Saturday, 28 November 2009

Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea


Gake no Ue no Ponyo; Animated fantasy adventure, Japan, 2008; D: Hayao Miyazaki, S: Hirko Doi, Yuria Nara, Tomoko Yamaguchi, Kazushige Nagashima

A fish-girl, Ponyo, who lives in father's Fujimoto underwater home, curiously swims to the shore of a port town where she is found and saved by a boy, Sosuke, who puts her in a can with water and brings her along to kindergarten. Ponyo gets retrieved back by Fujimoto, but decides she wants to be a human, grows arms and escapes to go back to Sosuke. That causes the flooding of the town. Sosuke and Ponyo go to search for Sosuke's mother Lisa. In the end, Fujimoto and the sea goddess agree to let Ponyo stay in human form.

One last time, the animation veteran Hayao Miyazaki again returned from retirement to direct his 10th and final film and deliver another pure anime jewel to the world. "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea", even though not Miyazaki's best achievement, is a return to his old shape and a spiritual successor to his "Kiki's Delivery Service" and almost all of the great animes he made in the 80s, his most creative phase. Unlike his last two films, "Spirited Away" and "Howl's Mowing Castle", where he went overboard with the phantasmagorical, here he kept a fantasy story with a measure, creating a gentle and wonderful film with a pure heart, and surprisingly addicting water fascination. A simple story (friendship between a boy and an unidentified fish-girl species) that mirrors "The Little Mermaid" became a likable base for a poetic film, filled with neat animation, great shot composition and humor that simply glides throughout. Some scenes are amusingly charming (after a flood hit the port town and placed it under water, fish can be seen swimming through its streets) while other are irresistibly charming (the enchanting moment where Ponyo hugs Sosuke so hard that it leaves a bruise on both of their faces). Innocent, sympathetic and harmless, with a surreal ending that can be forgiven, "Ponyo" is a wonderful relaxed fun that leaves a load of positive energy.

Grade:+++

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