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Ponyo (on the Cliff by the Sea) (2008)

So Ponyo is a Japanese animated movie from 2008, but I waited for the English dub version - not that I have an aversion to subtitles or anything. I've seen all of Hayao Miyazaki's brilliantly magical films dubbed in English and the voice acting is always satisfactory to excellent. Ponyo is Miyazaki's retelling of the fairytale The Little Mermaid. A little fish girl, Ponyo (voiced by Noah Cyrus, Miley's little sister) is caught by a little human boy, Sosuke (voiced by Frankie Jonas - yes a Jonas Brother). Sosuke carries Ponyo around in a plastic bucket and becomes very fond of the magical little fish. When Fujimoto (voiced by Liam Neeson), Ponyo's dad, finds out she's on land and friends with a human, he sends waves and fish to fetch little Ponyo. Both Sosuke and Ponyo are devastated to be apart, so Ponyo uses her magic to turn into a human girl and return to Sosuke. Together, Ponyo learns how to be a human and Sosuke learns about magic while always being pursued by Fujimoto. Eventually, like all the best fairytales, everyone finds their place in the world and they live happily ever after.

I've come to the conclusion that it is impossible to be disappointed by a Miyazaki film. While Ponyo is not his best, it still carries the same enchanting innocence and imaginative charm. The story is a masterfully crafted twist on a classic tale and the characters are as quirky and unique as ever (other voice actors in the English dub cast: Cate Blanchet, Tina Fey, Cloris Leachman, Betty White and Lily Tomlin, if that says anything). Visually, Ponyo makes me long for more 2D animation that's so beautifully mastered. I find the hand drawn waves curling and splashing much more breathtaking that the supposedly awe-inspiring computer rendered scenes of movies like Avatar or Disney-Pixar productions.

Writing: 10/10
Acting (voice): 9/10
Plot: 9/10
Visuals: 10/10


Adam said...

I was fortunate enough to see this film in the theater, also dubbed. I agree with your assessment, it is much more satisfying to see beautiful hand-drawn art work in a movie.

The ending, though, really killed this film for me. It's not a deal-breaker, but it comes close.

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