If you haven’t seen it yet then I have to fully and enthusiastically recommend watching the Miyazaki film released through Disney called “Ponyo“.
As per Wikipedia: “Ponyo (Gake no Ue no Ponyo: literally “Ponyo on the Cliff”), initially titled in English as Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, is a 2008 Japanese animated film by Studio Ghibli, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki”.
This is supposedly inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson story “The Little Mermaid”, yet I found this tale to be so much sweeter than that original story and far more interesting even than Disney’s own Ariel-centric version.
In this charming little tale a young fish-girl (a kind of goldfish with a girl’s face) comes to the surface and befriends an equally young Japanese boy named Sosuke. The boy ends up saving Ponyo who gets stuck inside a bit of floating ocean debris and he names the fish-girl “Ponyo”. They end up getting separated but Ponyo is determined to find Sosuke once again, even if it means using her own magic to give herself feet/hands to do it! Both characters are 5 years old and sweet as can be. Ponyo reminds me very strongly of the young girl in an earlier Miyazaki film called My Neighbor Totoro.
In addition to the round-bellied Ponyo and the caring Sosuke, we have the lovable and quirky characters of:
- the stern but caring fish-girl’s father
- the lovable and very diversely shaped/sized seniors at the nursing home
- Sosuke’s very easy-going and brave mother
- the absent but loving father of Sosuke who captains a fishing vessel
- Ponyo’s understanding, beautiful and enormous sea mother
Most heart-warmingly, this isn’t a tale about how a teenager gives away her only/best skill (singing) in order to woo some man with her luscious under-aged curves. Rather, Ponyo is about the innocence of truly accepting people for who/what they are; in all their various and splendid forms, with no reservations. It made my heart truly sing with happiness.
To boot, the English language voice-over is very well done with a good cast of dubbers who capture the characters very well.
The icing on this film’s already beautiful plot-cake, however, was the end credit theme song (which you can watch on YouTube here in the English version or here in Japanese), which is lively, bouncy, emotional and contains these lovely lyrics:
Ponyo, Ponyo, Ponyo Fishy in the sea
Tiny little fishy, who could you really be?
Ponyo, Ponyo, Ponyo magic sets you free
Oh she’s a little girl with a round tummy! (Emphasis mine)
Really a well-done adaptation of a very intense story, far surpassing the princess-y eye-candy of Disney’s own version. It is a fun, at times emotional, very compelling story with lovable characters who you just want to cheer on. Beautiful.
Related note: This past weekend I got to enjoy a visit with some great friends who have two small kids now obsessed with Ponyo; who kept alternating between singing that song and the theme from Phineas and Ferb (another show that Adam and I really enjoy).