I recently (about three weeks ago) crossed off "See Hayao Miyazaki film in theater" off my own "Bucket List" by seeing his latest film "Ponyo". We had to drive all the way to Madison to see it. I decided to do a review on it.
For over 20 years, Studio Ghibli has been capturing the hearts of audiences with animated films such as “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind”, “My Neighbor Totoro”, and “Spirited Away”. Hayao Miyazaki, who directs most of the studio’s films, in particular, with a wonderful imagination and great attention to detail, has brought something to the animation world that no one has been able to faithfully duplicate. Those who see the films of Studio Ghibli will most likely find themselves amazed, inspired, and left wondering how they keep making such fantastic films that have such great imagery and spirit to them.
Miyazaki’s latest film, “Ponyo”, is no different from the other films fans have come to love. Inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale “The Little Mermaid”, “Ponyo” tells the story of a little fish girl who is driven to see more of the world and ventures out to the surface. After getting her head stuck in an empty jar on the ocean floor, she is rescued by a young boy named Sōsuke, who takes a liking to her and names her “Ponyo” and promises to protect her forever. Ponyo is soon taken back to the ocean by wave spirits sent out by her father, Fujimoto. Back in the ocean, Ponyo declares her desire to be human because she has fallen in love with Sōsuke. Using her father’s magic, she turns herself into a human, yet still retaining her own magic, and goes back up to the surface with the help of her sisters. But since no one can be magic and human at the same time, it greatly upsets the balance of nature and the ocean rages and storms. Gran Mamare, Ponyo’s mother, declares that if Sōsuke can pass a test, Ponyo can live as a human and world order will be restored. If he fails, then she’ll turn into sea foam instead.
“Ponyo” is nothing short of magical, poetic, and breath-taking. The level of artistry is absolutely amazing. Colorful, almost watercolor-like, and detailed visuals will drop jaws. As with most Miyazaki films, everyone will find something they have never seen in any other film, such as raging waves taking on the shapes of giant fish. Besides marvelous visuals and superb animation, it has a great story and enough charm and heart mixed in with a bit of humor to entice both children and adults.
Miyazaki has certainly put in a great amount of effort and expression like he does with all of his other films, making “Ponyo” a must-see film that will capture the hearts of audiences and leave them in awe.