UK Distributor:  Optimum Releasing

BBFC Certificate:  U

Running time:  100 Minutes

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Audio for screening:  English

Release Date:  February 12th 2010

Reviewer:  Matt Dark


Ponyo (also known as Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) is the latest film by the creative minds at Studio Ghibli which promises a magical, endearing journey.

When playing by the shore one day, Sosuke finds a fish trapped in a glass jar.  Deciding to help it, he breaks the glass apart and takes the fish to his home to make sure itís alright.  Everything seems normal, that is until the fish licks the blood from Sosuke's thumb, which he cut from breaking open the bottle, which begins a change in the fish, which Sosuke has decided to name Ponyo. 

When Sosuke takes Ponyo to his school, he finds himself in trouble when he has to hide Ponyo, who decides to spray water at anyone she doesnít seem to like.  And its just as Sosuke discovers that Ponyo can talk, that she is suddenly snatched away by her father, Fujimoto.

Fujimoto himself lives in the ocean, angry at the humans for polluting the sea, so when he discovers that his daughter has tasted human 

blood; he attempts to seal her away, in order to stop he becoming more human.  With a little help, Ponyo escapes, releasing a power magic at the same time that finally turns her into a young human girl.  And with this power, she decides to go back to find Sosuke as quickly as she can.

Unfortunately, Ponyo's efforts are causing devastating effects.  Sosuke's home town is suddenly caught up in the middle of a storm, with the waves getting dangerously high.  As he and his mother race home, avoiding the dangerous waves, Sosuke sees a girl running atop of them.  Discovering it is Ponyo, he is given the job of taking care of her while his mother goes off to help others in the town. 

But with Ponyo's power now causing devastating effects to the earth, her mother decides to give Sosuke a test.  And if he can do it, not only will he save the world, but Ponyo will get to live as a human forever, so long as he can prove he cares for her.

Ponyo is a bit of an odd movie for me.  It feels similar, yet different at the same time.  Throughout the film, you cant help but see similarities to other films, especially Disney's The Little Mermaid with their stories of a girl becoming human in order to be with a guy they fall in love with, while their father does what they can to stop her.  I could also feel some familiarity to other Studio Ghibli titles; the innocent friendships of My Neighbour Totoro for one.

Interestingly, there was no real baddie in this film.  Despite Fujimoto's anger at the humans for polluting the ocean, his role of a protective father never really made him bad, he comes off as quite quirky, but rarely seems to be made out as the bad guy. 

But its Sosuke and Ponyo themselves that really make the film.  Seeing the world through their innocent eyes gives the film a very child-like feel, especially in Ponyo's case, as she has to get used to all the human things she is getting to experience.  These two character have both been created really well, and their voice actors also did a great job to help bring them to life.

Speaking of voices, the English dub for this film has been done exceptionally well; the characters all sound real and full of emotion.  Plus the film itself has that usual Ghibli flair; everything looks amazing and is full of bright colours.  Personally, I think this movie would be great to see on Blu-Ray when it is released on disc. 

While everything looks great, and sounds great, there were a few times when the movie did slow down.  While this isn't so bad, the film itself definitely felt like it had been made for a young audience.  There was very little to scare someone, and little to no violence.  The film is very gentle throughout its runtime, and while it may be something kids to watch, the older generations interests may not be held for the entire movie.




Feature:   Extras: n/a

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