Leave it to Hayao Miyazaki to create a magical story between a boy and a squishy goldfish girl, all the while reminding us of the importance of being eco-friendly. That’s the power of Miyazaki, who along with Studio Ghibli, once again delivers a beautiful film, “Ponyo” (“Gake no ue no Ponyo”), that captures the heart of both adults and children alike.
Released in the U.S. on Aug. 14, this film boasts an all-star voice cast, including Tina Fey, Frankie Jonas, Noah Cyrus, Matt Damon, Liam Neeson and Cate Blanchett. For me however, I decided to opt out of the English release (I’m quite biased against dubbed versions) and watched the original version instead, which was released in Japan last year on July 19, 2008 and has already won the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year.
“Ponyo” tells the story of an adorable goldfish girl, named Brunhilde, who escapes from her wizard father Fujimoto, and gets scooped up in a bucket by five-year-old Sosuke, who names her Ponyo. The endearing Sosuke is actually based on Miyazaki’s son, Goro, when he was five.
Through the resilient bond between Ponyo and Sosuke, this film brings to the surface larger themes about the harmony between nature and mankind. This is most clear in the character of Fujimoto, who though was once a man, now despises humanity for recklessly polluting the ocean. With beautifully hand-drawn animations, the film depicts the monstrous power of the ocean as well as its majestic serenity, as seen in the sea goddess, Guranmamare, who is Ponyo’s mother. As the ocean waters threaten to flood the town, the fate of the town rests on the love between Ponyo and Sosuke.
Although it may seem like a flat story to some in comparison to Miyazaki’s more complex and visually appealing films “Spirited Away” and “Princess Mononoke,” “Ponyo” is still undoubtedly creative with a simple, sincere message at its center: love achieves harmony, within and between mankind and Mother Nature.
Photos from “Ponyo”, copyright Nibariki-GNDHDDT