Saturday, 9 August 2014

Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

Ponyo is much larger than her thousands of sisters...
This afternoon YTSL took me to see her all-time favourite Japanese anime character in Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. She loves this little red-haired girl/goldfish because she is feisty and proactive, which you can clearly see in the film.

The animation is all hand drawn and has a theme of under the sea and in the opening scenes there's no dialogue except for graceful jellyfish floating up, schools of fish swimming along.

And then we finally see Ponyo as a goldfish trying to escape the sea world she lives in, controlled by her mad-cap scientist father, Fujimoto, who hates how man has destroyed the planet and he creates some powerful potions in the hopes of bringing back the sea to its original state.

The two kids are thrilled to have ham with instant noodles
Meanwhile through fate, Ponyo meets a five-year-old boy Sosuke who lives by the sea with his mother Lisa and father who is a captain.

For Ponyo it's love at first sight and is determined to become human. She inadvertently creates a mess in her father's laboratory and unleashes the glowing potions that create humungous fish and tsunamis that directly impact Sosuke and his community.

The animation here is fantastic -- the reactions of the characters are very human -- even though you know they are cartoons, they are drawn with sensitivity, playfulness and lots of expression.

For example there are some cute scenes where Ponyo interacts with Sosuke, as well as when she learns what humans do.

Lisa is also an interesting character, very strong and independent, and definitely speaks her mind when she gets mad at her husband. Strangely, Sosuke calls his mother Lisa, and father Koichi, but it is seen as normal.

The fantastic world under the sea filled with jellyfish
Another strong female character is Ponyo's mother, Grandmamare, who seems like a goddess of the sea, decorated in rubies and has long flowing locks. Fujimoto resorts to having to contact her to control Ponyo because he doesn't have enough power to discipline her himself.

Not only is feminism a recurring theme in his movies, but also man's relationship with nature, thanks to director Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli. He has no qualms injecting his own opinions into his anime. In the opening scenes there's a ship dredging up the sea bed and it is scooping up all kinds of garbage into its net that people have thrown into the ocean.

The world under the sea is an amazing sight, particularly the scenes where the entire town is flooded and Sosuke and Ponyo travel on his toy boat to find Lisa. Along the way the water is so clear they can see the different fish swimming below them.

The adult issues tie up nicely with Miyazaki's main story of the love between Ponyo and Sosuke that proves amor vincit omnia -- love conquers all.


  1. Was wondering if you'd write about "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea" and I'm glad you did! Glad you enjoyed the film -- it is a real treat to view on a big screen.

    BTW, I don't think Ponyo's a goldfish - though that's what Sosuke thought she was when he first saw her. Funny you don't have any images of "fishy Ponyo" in your blog post! :)

    1. Hi YTSL -- I couldn't find pics of her as a gold fish -- mostly of Sosuke holding a green bucket... Anyway yep it was a fun movie!

    2. A couple of fish Ponyo pics:-,0.jpg

      And you know where to find Puppet Ponyo pics... ;)

    3. Hahaha thanks! I wanted to use an image not on the movie poster... I just really liked the scene of them with the noodles!