Hayao Miyazaki. A household name in the world of animation, with various films so downright bewitching they stick out in the film industry like a sore thumb. Retaining his much-deserved success in Japan, Miyazaki broke out Worldwide when the late Miramax decided to release Princess Mononoke back in 1997, catapulting him into the limelight. Once his later feature Spirited Away won an Academy Award, all bets were off that Miyazaki was one of the World's most sought-after animators, with a distinct taste and desire to create such exquisite works of art, all-the-while involving deep, relevant messages which could be conveyed to all ages.
Co-finding the animation studio/production company Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki has released 17 films, all of which have gained international praise and merited themselves a place in the heart of film-goers. An abundance of care, knowledge and appreciation for the art of hand drawn animation is blatantly obvious. All of which couldn't be of more importance in his latest film, and my film of the week, Ponyo - or Ponyo On The Cliff as known otherwise.
An imaginative retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, Ponyo tells the story of a young boy named Sosuke and his discovery of heartwarming love towards his new found friend Ponyo, a seemingly innocent fish found in the local harbor. Ponyo, however, finds herself in trouble with her father, the Wizard Fujimoto, as he wishes for her to remain under water. Escaping, Ponyo transforms herself into a little girl and begins an adventure of epic proportions with Sosuke, despite the gigantic storm caused by her disagreeing father.
The overwhelmingly touching and beautifully uplifting tale of friendship couldn't work more tremendously. Miyazaki's revamped storytelling of the classic fairytale works wonders, with the luscious and wonderfully captivating animation fitting hand-in-hand. Undoubtedly ambitious, the vibrantly aquatic, under water adventure waiting to entice you into a sheer dumbfounded trance is the product of an astonishing creation.
Almost everything. The twist on the well-known tale is fantastic, with added elements stirring the story enough to appear original. The animation is angelic; the characters are quirky, enticing and relatable; the subtle message dealing with global warming is fitting. You won't find another animation this year which is so confoundingly full of heart.
The English-dubbed talents may grate on your nerves: Miley Cyrus' sister, Noah Cyrus, stars as Ponyo, and mini Jonas Bro. Frankie stars as Sosuke. Together, their high pitched tones and insatiable tendency to squeal and appear in absolute wonderment may p**s elderly viewers off, but i, and i hope many, found the whole ordeal adorable.
"A weird, wonderful aquatic romp..." - Nick de Semlyen, Empire Magazine
"...another Ghibli charmer that finds story, subject matter and style in freewheeling harmony." - Matthew Leyland, Total Film
"...imaginative, enchanting and exciting..." - Lucy Barrick, Radio Times
Check out some of Miyazaki's other films: My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service and Howl's Moving Castle.
Check below for a trailer for Ponyo.