Review: Miyazaki's Gake no Ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea)
When preparing to watch a movie by acclaimed animation director Hayao Miyazaki, more often than not, it’s easy to predict what you’re in for. There’s going to be a lot of beautiful scenery and imagery; fantastical animals and characters; and a strong environmentally friendly message. You can also be guaranteed to finish with a smile on your face. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea did not disappoint.
The feel of the movie was much more childish, centering on a 5-year old boy, Sosuke and a small fish named Ponyo, a contrast to the last couple of Miyazaki films, which had older protagonists. The theme of the movie was also much younger in style, focusing more on the friendship between Ponyo and Sosuke and less on any one antagonist or large-scale threat. This allowed for more attention to be paid to the characters and their development, as opposed to a higher message.
The characters and setting pulled their share of the weight nicely. Miyazaki’s classic design, combined with wondrous sea creatures and vast seascapes painted a gorgeous picture. More and more it’s easier to realize that Miyazaki’s films are like art books in and of themselves. The image of Sosuke’s house on the hill set against a raging storm or a clear night sky evokes memories of nameless coastal towns. You can almost smell the salty tang of a crisp ocean breeze.
According to posted figures, Ponyo has managed to post box-office numbers second only to Spirited Away as compared to Miyazaki’s other films. Well worth the watch, but you’ll have to search for it. There’s no current date set for a domestic (U.S.) release, but Disney has managed to snatch up the rights to all of Miyazaki’s Ghibli films so far, so it’s safe to assume that it’s only a matter of time before it’s released out here.
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