Ponyo (Gake no ue no Ponyo) is one of the more simplistic and straightforward Hayao Miyazaki films admirers of his films will see. Ponyo lacks the complexity of Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, and is more akin to his efforts in My Neighbor Totoro. Ponyo is a film geared toward children and as such will appeal to them more readily than to teenagers and adults. Though the story is less complex than his other efforts, the animation is just as complex as in Miyazaki‘s other films with the same attention to detail. Of particular note is the scene where a humanized Ponyo (Noah Cyrus) is running along the side of the road atop gigantic water fish, a precise example of a genius imagination American animation lacks. The film’s adolescent love story is sweet more than romantic (as it should be with the main characters’ young age) with breath-taking scenes throughout but for hardcore fans, there is not as much meat on the spiritual/philosophical bone as they may want, though the undercurrent of pollution is present.
I watched both the DVD and Blu-ray presentation of Ponyo and the colors in the 1080p, 1.85:1 transfer are brighter and jump out at you more in the latter presentation.
Behind the Studio
A conversation with Hayao Miyazaki and John Lasseter : In Tokyo, Hayao Miyazaki first thought of Ponyo as a type of turnkey toy, there is a carefree element in the film, water as living beings, he has friends around the world, and John Lasseter says that Miyazaki is an inspiration to Pixar.
Creating Ponyo: Ponyo took five years to create, its not another Totoro, character of wave, wave creatures, Miyazaki consulted staff about them, they said “whatever” which Miyazaki thought was irresponsible.
Ponyo & Fujimoto: Ponyo is onomatopoeia to describe something soft like a cheek or belly. Brunhilda. Fujimoto depiction of Ghilbi animation director Katsuya Konds. Miyazaki talks about fathers suppressing emotions, fathers/daughter relationships, pushing them away, and their social responsibilities.
The Nursery: the location for Ponyo changed after construction of Studio Ghilbi nursery.
Producers Perspective: Telling the Story: Toshio Suzuki, Producer of Japanese Ponyo, draw image boards. Discussion. Personally favorites are the one he is working on.
The locations of Ponyo: Segment form the Japanese documentary “The Scenery in Ghilbi” profiles real world locations used as inspiration.
Scoring Miyazaki: Joe Hisaishi – composer for Miyazaki films. He talks about how his music is as important as the images in the films his mind. Its nice to hear a composer that understands that the score to a film is vitally important.
Original Japanese movie trailers: Self-explanatory.
Behind the microphone: the voices of Ponyo: Kathleen Kenneiz and Frank Marshall, Executive Producers for the English version of Ponyo speak about the American casting for the film. Most of the actors speak as well including Betty White.
Other Ghibli Worlds Preview
My Neighbor Totoro, creating My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, creating Kiki’s Delivery Service, Castle in the Sky, character sketches.
Enter the Lands
Discovery aspects of each Miyazaki film, a somewhat interactive experience.
A great package, DVD/Blu-ray, for a middle of the road Miyazaki family film.