Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea

This is Ponyo

This is Ponyo (c) Ghibli/Disney

I am a massive Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli fan.  Spirited Away is my all time favourite movie, closely followed by My Neighbour Totoro.  These films bring such joy, beauty and warmth to the world, and they are an art form that is perfectly Japanese, with no competition from the West to dilute their uniqueness.

So I have just seen the latest Ghibli movie titled “Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea” (aka “Gake no ue no Ponyo”)…it is a much simpler story than the recent spate of Ghibli films, and reminds me very much of the likes of ‘”Kiki’s Delivery Service”, “Totoro” and “The Cat Returns”.  The animation hasn’t taken any massive leaps forward, it is almost as if it has gone backwards a little, seeming much more hand-drawn and ‘cute’ rather than the sweeping CGI of “Spirited Away” and “Howl’s Moving Castle”.  But this is no bad thing, as the plot doesn’t require such Michael Bay moments, it is a far gentler, more spiritual film.  I have totally fallen in love with Ponyo, it is everything a Ghibli film should be – highly original, without competition, high adventure in a small setting, the world seen through the fascination of children, a message of friendship and companionship, and most of all, great characters in a beautiful setting.

Ponyo with her brothers & sisters

Ponyo with her brothers & sisters (c) Ghibli/Disney

The story follows a small strange looking aquatic creature (a mermaid) that lives with her father, an undersea spirit.  This creature decides it wants to see the world beyond its small home, and so steals away amongst some jellyfish.  However, the creature gets more than it bargained for as it is soon accidentally washed up upon the nearby shore and found by a small boy.  The boy saves the creature by putting it in a bucket of water, but then takes the creature to school with him.  The boy lives with his mother, in a house on the top of a marvelously steep hill overlooking a small port town.  He decides to call the creature Ponyo, and a friendship is soon formed.  However, her father is not happy with Ponyo’s disappearance and sends the waves crashing to shore to find and retrieve Ponyo.  But Ponyo doesn’t want to live with the spirit anymore, she wants to return to the shore and be with the little boy and his mother.  in escaping, Ponyo causes the spirit’s magical potions to mix and spill and these lead to the ocean growing ever larger.  Ponyo is also affected by the potions and gets the ability to turn herself into a little girl.  She quickly returns to shore to find the little boy.  But in the town all is panic as the oceans rise and rise, forcing people to flee.  Eventually there is nothing left but the ocean and the hill-top home of the little boy.  The boy’s mother heads out to try and rescue the townspeople and take them to safety, meanwhile the little boy and Ponyo remain in the house enjoying each other’s company.  But as time passes, the little boy gets worried about his mother, and with Ponyo’s help, and her magic, they head off into the ocean to find her.

Ponyo with the Spirit of the Sea

Ponyo with her father, Fujimoto (fantastic art by the talented nasou - click for link-through to nasou's site and work)

I won’t go any further as I don’t want to spoil the rest of the film.  Suffice to say their adventure is full of mystery and magic, which builds to a climatic ending of typical Ghibli proportions!

As yet, I’ve only seen the Japanese version with rather poorly written English subtitles.  If recent movies are anything to go by, the English cast and dub will be superbly chosen and no doubt extremely well acted.  I’m really pleased to see Ghibli and Miyazaki make this move to the earlier style of work, there is an innocence and wonder about Ponyo that started to go missing with the bigger CGI films like “Earthsea”.  I hope we get a few more like this over the coming years, mixed with some of the bigger-scope stories of course.

Ponyo as a little human girl

Ponyo as a little human girl (c) Ghibli/Disney

Hurrah for Ghibli, hurrah for Miyazaki and hurrah for Japanese animation.  “Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea” is a first rate piece of entertainment.  As soon as it comes out, make sure you catch it, you won’t be disappointed 🙂


About hokusbloke
30-something radio producer/director/writer, owner & MD of Ladbroke Productions (the UK's oldest independent radio production company). Lover of far fetched fiction, scifi and fantasy, my cats and all thinks tech. I am also the Chair of the Radio Independents Group, a former Trustee of the Radio Academy, and a Fellow of the RSA. I co-wrote, produced and directed Robert Rankin's "The Brightonomicon" audio series, produce Dr Who audiobooks for the BBC, and directed several sci-fi radio plays for BBC Radio 4 in 2009. I am a strong advocate for more SF audio and radio...keep watching this space for upcoming news!

6 Responses to Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea

  1. Chihiro-chan says:

    I can’t wait to see it in English! =) Thankyou for the wonderful description– it makes me want to see it even more; and the pictures are so cute.

  2. Cute Bruiser says:

    The third picture is actually of Ponyo and her father, Fujimoto. It’s not the “Spirit of the Sea”. It’s also not official art so you may want to take it down or credit the fan who did the work: http://nasou.deviantart.com/art/Ponyo-on-the-Cliff-by-the-Sea-92259495

  3. nasou says:

    Hello. I drew the third picture. If you used this picture with your blog, I wanted communication for me. Would you write my names jointly whether you delete this picture?

    • nasou says:

      I’m sorry. I did not reload it. A webmaster thank you for coping immediately!

      • hokusbloke says:

        More than happy to let the world know about your fantastic art! If you would rather I link to a different website, or remove the pic just lemme know…Sorry I forgot to check first, most unlike me…I was in a fevered state of excitement having just seen the movie and dived in to write the blog and forgot my usual procedures for checking ownership of images. It really is a great piece of work, well done. Wish I had your talent 🙂

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