I got to watch Ponyo on the Sea Cliff fairly recently. Even though it’s coming out to the US with English dubs, I prefer watching it in Japanese with English subtitles instead. There’s just something lost in translation when the movie has English speakers for the characters. I know, Americans don’t like to read their movies, they like to watch their movies, but for me…I like subtitles. I grew up watching subtitles for Asian and foreign films and when I watch American English movies, I wish they had subtitles too.
Anyways, as a Miyazaki movie, this one seems to return to My Neighbor Totoro, where the main characters seem barely old enough to walk. Ponyo meets a human boy and desires to become human. As she changes into human form, she upsets the balance in the world. Through a test, the world is reset and Ponyo can retain her human form if the boy passes the test. It’s a cute, innocent story with lots of light, laughter, and fun. However, there’s a theme of subtle maturity as the young boy takes on lighthouse duties and the tsunami/wave aspect of the film.
Overall, it’s energetic and lively, just like the two main characters…but I feel like there wasn’t as much depth into the story but because it’s aimed more for younger viewers, it makes sense. I still can’t get over how wonderful the animation is, the hand-drawn feel of it all…it’s much more comforting to watch than the crisp sterility of Pixar movies or other CGI animated movies. This one just encases everything in fantasy and whimsy…gotta love it!
I give this one 4 out of 5 stars…some plot holes, but beautiful animation and entertaining story that’s great for all viewers.