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Ponyo [movie]

This was visually very beautiful and quite funny (in a very-young-child way). It also managed the feat of being cute without being sappy - even my cynical husband said so! Part of this is due to some rather scary scenes, but I didn't hear any whimpers or crying from the small children in the audience this afternoon. In fact, as smillaraaq remarked, the tots all seemed to be mesmerized into silence.

Sosuke, age 5, lives in a house atop a cliff overlooking the sea. His mother Lisa (!) works in a senior center next to his school, and his father is an officer on a ship whose route often passes below the house. One day, in the shallow water at the cliff's base, Sosuke finds an odd-looking fish stuck in a jar. He rescues it by breaking the jar, names it "Ponyo," and starts toting his new pet around in a bucket - even to school.

What Sosuke doesn't realize is that Ponyo is in reality the daughter of a half-mad formerly human mage whose job is keeping the ecology of the sea in balance. He'll stop at nothing to get her back - but he is not the only major power in play in this story, and Ponyo herself is a force that can't be ignored.

I think I saw a visual homage to Spirited Away during the rather mystical final section of the movie, but The Mr. disagreed. I also have to add that there was a realism I really appreciated about the depiction of Lisa's situation, as the wife of a man who is often away from home, and that the eventual happy ending is happy for her as well.

Official movie site with trailer here.

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( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
fmanalyst
Aug. 31st, 2009 02:33 am (UTC)
I saw it this weekend too. I have to admit that I found it very young indeed, or perhaps I'm feeling very old these days.
chomiji
Aug. 31st, 2009 02:35 am (UTC)

We did all feel like it was targeted at ages 4 to 6, but we enjoyed it anyway.

eldanis
Aug. 31st, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)
I just got home from seeing it! I thought it was quite good - though I want to see it in Japanese with subtitles, as I actually found myself a little distracted by the voice talent being *too* recognizable (mostly Liam Neeson). I really enjoyed Lisa's realism, too; it was nice to see her get exasperated with her husband. XD Also her name made more sense once I looked it up and saw that it's originally Risa -- quite easy to 'Englishize' to Lisa with the ambiguity of the original consonant. ^^
chomiji
Aug. 31st, 2009 02:37 am (UTC)

I really liked Lisa's heart-to-heart with Ponyo's mother! (Of course, we don't get to hear what they say, but I liked that it happened.) Thanks for the explanation about the name - we were wondering about that!

ethaisa
Aug. 31st, 2009 02:44 am (UTC)
I'm really looking forward to seeing this.. maybe next weekend. I've heard that this one compares with Totoro in terms of emotive tone. Thoughts?
chomiji
Aug. 31st, 2009 11:40 am (UTC)

It does seem Totoro-ish, most obviously in that there's the small child's viewpoint and the missing parent - Sosuke's father takes an extra run early in the film, ticking off his wife (they have an argument about it in Morse code ... !).

Some of the natural world sense of wonder/discovery is replaced here with tons of realistic little details about life in a seaside town. The Mr. was remarking that the drydock in the film - the entrance to which has a drawbridge that Lisa and Sosuke drive over every day - would fascinate little boys (and geeky little girls too, I have to say).

There are also lots of gorgeous shots of life under the sea (you get animated plankton/diatoms at one point). The Totoro and other mystical creatures are mostly replaced by Ponyo herself. She also has a whole school of teeny fish-fry sisters who manage to come to her rescue a couple of times. And there's a gorgeously scary magical storm.

blue_hobbit
Aug. 31st, 2009 07:34 am (UTC)
I really liked it too, although it didn't completely work magic on me like Totoro did. But still, a lovely film, pure Miyazaki goodness :)

What part of the final scenes reminded you of Spirited Away? Or was it just a general impression? *is curious*
chomiji
Aug. 31st, 2009 11:44 am (UTC)

It was a little more reality-grounded, especially in the shots of the town and its drydock and fishing ships. That storm scene and what followed were pretty amazing, though!

It was after Ponyo and Sosuske come ashore, when the boat goes back to its real size. All the sudden, the road they're following goes through a tunnel. There's no religious statue nearby, but otherwise the scene visually looks just like the part at the beginning of Spirited Away, when Chihiro and her parents go through the tunnel.

fmanalyst
Aug. 31st, 2009 11:57 am (UTC)
I was thinking about that during that tunnel too!
chomiji
Sep. 4th, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC)
Ponyo

Great minds!

smillaraaq
Aug. 31st, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)
There's no religious statue nearby, but otherwise the scene visually looks just like the part at the beginning of Spirited Away, when Chihiro and her parents go through the tunnel.

Oh, but there was! Just at the left side of the tunnel was a tiny little alcove with a figure of Jizo-sama. When you were commenting on that at the theater I thought you meant the statue as well as the tunnel, or I'd have pointed it out. :)
chomiji
Sep. 4th, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC)
Ponyo

I guess my subconscious noticed the statue! (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!)

blue_hobbit
Sep. 1st, 2009 12:31 am (UTC)
Oh! I really didn't notice the tunnel thing at the time, but I think you're totally right about the Spirited Away connection. It's not like Miyazaki hasn't done that kind of thing before, so it really makes sense :)
chomiji
Sep. 4th, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC)
Ponyo

Yes, he does do that! To quote the Young Lady, "OK, I think I'll be a little self-referential now!"

nouvellebrielle
Aug. 31st, 2009 12:15 pm (UTC)
Really enjoyed it myself, although Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle worked better for me. Still, Studio Ghibli generally doesn't disappoint me. :D
chomiji
Sep. 4th, 2009 06:58 pm (UTC)
Ponyo & Miyazaki-sensei

I had a bit of a problem with Howl because I loved the original DWJ novel so much, and the movie has a very different feel (except for the Green Slime scene, which was lifted straight from the book, thank goodness).

But Spirited Away really did it for me. I started crying about two-thirds of the way through (when Haku in dragon form takes off into the sky with Sen on his back) because it was so wonderful and I was so glad I was seeing it.

nouvellebrielle
Sep. 5th, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Ponyo & Miyazaki-sensei
Oooo, yes, but I tried my best not to compare, and quite liked it in the end. But Spunky!Sophie in all her snarky glory with Reallytooinlovewithmyself!Howl was sadly missing.

As for Spirited Away, that scene was quite possibly my favourite, and incredibly moving, somehow. :D I now have the urge to rewatch.
vierran45
Aug. 31st, 2009 08:21 pm (UTC)
This premiers here in about a month from now (September 25, iirc). I'm so glad local theatres usually have both the original Japanese version with Finnish subtitles and the Finnish dub.

I saw a clip with the US voice talent doing the Ponyo song for the end credits (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSQTqEJvqEI) which was just just awful compared to the original (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBSaDRlrVvg), which is just adorable (and completely fitting the 4-7 age range).
rachelmanija
Sep. 15th, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
I just saw this and am writing an essay comparing it to Andersen's "The Little Mermaid."

Do you recall if anything is ever said about Ponyo turning into sea foam, or about what would happen to Ponyo herself (as opposed to the world) if Sosuke didn't accept her as she was?

My recollection is that there was nothing mentioned about either (presumably she'd go back to being a goldfish) but several reviews cited sea foam.
chomiji
Sep. 16th, 2009 11:53 am (UTC)

Wow, I don't remember anything about sea foam! But I did a quick search, and yes, a bunch of reviewers are saying that.

Her father talked in this quick mumble, and I can't claim to have heard all his dialog properly - maybe he said something about it. I would think it would have come out in the scene where the adults (including Ponyo's mother and father) are talking about whether it was fair to ask children to go through such a trial. But I really can't remember.

I was definitely thinking about "The Little Mermaid" when I watched this. One thing that struck me was the contrast between the Little Mermaid's helplessness - she is lost on love and depends on the witch for her transformation - and Ponyo's energetic agency. She gains additional magic when her sisters help her break out of the tank, and then she accomplishes her own transformation, because she wills it.

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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