I was going to start posting reviews to all Disney (and Disney/Pixar affiliated) animated movies on Upcoming Pixar starting with The Princess and the Frog this winter, but due to excitement and enjoyment I will begin with Walt Disney Studios’ release of Studio Ghibli’s Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea.)
I’ll briefly start off by pointing out the Pixar connection, besides the fact that John Lasseter and director Hayao Miyazaki are good friends and that Pixar and Studio Ghibli could almost be sister studios. Like past Ghibli localizations, the English Ponyo dub was directed by Pixarians; in this case John Lasseter, Brad Lewis and Peter Sohn.
The story is about a mystical goldfish named Ponyo who, with the help of her human best friend Sosuke, quests to become human. It’s a tale of friendship, bonds, love and loyalty loosely inspired by The Little Mermaid. As it turns out, the balance of the universe rests on one little sea creature and that’s when the sweet and equally hilarious adventure begins! I’m not going to delve into the plot much more, it’s more complicated than the trailers would have it seem.
The story may come off a bit strange, but the characters are adorable, rich and full of life, a Miyazaki trademark — much like Pixar. The voice talent, full of big name celebrities, was actually not distracting as you’re captivated by the story, animation and personalities. My favorite part about seeing Ponyo on the big screen was enjoying the pristine 2D visuals which have become a rarity in today’s cinema.
So if you find yourself at a megaplex this weekend, do yourself a favor and watch Ponyo (tickets here), especially if you’ve enjoyed Miyazaki’s past works!