If they haven’t already downloaded it illegally or if they want to see it in English, the US anime fan base will finally have a chance to see Hayao Miyazaki’s “Ponyo,” on a big screen, when it opens today. The director of Academy Award-winner “Spirited Away” and “Princess Mononoke” is back with “Ponyo,” which features the voices of Cate Blanchett, Liam Neeson, Frankie “Bonus” Jonas, Noah “Miley’s sister” Cyrus, Tina Fey, and Matt Damon. Somewhat inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid,” “Ponyo” is about a fish that leaves the ocean to take a look at the human world. In a press conference reported on by SyFy, Miyazaki said of the process of coming up with the idea for the film, “I feel like I’m searching in my subconscious with a fishing net, and I happened upon catching a goldfish in that net. That was the inspiration for starting to make this movie.” The film has done wonders at the Japanese box office, and now will try to woo US audiences with a Disney distribution deal.
On Wired‘s blog, Scott Thill concludes that “‘Ponyo’ is a refreshing ride through the seaside, short on bumps and long on heart.” Scott Foundas in the Village Voice raves about the film, saying “It’s a movie for anyone who, like Miyazaki himself, can still happily commune with his inner five-year-old. Like much of Miyazaki’s work, the film carries an unsubtle environmental message about the littering and overharvesting of the ocean. Yet, as he glances at the world once more through a child’s wide, unspoiled eyes, Miyazaki seems to find hope for renewal.” In an unenthusiastic but not loathsome review, Slant‘s Andrew Schenker says, “If the film finally seems a little confused about what direction it wants to take (early hints at social critique involving the stresses of the nuclear family and man’s deleterious effect on his environment, for example, are raised only to be dropped), then its lack of definite direction jibes well with its preteen viewpoint, which makes a virtue out of random and finely imagined bits of business. Only in the film’s ending does this lack of cohesion become problematic, as Miyazaki attempts a tidy resolution, papering over any narrative contradictions with some trite claptrap about the power of love.” The AP’s Christie Lemire thinks the film is “beautiful but suprisingly boring,” saying, “If you’re 5 years old, or under the influence of some sort of hallucinogenic drug, “Ponyo” is probably awesome. Clearly, these are the ideal scenarios in which to watch the latest animated fantasy from Japanese writer-director Hayao Miyazaki.”
In an incredibly unique experience, San Diego’s Comic-Con was treated with a visit by the legendary director. In his appearance he broached the topic of the environmental political statement his film is making. Miyazaki says, in a recap by Blast Magazine, ““The way nature and environment has been reflected in ‘Ponyo’ is that I thought Ponyo’s natural strength was connected to the sea and the ocean — the strength that the sea and ocean have. In many ways, if you look down deep, the strength of people is connected to nature and the depth of nature. And so, that is why when Ponyo comes to the land. She uses the strength of the sea to come. It’s not really a film that has environmental issues or ecological issues in it as much as the strength and the power of nature that I have conveyed.” His appearance was captured by film blog twitch. Take a look below: