation in doing so. So beautiful an ocean it is, one has to wonder why Ponyo would ever leave? Joe Hisaishi delivers a sweeping score not only during these opening moments, but consistently throughout the movie. It's easily one of the best I've heard him do for a Miyazaki film.
It would've been easy for Miyazaki to cast Fujimoto as the villain, but he's a more complicated character than that. His qualms with humans on the surface are fairly legit, his desire to keep Ponyo protected, are no different than any other caring parent. With no clear cut villains, it's hard not to compare Ponyo to Miyazaki's classic My Neighbor Totoro.
Sosuke and Ponyo's friendship is the heart of the story. Sosuke is very mature for the young child that he is, it's almost to a point that it could be considered disturbing. This maturity is needed to counter Ponyo who's like that overactive child that drank a giant cup of coffee. She explores the land based world like she's still a fish, and it's details like that that not only make the film funny to watch but make you appreciate all the attention to detail that Miyazaki has consistently placed in his body of work.
If a film's made by Studio Ghibli, I like to say we rate it on the Ghibli scale, because if we didn't all there film's would be getting ten's and personally I like certain Ghibli film's better than others. Ponyo is a great film, make no mistake about it, but this is not what I would consider one of my favorite from the Studio.