This article is rated G, meaning all ages admitted.
Ponyo (Japanese: 崖の上のポニョ Hepburn: Gake no Ue no Ponyo, literally "Ponyo on the Cliff"), initially titled in English as Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, is a 2008 Japanese animated fantasy comedy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. It is the eighth film Miyazaki directed for Ghibli, and his tenth overall. The film stars the voices of Tomoko Yamaguchi, Kazushige Nagashima, Yūki Amami, George Tokoro, Yuria Nara, Hiroki Doi, Rumi Hiiragi, Akiko Yano, Kazuko Yoshiyuki and Tomoko Naraoka. The plot centers on a goldfish named Ponyo who befriends a five-year-old human boy, Sōsuke, and wants to become a human girl.
The film was released in Japan on July 19, 2008, in the US and Canada on August 14, 2009, and in the UK on February 12, 2010. It earned over US$201 million worldwide and won several awards, including the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year.
SPOILER: Plot details follow.
Brunhilde is a fish-girl who lives with her father Fujimoto, a once-human wizard/scientist who now lives underwater, along with her numerous smaller sisters. One day, while she and her siblings are on an outing with their father in his four-flippered submarine, Brunhilde sneaks off and floats away on the back of a jellyfish. After an encounter with a fishing trawler (the net of which is scraping the trash-strewn bottom of the harbor), she ends up stuck in a glass jar. She drifts to the shore of a small fishing town and is found and rescued by a small boy named Sōsuke. Shattering the jar open with a nearby rock, Sōsuke cuts his finger in the process. Brunhilde licks his wound when he picks her up and the wound heals almost instantly, much to his surprise. After taking a great liking to her, and thinking her merely a goldfish, Sōsuke renames her Ponyo and promises to protect her forever. Meanwhile, a distraught Fujimoto searches frantically for his taken daughter. Because of his own unpleasant memories of the human world, he believes that Sōsuke has kidnapped her and that she is in great danger, he calls his wave spirits to recover her. After the wave spirits retrieve Ponyo from Sōsuke, the boy is heartbroken. He goes home with his mother, Lisa, who tries to cheer him up.
Back underwater, Ponyo and Fujimoto have an argument, during which Ponyo refuses to let her father call her by her birth-name, "Brunhilde". She declares her name to be Ponyo and voices her desire to become human, because she has started to fall in love with Sōsuke. Suddenly, using her magic, she forces herself to grow leg and arm-like appendages and start changing into a human, a power granted to her by the human blood she ingested when she licked Sōsuke's finger. Her alarmed father forces her to change back into her true form with some difficulty and goes to summon Ponyo's mother, Granmamare. Meanwhile, Ponyo, with the help of her sisters, breaks away from her father and in the chaos inadvertently uses her magic to make herself fully human. The huge amount of magic that she also inadvertently releases into the ocean causes an imbalance in the world, resulting in a huge tsunami. Running pell-mell over the waves of the storm, Ponyo goes back to Sōsuke, who is amazed and overjoyed to see her. Lisa is equally amazed, but takes Ponyo's transformation in stride, believing the world to be truly mysterious. Lisa, Sōsuke, and Ponyo wait out the storm at Sōsuke's house, where Ponyo learns of some of the things in the human world and is much enchanted by these new experiences. Worried about the residents of the nursing home where she works, Lisa leaves to check up on them, promising Sōsuke that she will return as soon as possible.
Granmamare arrives at Fujimoto's submarine. Sōsuke's father, Kōichi, sees her traveling and recognizes her as the Goddess of Mercy. Fujimoto notices the moon appears to be falling out of its orbit and satellites are falling like shooting stars, symptoms of the dangerous imbalance of nature that now exists. Granmamare declares that if Sōsuke can pass a test, Ponyo can live as a human and that the order of the world will be restored. A still-worried Fujimoto reminds her that if Sōsuke fails the test, Ponyo will turn into sea foam.
Sōsuke and Ponyo wake up to find that most of the land around the house has been covered by the ocean. Since it is impossible for Lisa to come home, the two children decide to find her. With the help of Ponyo's magic, they make Sōsuke's toy pop pop boat life-size and set out across the swollen ocean.
Over the course of their journey, they see prehistoric fish swimming beneath them, and encounter several other evacuees in boats. After landing and finding Lisa's empty car, Ponyo and Sōsuke head into a tunnel. There Ponyo loses her human form due to overuse of her magical power to help Sōsuke and others and reverts into a fish form. Meanwhile, Lisa and the residents of the nursing home are waiting excitedly for Ponyo and Sōsuke below the surface, but have been temporarily given the power to breathe underwater.
Sōsuke and Ponyo encounter Fujimoto, but Sōsuke doesn't trust him due to Toki's claims and attempts to flee. However, Fujimoto quickly captures them and takes them down to the protected nursing home.
Sōsuke is reunited with Lisa and meets Granmamare, with whom Lisa has just had a long private conversation. Granmamare asks Sōsuke if he can love Ponyo whether she is a fish or human. Sōsuke replies that he "loves all the Ponyos." Granmamare then tells her daughter that if she chooses to become human once and for all, she will have to give up her magical powers. Ponyo agrees to this, so Granmamare encases her in a bubble and gives her to Sōsuke, and tells him that kissing the bubble will complete Ponyo's transformation. The balance of nature is thus restored, and the previously stranded ships, including Sōsuke's father's, head back to port. Ponyo then joyfully jumps high in the air and kisses Sōsuke, transforming back into a human.
Spoilers end here.
Hayao Miyazaki, the film's director and writer, said his inspiration was the Hans Christian Andersen story "The Little Mermaid," but his inspiration was more abstract than a story. Along with animation director Katsuya Kondo and art director Noboru Yoshida, Miyazaki devised a set of goals which included to use traditional animation entirely in Ponyo, pursuing the animation and art possibilities without struggling under the demands of the production schedule, showing the quality of Yoshida's artwork as well as celebrating the innocence and cheerfulness of a child's universe. Production of Ponyo began in May 2006, while key animation of Ponyo began in October of that year.
Miyazaki was intimately involved with the hand-drawn animation in Ponyo. He preferred to draw the sea and waves himself, and enjoyed experimenting with how to express this important part of the film. The level of detailed drawing present in the film resulted in 170,000 separate images—a record for a Miyazaki film.
Ponyo's name is an onomatopoeia, based on Miyazaki's idea of what a "soft, squishy softness" sounds like when touched.
The seaside village where the story takes place is inspired by Tomonoura, a real town in Setonaikai National Park in Japan, where Miyazaki stayed in 2005. Some of the setting and story was affected by Richard Wagner's opera Die Walküre. The music also makes reference to Wagner's opera. The character of Sōsuke is based on Miyazaki's son Gorō Miyazaki when he was five. Sōsuke's name is taken from the hero in the novel The Gate by famous Japanese novelist Natsume Sōseki.
The name of the ship on which Sōsuke's father works is Koganeimaru, a reference to Studio Ghibli's location in Koganei, Tokyo. Maru (丸?) is a common ending for ship names.
Miyazaki wanted his next film to be Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea 2 but producer Toshio Suzuki convinced him to make The Wind Rises instead.
The film has received critical acclaim from critics upon its release. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 97% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 81 reviews, with an average score of 3.8/14. The critical consensus is "Blending top notch animation with rousing adventure, witty dialogue, and memorable characters, Ponyo is another Pixar winner." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 68 based on 12 reviews."
The film was released by Toho on July 19, 2008, in theatres across Japan on 481 screens—a record for a domestic film. It grossed ¥10 billion ($91 million) in its first month of release, and a total of ¥15.0 billion ($153.1 million) as of November 9, 2008. As it had beaten Pocket Monsters Diamond & Pearl the Movie: Giratina and the Bouquet of the (Frozen) Sky: Shaymin.
Tokyo Anime Fair chose 'Ponyo' as Animation of the Year of 2008, as revealed in a press release by Anime News Network.
Ponyo was released in the U.S. and Canada on August 14, 2009 by Walt Disney Pictures and The Kennedy/Marshall Company, opening at a wide release at 927 theaters across America, which is by far the widest release for a Studio Ghibli film ever in the U.S, as compared to other Miyazaki films (Spirited Away opened in 26 theaters, Howl's Moving Castle opened in 36 theaters, and Princess Mononoke opened in 38 theaters).
The film's English dub was directed by John Lasseter, Brad Lewis and Peter Sohn of Pixar and produced by Frank Marshall, Hayao Miyazaki, John Lasseter, Steve Alpert, and Kathleen Kennedy; the English script was written by Melissa Mathison.
In July 2009, there were multiple pre-screenings of the film in California. Miyazaki traveled to America to promote this film by speaking at the University of California, Berkeley and the San Diego Comic-Con.
To read the main transcript for the film, go here.
To read the main transcript of the trailers for the film, go here.
- Main article: Ponyo/Awards
- US: G
- Canada: G (Some Areas)
- Japan: G
|Ponyo||United States and Canada||August 14, 2009|
|"崖の上のポニョ"||Japan||July 19, 2008
More international releases coming soon! Feel free to add some.