Blu-ray Review: Ponyo | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, June 1st, 2023  


Studio: GKIDS

Nov 07, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Playing among the rocks and surf below his cliff-side home, five-year-old Sōsuke finds a remarkable fish and names her Ponyo. She has a face like a human’s (though few seem to recognize this), an appetite for ham, and the surprising ability to talk. To the little boy’s dismay, the bucket he keeps his new pet in is ripped from his hands in a freak tide, and Ponyo is swept to sea.

Tiny Ponyo isn’t a normal fish, if you haven’t gathered that already. She’s the daughter of Fujimoto, the oceans’ caretaker, and Granmamare, the Mother of the Sea. When she returns to her father’s undersea laboratory, she’s no longer satisfied with life as a fish – she’s tasted the forbidden fruits of human food (and human blood.) Using the magic around her, Ponyo transforms herself into a human girl and escapes, fleeing to her new friend Sōsuke. Unknown to her, her actions upset the balance of nature itself, causing the oceans rise and envelop much of her little friend’s hometown.

Inspired very loosely by Hans Christian Andersen’s original The Little Mermaid, Ponyo is an exceedingly charming modern fairy tale. Hayao Miyazaki has said he made 2008’s Ponyo for five-year-olds, and it’s his most kiddie-oriented film since My Neighbor Totoro. Like any of Studio Ghibli’s features, though, it can be enjoyed by all ages; although the themes and plot are simpler than its immediate predecessors, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, it has all of the sweetness and spectacle you can expect from one of his movies. In Sōsuke’s resourceful and hard-working mother, Lisa, it also has his most fully-developed and relatable adult character.

GKIDS’ new Blu-ray/DVD looks absolutely beautiful, with bright colors doing justice to the movie’s pure cell animation. (Unlike most of Miyazaki’s latter-era films, Ponyo is fully hand-drawn.) Both discs include the movie’s original Japanese audio track, as well as the well-done English dub from 2009, which featured recognizable voice talent such as Tina Fey, Liam Neeson, and Cate Blanchett. Ponyo’s bonus materials are perhaps the most robust of all the Studio Ghibli re-releases from GKIDS, and features the most new content. All of the great featurettes from prior editions are held over, with many new Japanese-language materials (with subtitles) added. Most notable among these are a vintage interview with Miyazaki – he’s more open and casual than usual here, smoking through the entire discussion of the film – and a fun, almost hour-long behind-the-scenes tour of Studio Ghibli as they were making Ponyo.

Ponyo comes highly recommended, particularly if you have a young child to share it with.


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.