Ponyo Hayao Miyazaki

Ponyo Hayao Miyazaki
Miyazaki's newest animated feature is a break from his recent all-ages fare designed to appeal to anyone with a sense wonder. This time around, Miyazaki's focus is on the kiddie demographic, with a stylized retelling of The Little Mermaid that bears little resemblance to the Disney film of a few years ago. The dark undertones and adult subtext of Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away give way to a simple tale of childhood friendship in a world touched by magic. The story is stripped down to basics and the characters lack any depth or coherent explanation as to who/what they are exactly. Five-year-old Sosuke discovers what he refers to as a "goldfish" on the beach near his house. Despite the fact that the goldfish has a human face, he adopts it and names it Ponyo. It turns out that the human-headed goldfish is actually the daughter of a sea wizard, and Sosuke has inadvertently initiated her transformation into human form. What follows is a story of friendship that nearly brings about the end of the world. The features are fairly conventional, with typical making-of documentaries and discussions with Miyazaki and other production staff, and a "Discovering the world of Studio Ghibli," which is little more than a series of trailers for Miyazaki's other features. For a children's movie, this disc is lacking features that will appeal to the little ones. As is usual for a Miyazaki film, Ponyo is a rare and beautiful example of hand drawn animation, with every frame filled with colour and movement that dazzle the eye and are sure to keep children glued to the screen. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of substance to the story and adult fans of Miyazaki's less juvenile fare will be left a little disappointed this time around. (Disney/Buena Vista)