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March 9, 2012
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I live near the TIFF Bell Lightbox and recently it was announced that they were going to do a showcase of all the Miyazaki films. Seeing an opportunity I decided to buy tickets to every screening I could go to. After all it’s a reviewer’s fantasy. There were four movies I couldn’t make it to however – one of which luckily I saw very recently. That is Ponyo. So after watching it again I decided to post my first review in what I like to call Miyazaki Mania.

The story centres around a fish named Ponyo wanting to turn into a human so she can be with the love of her life Saseke and it may just end up deciding the fate of the world. I guess the first thing to talk about is the characters and like in any Miyazaki movie they are pretty good. Ponyo is rather enjoyable particularly when she is a human. Throughout the movie she switches between her fish form, her human form and this weird in between form that looks like it’s a cross between a human, a frog and a chicken. Admittedly, her fish form is very cute, but I always found but I always her human form to have this overwhelming charm to her that is impossible to ignore. Saseke, though not the most engaging protagonist is still very, very likeable, though most of that likeability does stem from his interactions with Ponyo.

There are two characters I have problems with in this movie. The first being Saseke’s mother. Don’t get me wrong, I think she is a very enjoyable character. But she drives like a maniac, which if she was alone, would be funny. But she always has a kid with her - and in the front seat, no less. I don’t know, sort of a minor thing, but it is always something that bothered me about this movie. The second character I haven’t a problem with is Ponyo’s father. Now I’m only taking about the English version here because I really like this guy in the Japanese version. What could be the difference? Well, in the English version he is voiced by Liam Neeson - the only person in the world who can out-bore Kevin Kostner. Every single line is the same and it gets really old, really fast. He even sounds bored when he’s talking about how the moon is going to crash into the earth obliterating all life on the planet (insert Majora’s Mask joke here).

But enough about the characters, how is the movie as a whole? Well... it’s good. But it is not fantastic. The plot point about the end of the world seems really unnecessary. I think if you had just made it about a little fish who wanted to fall in love with a human boy, that would have held up fine. That being said, this is a very enjoyable movie. The animation is great, the characters are extremely loveable, and though the ending is odd, it is relatively satisfying. It’s not my favourite Miyazaki film, in fact, I probably wouldn’t even put it in my top 5. Still, it’s not a bad movie and I think if you like Miyazaki movies or just 2 D animated movies in general, this is a movie I would definitely recommend for you.

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