The Paw Print
Ponyo, which was just released on DVD, is Hayao Miyazaki’s (Best known for Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Princess Mononoke)latest animated film. It’s an exciting and interesting adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Little Mermaid.
Ponyo is a far more candid and family-oriented film than others by Miyazaki. It is also not as dark Miyazaki’s most recent and highly talked about film Spirited Away (2001). The best part about this film being simpler and more modest than Miyazaki’s other films is that the viewer can clearly see the brilliant mind of the director.
In the beginning of the film, Ponyo sneaks out of the underwater fortress her father built and naps on a jellyfish that carries her farther from her safe home than she has ever been. Before her father can rescue her from her human captors, Ponyo begins the augmentation that brings her dreadfully close to becoming human. Her transformation causes the world which had not seen many rapid changes in its many years to become immersed in chaos when the moon descends from the sky, waters rise to engulf the land, and creatures that haven’t been alive since the Devonian period reclaim the oceans. The only hope that the world has of being saved is by Sosuke proving his love to Ponyo.
The worlds which Miyazaki is known for creating are forever changing, making it impossible to label them. In his worlds there are people, animals, spirits, and places hidden in plain view. He changes these objects from what might be expected to something from some other plain of existence. Miyazaki is a perfect example of why two-dimensional hand drawn animation will always surpass any three-dimensional animated films that it comes up against. Miyazaki’s films are beautiful beyond compare and they do not need to impersonate the real world in any way in order to be entertaining.
One of the bigger downfalls to Ponyo is its cast. The film’s voice actors were cast by Disney. The almost grating (vocally), Noah Lindsey Cyrus, little sister to Miley Cyrus, voices Ponyo and one of the Jonas brothers voices Sosuke. However, the entire cast was not miserable. Liam Neeson, whose voice is as splendid and recognizable as someone like Morgan Freeman, voices Ponyo’s father, a sorcerer who has abandoned whatever part of him that was human. He spends his days under the ocean and despises all humanity for the pollution they bring. He keeps his daughters, Ponyo and her sisters, in a bubble inside of his underwater fortress, away from the evils of the world.
The magic behind this film comes from somewhere deep and incredibly fantastic. Miyazaki has outdone his rivals and himself again. Ponyo is a must see and worth every dollar you spend. It is an old fairy tale that not only reaches children, but also the child in adults.