Friday, August 8, 2008


One of the great things about my workplace is that Japan's fabulous Studio Ghibli has their U.S. premier showings of their films at our studio. Not only do we get to be the first outside of Japan to see the films, but we get to see them subtitled rather than dubbed (the general releases of their films here are dubbed).

Miyazaki's latest, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, is a very charming love story between a boy and a goldfish. I don't want to give away all the twists and turns of the story, but suffice it to say it has all the requisite unusual, magical elements that people expect from a Miyazaki film. This film skews younger than several of Miyazaki's recent films, and that is reflected both in the storytelling and the artistic styles used in the film. However, that does not mean it isn't highly enjoyable for older audiences as well.

Ponyo manages to mix in an environmental message, without beating you over the head with it, and some philosophical reflections on love and life as well. However, given the younger intended audience, there is not the depth of probing and degree of conflict found in a film like Princess Mononoke. I think this led to a third act with some unfulfilled potential, especially with regards to the adventure and element of the story and challenging the main character, but it still manages to be at least satisfying.

That one criticism aside, I still highly recommend seeing Ponyo (and, if possible, to see it subtitled so you can hear the original voice acting).


hatsumi said...

I want to watch Ponyo SO BAD. I love Miyazaki movies. Unless things have changed recently, if you have a region-free DVD player or a region 2 DVD player, Miyazaki movie DVD's come with English subtitles. The translations aren't that great, but it's still better than listening to dubs. (I'm an elitist snob and REFUSE to watch anime dubbed. This is different than anime that is MADE for English like Afro Samurai or Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.) The last time I went to Japan, I visited the Ghibli Museum. They have Pixar showings in a theater there. I didn't check it out, though, since I can watch tons of Pixar stuff in the US very easily. Hmm. This reminds me, I need to order the single for the Ponyo theme song so I can put it on my iPod...