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Showing 1-10 of 34 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
Hayao Miyazaki is one of those rare directors who can take the magic of nature and childhood, then somehow capture it for the screen.

And his tenth Ghibli movie "Ponyo" is no exception -- it's a reimagined tale of a "little mermaid" who wants to become human so she can be with a little human boy she loves. It's a simple story told in a simple manner (occasionally TOO simple), but it has a lush oceanic beauty and an innocent sweetness that really capture your heart and imagination.

A little boy named Sosuke finds a tiny "goldfish" with a human face on a beach, trapped in a bottle. He names her Ponyo, and goes to great lengths to care for his little fishy friend. But then the sea wizard Fujimoto, Ponyo's overprotective dad, appears and snatches Ponyo back into the sea -- and she decides that she wants to become human so she can be with Sosuke. Having tasted a bit of Sosuke's blood, she sprouts chickenleggy limbs and starts to change, but inadvertently disrupts a magical well that causes the moon to drop, the seas to rise over the land, and prehistoric magic to rise once more.

Sosuke and Ponyo are delighted to be reunited, despite the raging storm that is engulfing the city and causing ships to go missing. While the children go searching for Sosuke's missing mother, Fujimoto struggles to fix the balance of nature before the entire world is destroyed, with the help of Ponyo's sea goddess mother. The only hope of restoring balance lies in Ponyo and Sosuke -- and if Sosuke's love is not true, then Ponyo will be reduced to sea foam.

Compared to Miyazaki's other movies, "Ponyo" is a very simple story -- it's basically a boy-meets-fishgirl story, with lots of children running around being adorable and exquisite looks at the sea. Even its theme is simple -- the story is dependent on on true selfless love and how it knows no boundaries of age, experience or even species. Not to mention parents letting go of their children.

If there's a downside to the story, it's the lack of internal conflict. Example: the "test" that Fujimoto and the sea goddess use for Sosuke... well, it's far less impressive than it seems.

And Miyazaki does not disappoint animationwise -- he conjures a waterworld of luminous sea life, sparkling ships, prehistoric creatures, finned submarines and a town that has been swallowed by the sea (complete with boats floating over the rooftops). It's an exquisite piece of work that turns the ocean into a magical, otherworldly realm where wizards work in coral-encrusted towers and shimmering jellyfish take little mermaids to the surface.

Ponyo herself provides a lot of the movie's charm -- she's effusive, hyperactive, has a babylike fascination with the human world ("HAM!"), and an array of handy magical powers. Sosuke is a likable lad who is fascinated by Ponyo and her world, and Fujimoto makes a enjoyable anti-hero -- spindly, gaunt and with a mane of messy red hair, he's like a rock'n'roll embodiment of parental stress.

The extras are pretty promising on this blu-ray, and they seem to be the same as the regular DVD edition's extras (rather than stiffing or one or the other group of buyers) -- a slew of documentaries and interviews (including with Miyazaki himself), storyboards, explorations of the story's background, et cetera. And most striking is the "World of Ghibli," an interactive creation which apparently allows people to "enter" the worlds of various Miyazaki movies -- "Ponyo's," "Kiki's," "Castle in the Sky's," and so on. And given how luminous and lush the colors are, the movie itself should be spellbinding visually.

"Ponyo" is simpler and more childlike fare than most of Miyazaki's past films, but it's still a sweet and lushly-animated piece of work. At the very least, it will transport you to a magical childhood.
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on March 3, 2010
Having only seen the dvd version in its native Japanese with English subtitles, I was skeptic as to how much of a difference blu-ray would make to the picture quality.

Short answer: A LOT.

Long answer: The picture is phenomenal. As much of a pleasure Ponyo is to view on dvd, as are all of Miyazaki's other works, Ponyo on blu-ray is an incredible experience. The picture is sharp and there are a great deal many details in the blu-ray version of Ponyo that were missing or not as sharp in the dvd version due to the compression. The art is impeccable and there is charm in every character and environment. Unlike Miyazaki's previous works, Ponyo has a very childish look and feel to it, probably because (as Miyazaki says himself) the movie is aimed at 5 and 6 year olds, unlike his previous works. The environments are all beautifully rendered and looks great with the colored pencil feel. It looks excellent. And it looks even better on blu-ray.

The sound is lossless audio in English and in French, but I regret to say not in Japanese. This release would have been perfect if all the audio tracks included were perfect. However, I purchased this for the English audio so I feel that in itself is not reason to take off one star. However, it would have been stellar if all three audio tracks were lossless.

I won't go into any details about the story of the movie itself because other reviews have covered this to enough of an extent, but as someone who actually owns the blu-ray/dvd combo, here are my two cents on the product itself. If you have a blu-ray player, definitely purchase this version.
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on January 31, 2010
My husband and I really enjoy Hayao Miyazaki's films, although not all of them are suitable to watch with our young children. We saw Ponyo in the theatre with our 4 & 7 year old children and it was probably the best film we'd ever brought them to. The story is sweet and uplifting and we were all quite engaged. As the previous reviewer mentioned, it is not as complex as some of the films, but if you have children, this is one you can watch with them.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon December 18, 2012
I am overwhelmed with emotion as I sit here contemplating what to write about Ponyo. That might sound silly, but it's true. Here is an animated film which focuses on two children who are about 5-years-old, but the story works for any adult who is open to being moved by its charming characters. To be precise, one of the children begins life as a fish, before undergoing a transformation.

Director Hayao Miyazaki is some kind of magician. If you have ever seen My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, or Princess Mononoke, you'll know what to expect from Ponyo. It's closest in feel to Totoro because of the ages of the main characters. Miyazaki's animations look like watercolor paintings rather than the 3D worlds found in Pixar's releases, but although they are less real, they have more warmth and heart than the world's second-best animation studio. I don't say that lightly.

If you're put off by the title, or the fact that the film was made in Japan, set aside those fears immediately. The Blu-ray comes with the original Japanese dub (although only in 5.1 Dolby Digital), and an HD dub from Disney for the US market featuring actors you mostly already know.

Ponyo has a special place in my heart because it is the first Studio Ghibli title that I ever bought. I had borrowed one or two before from my local library, but this first glimpse of Miyazaki's work in HD is something I will never forget. The experience begins with five minutes of action without any dialog, and the colors, imagination, movement, and sheer beauty of the animation will take your breath away. If Kubrick had made an animated film, the first five minutes might look similar.

After the initial sequence, we meet Sosuke (Frankie Jonas). He's a small boy who discovers something while he's playing by the beach; it turns out to be Ponyo (Noah Cyrus), who he mistakes for a goldfish. She's trapped in a discarded bottle, so he helps her break free. When he cuts his finger in the process, she licks the wound and heals him. Yes, Ponyo is a magical creature. The taste of human blood changes her nature. Sosuke takes care of her and keeps her in a bucket, but she is later returned to the ocean.

Ponyo's undersea world is just as fascinating as the one above. Her father, Fujimoto (Liam Neeson), is some kind of wizard who makes elixirs and helps keep nature in balance. He doesn't trust humans and fears for Ponyo's safety, so he's reluctant to allow her to leave her home. What he doesn't know is that Ponyo has come to love Sosuke, and wants to transform herself into a human girl so that she can be with him.

The two most common complaints I have heard about the film are that it is intended for small children and the story is hard to follow. I have never had trouble following the plot, and I think it will work for anyone who doesn't dismiss it as being too childish without even seeing it. This is a film for parents as well as children.

Miyazaki is an incredible study of human nature and knows exactly how to depict emotion in his drawings. I would say that it's almost impossible to watch without being moved in a positive way. Like Totoro, the story takes place in a world in which people care about each other. There are no villains of any kind. The story relies on events to drive it, and it's never boring. Notice how supportive Sosuke's mother (Tina Fey) is when he tells her that he's rescued a fish and that she has turned into a girl, or the respect that Sosuke has for his elders. There are a lot of good messages here for children (and adults).

I want to mention two more scenes before I stop talking about the plot. The first is one of the purest expressions of joy I have ever witnessed in a film, and shows Ponyo running along on top of the waves as she tries to reach Sosuke. Look at the expression on her face. She only has one thought, and it's driven by love. The other scene shows Ponyo and Sosuke recovering indoors after being soaked in a storm. It's meaning might not be immediately apparent, but if you have ever been cold or wet, remember how good it felt to be warmed by a meal and a hot drink. Miyazaki includes these scenes because every human being can identify with such feelings. Instead of being bombarded by action and conflict, we are shown a world in which real things happen, and the scenes are stronger because of it.

Ponyo is a magical story. It's hard to watch without breaking into a grin, and that feeling lasts for the duration of the film. If you decide to watch it and find that it touches you in the same way, I urge you to check out Miyazaki's entire catalog if you haven't already done so.

The Blu-ray presentation is excellent. The image can't be faulted and the US dub sounds great. The only tiny criticism is that the Japanese dub is not lossless, but at least it is present for those who insist on seeing films in their original language.
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on February 9, 2010
This is a special Miyazaki movie to me. It has a unique setting (by the ocean), and involves therefore more blue and less green than many other of his films. The story is really interesting, although not nearly as deep as other films like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, or Princess Mononoke.
The animation style is also unique in this film. It looks sort of like the backgrounds are all done in coloured pencil, completely different than other animated features, if you pay attention to the art media. I have only seen the movie in theatres once, but I am anticipating the movie release very happily! I imagine the BLU-RAY (a NEW and exciting offering for Studio Ghibli!) would show incredibly crisp lines and also depth and texture in the backgrounds I previously described. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes Miyazaki, animated movies, or interesting family films full of imagination and creativity.

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on March 8, 2010
I had heard news about this film from anime-legend Hayao Miyazaki, and I SO wanted to see it. But I was lucky enough to the film online at YouTube; after watching the film, I knew that it is another Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli classic.

This film, inspired by my favorite fairy-tale "The Little Mermaid," is about a 5-year-old boy named Sosuke, and his relationship with a goldfish princess, whom he named Ponyo, who longs to become human and be with Sosuke. I won't give you anymore details, you'll have to see the film for yourself. So overall one of the best animated movies ever made, with plenty of fantasy, adventure, and humor...I loved it!
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on August 25, 2015
This is such a cute story! I really enjoy Hayao Miyazaki's take on the Little Mermaid. This is not a very complicated story, but like Miyazaki said this is a story that 5 year olds could enjoy so do not expect very complicated plot lines. As an adult watching the movie, I thought it is neat that nature is being portrayed as something so powerful yet beautiful at the same time (Ponyo's mom!). I also enjoy that there is a well behaved boy who keeps his promise. My daughter love this movie too. I'm glad I purchased it since we have watched it multiple times already.
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on February 15, 2014
In fine Miyazaki style, we enter the magical under-water world of Ponyo. Miyazaki brilliantly incorporates environmental concerns into the story as well, which is very refreshing. Loosely based on "The Little Mermaid", Sosuke, a 5-year-old boy, finds a little goldfish, and they become fast friends. Our 5-year old boy loved the movie and has watched it over and over. I highly recommend this for all ages.
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on April 29, 2015
Wonderful, cute movie. My 2 year old daughter really enjoys it - she asks for it as often as Frozen. I may be biased because I love Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli too. The animation is a fascinating mix of hand-illustrated parts with regular animation. I used to live on the west coast so it struck many notes with me.
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on June 17, 2010
I had seen Ponyo in a movie theater where everyone in the room have applaused at the end. It was a wonderful film, so I also bought it on DVD. It was only available online for people of Québec. I received it really fast, like two days after I made my order.
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