PONYO ON THE CLIFF BY THE SEA
Japan, 2008, 101 minutes, Colour.
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea is aimed at very young children – and reaches its target excellently. It does not condescend, tells a plain and simple story with touches of delight, humour, moments of fright. This is a satisfying combination. Because it works at this level, it is also agreeable for adults who enjoy animation films.
Director Hayao Miyazaki has been involved in Japanese animation since the 1980s. However, he had some years of study in the United States, especially with John Lasseter from Pixar Studios. He received the Academy Award for the best animation film of 2003 with Spirited Away. He followed this with the strong animation film for children and adults, Howell’s Moving Castle.
The film has a fairytale tone to it, sufficient realistic aspects that children can identify with. Just as Finding Nemo showed that audiences around the world respond to an entertaining film about fish, so this film about a goldfish who wants to become a little girl, is befriended by a little Japanese boy, is threatened by her sorcerer father but rescued by the Queen of the Sea, her mother, has all the ingredients to make an attractive film.
1.The appeal of the film, the animation, Japanese style, universal?
2.The director and his work, his visual style, taking fairy stories, taking delight in the stories and characters?
3.The simplicity of the plot, the animation, the characters? The age target? For adults?
4.The animation style, the credits with the fish and the sea, the boats? The sorcerer, the humans, on land, the Queen of the Sea? The effect? The musical score? The Ponyo Song and the final credits?
5.Ponyo in the sea, the whole family, the threats of the bigger fish, getting out, escaping, the jellyfish cover, caught in the jar? The boats, the dangers? The sorcerer’s pursuit? Washed onto the shore?
6.Susoke and his plane, on the rocks, finding the bottle, getting Ponyo out? His delight? Keeping her in the bucket, the waves pursuing Ponyo, the fish waves? Ponyo as a character, understanding Susoke, speaking, spitting the water? Up in the house, Susoke saving her, in the car, going to school, his mother, the elderly people, his playing with Ponyo, her squirting?
7.Susoke as a little boy, his relationship with his mother, the father on the boat and waving to him? His relationship with the old ladies?
8.The sorcerer, changing the fish into the waves, taking Ponyo back into the depths?
9.Ponyo and the elixir of life, into the sea, the floods, the effect on the town, the cliff, the elderly people? Their being rejuvenated in the water with the elixir of life?
10.The Queen of the Sea, her beauty, Ponyo’s mother, the relationship with the sorcerer, the confrontation?
11.Ponyo as a little girl, her powers, play, her being returned to the sea, reduced, the mission to stop the flood, with Susoke, the love of Susoke, the queen and urging them on? The old people and their support?
12.The queen, the restoration of the balance of the world? Ponyo as loved, allowed to be a little girl?
13.The gravity of the earth, the moon, the earth being saved? The sorcerer returning to the sea in his boat?
14.The popular ingredients, the human and environmental messages?