Forum - View topic
REVIEW: Ponyo


Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next

Note: this is the discussion thread for this article

Anime News Network Forum Index -> Site-related -> Talkback
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
penguintruth



Joined: 08 Dec 2004
Posts: 5984
Location: Penguinopolis

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 2:14 am Reply with quote
I certainly want to check this out eventually, though I'm not quite as enthused as when I was waiting to see Spirited Away for the first time. I'm glad the English dub is up to par with the rest of Disney's work with Ghibli films.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address My Anime My Manga
Enner



Joined: 18 Nov 2006
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:21 am Reply with quote
Ah, I want to see this so bad. Nice to hear that the dub is top notch work. I hope this will be opening in a theater near me.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
Neko-sensei



Joined: 19 Jan 2007
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:50 am Reply with quote
First off, I should mention I'm a bit relieved that the plot seems to be pretty much intact in the English dub (I admit to some worries about the promised changes).

I saw this film in Korea (in Japanese), and must respectfully disagree with Zac's main thesis.
Quote:
It's light as a feather, with little to no real meaning or subtext – the wizard's generic dislike of humanity doesn't fuel the main conflict (which is hardly much of a conflict at all, really) and is more of a side note than a real theme within the film.

The second part of the quote is true; the conflict between Fujimoto and humanity is not the central conflict of the movie. No, the central conflict is that between Ponyo and her father, and the central theme of the film is family. Ponyo idolizes her mother and detests her father, while Sosuke's father is mostly absent; these family conflicts drive the story and provide a gentle yet very sincere examination of the meaning and the purpose of the strange connections between parents and children. (Both Ponyo's and Sosuke's fathers can be seen as avatars for Miyazaki himself, who has said that he feels guilty for being always at work and usually absent during his children's youth.)

In fact, this movie is not remotely lacking in meaning or in subtext; on the contrary, it is overflowing with ideas, all rushing to get out as in the speech of children of Sosuke's age. Here are musings about the nature of "child's play" and whether it may in fact be more important than the great grind we call "adult life"; here are reflections upon the "second childhood" granted to the aged (it is very significant that the nursing home and the preschool are right next to each other); here can be found an artistic statement about the nature of animation, which like the film's main element, water, can assume any form yet is capable of fantastic power.

Indeed water is the heart and soul of the film, and is used to evoke a renewed wonder at the mystery of the world (I think that this is the most important function of animation). Ponyo posits that all water is magic: for me the most sorcerous scene in the movie was the one in which Lisa makes instant noodles for Ponyo and Sosuke. The children see the cups of hard, crunchy noodles (Ponyo can't resist munching on a piece and making a face) and watch as Lisa pours in the boiling water and covers the bowls. They wait in an agony of anticipation as the minutes tick by, and then the magic is revealed---the water has transformed the unpalatable blocks of food into a delicious, hot, chewy feast! With expressions of absolute wonderment at this miracle, they begin to eat: thus Ponyo reminds us how mystical the world is through the eyes of a child, a subtext I think is eminently worthy of praise (although perhaps Zac would disagree).

In short, I urge you to see this film in the theaters if you can, despite this somewhat cynical review. There is nothing whatsoever trite or shallow about Ponyo, and it can be thoroughly enjoyed by both children and adults, so long as they value family and wish for a reminder that despite the mundanity of our high-tech existences, even the simplest and smallest elements of our reality are infused with a captivating magic to which we would do well to attend.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Zac
ANN Executive Editor


Joined: 05 Jan 2002
Posts: 6900
Location: Snake Mountain Cocktail Lounge

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 4:19 am Reply with quote
Neko-sensei wrote:
First off, I should mention I'm a bit relieved that the plot seems to be pretty much intact in the English dub (I admit to some worries about the promised changes).

I saw this film in Korea (in Japanese), and must respectfully disagree with Zac's main thesis.


Gotta say, your post was a godsend. I was really hoping for someone to offer me such an intelligent and well-written view on this film that was different from my own. Any film of this caliber deserves vigorous discussion and I really crave alternate takes and opinions I may not have considered upon my initial viewing.

Quote:

The second part of the quote is true; the conflict between Fujimoto and humanity is not the central conflict of the movie. No, the central conflict is that between Ponyo and her father, and the central theme of the film is family. Ponyo idolizes her mother and detests her father, while Sosuke's father is mostly absent; these family conflicts drive the story and provide a gentle yet very sincere examination of the meaning and the purpose of the strange connections between parents and children. (Both Ponyo's and Sosuke's fathers can be seen as avatars for Miyazaki himself, who has said that he feels guilty for being always at work and usually absent during his children's youth.)


While I can see where you're coming from here, Ponyo says exactly one line about her mother and that's pretty much it - spoiler["She's big and beautiful, but she can also be scary!]. I never felt much of a connection there at all, and the narrative structure didn't allow me to - there is no relationship there beyond one line of dialogue. There was more of a loving, established relationship between Lisa and Ponyo by the end of the film.

Also, while I can see how Sosuke's relationship with his father provides us with an analogue for Miyazaki's relationship with his children - especially the very funny and touching scene where he's signaling his father's ship - I don't see how Fujimoto's relationship with Ponyo is supposed to be representative of that, unless you want to read it as him making unreasonable demands and expectations of his children, attempting to force them into being what they're not. In which case this movie must've been very comforting for Goro.

That'd be a really interesting take on it, but I'm not sure the narrative bears that out.

Quote:

Indeed water is the heart and soul of the film, and is used to evoke a renewed wonder at the mystery of the world (I think that this is the most important function of animation). Ponyo posits that all water is magic: for me the most sorcerous scene in the movie was the one in which Lisa makes instant noodles for Ponyo and Sosuke. The children see the cups of hard, crunchy noodles (Ponyo can't resist munching on a piece and making a face) and watch as Lisa pours in the boiling water and covers the bowls. They wait in an agony of anticipation as the minutes tick by, and then the magic is revealed---the water has transformed the unpalatable blocks of food into a delicious, hot, chewy feast! With expressions of absolute wonderment at this miracle, they begin to eat: thus Ponyo reminds us how mystical the world is through the eyes of a child, a subtext I think is eminently worthy of praise (although perhaps Zac would disagree).


No, actually, I wouldn't disagree with you at all and I think you were able to articulate that point much better than I'd be able to. The notion that water is magical - which ties into the ongoing idea that the bottom of the ocean is the new "final frontier" - definitely stood out to me, but in my view it wasn't used "responsibly" - it's effectively a deus ex machina component, and you can use it to explain away any of the seemingly random plot developments that pop up in the film. Ponyo is from the deep ocean, so of course she can turn into a weird muppet-chicken thing and inflate boats and heal the sick... I guess. What?

That ramen noodle scene was brilliant though and I think is a great example of the point you're trying to make.

Quote:
There is nothing whatsoever trite or shallow about Ponyo, and it can be thoroughly enjoyed by both children and adults, so long as they value family and wish for a reminder that despite the mundanity of our high-tech existences, even the simplest and smallest elements of our reality are infused with a captivating magic to which we would do well to attend.


I honestly and sincerely thank you for presenting your take on the film, and I can say you've given me plenty to think about.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime
dormcat
Encyclopedia Editor


Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 9538
Location: New Taipei City, Taiwan, ROC

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 4:30 am Reply with quote
Neko-sensei wrote:
Both Ponyo's and Sosuke's fathers can be seen as avatars for Miyazaki himself, who has said that he feels guilty for being always at work and usually absent during his children's youth.

I've heard rumors about that Hayao was trying to use this movie to mend his relation with his son Goro, especially after the junior had directed Earthsea, yet no other review had described this aspect in detail (most of them just kept saying how cute Ponyo was). Thanks to your excellent post and now I may reconsider watching it.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address Yahoo Messenger MSN Messenger ICQ Number My Anime My Manga
maaya



Joined: 14 Oct 2007
Posts: 976

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 4:50 am Reply with quote
One documentary about the movie stated, that the old lady Toki also represents Miyazaki's mother. She has inspired characters in many of his other films as well.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
neocloud9



Joined: 06 Oct 2008
Posts: 1175
Location: Atlanta, GA

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:14 am Reply with quote
I'm very comforted to hear that the English dub is up to par. I was very nervous when I heard the Disney Channel "teeny bopper" cast. I look forward to being pleasantly surprised now!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Berserkfury819



Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 229
Location: Detroit Mi. Spider-Man is dead. R.I.P.

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 9:49 am Reply with quote
I gotta say I'm really looking forward t this film.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Kyogissun



Joined: 17 Aug 2007
Posts: 676

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 12:05 pm Reply with quote
I gotta say, I'm really NOT looking forward to it now.

It's not that I dislike harmless fairytale's but... I think I'll just stick to the previous stuff...

I'm glad that it seems that Miyazaki got to do as he wanted with this, make a family friendly movie. American movie makers could use a decent run for their money and be reminded that you don't need to be so flashy.

...Though, here's hopes if he does another film, it's closer to Spirited Away in terms of the range in audience it should appeal to.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kadian1364



Joined: 06 Oct 2006
Posts: 58
Location: Indiana

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 1:30 pm Reply with quote
I'm now greatly intrigued by this film now, with Zac's review, which seems to reflect the first impressions of a seasoned anime fan and matured critic, countered by Neko-sensei, who puts forth deeper meanings and interpretations. How Miyazaki's works continue to inspire such articulate discussion is a credit to the man.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Altorrin



Joined: 24 Dec 2007
Posts: 281
Location: Florida, United States

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 1:54 pm Reply with quote
Ah, thank you for the review. I'll know not to watch it now. Stuff like not making any sense bothers the hell out of me. I didn't find any faults in The Little Mermaid but even watching Spirited Away was confusing and Disney's Alice in Wonderland just flat out made no sense (in addition to being a terrible adaptation to the book, which also made no sense, but was funny while doing that). I'm the kind of person using that cold adult logic. If I see one inconsistency or stupid decision, it bothers me for the rest of the episode (and if it's a show, the rest of the series). Like Code Geass. Oh, the second episode. I can't watch that show anymore without thinking "How did he know so fast that she didn't listen to his command because he didn't make direct eye contact? It could've been the distance. It could've been anything! How could anyone figure anything out in one go like that?"
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
ArthurFrDent



Joined: 05 Aug 2008
Posts: 441

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 2:53 pm Reply with quote
A friend in Japan clued me that this is a children's movie as opposed to a teen or adult one... knowing that makes every sense to what I am hearing. I think if people go into it with that expectation, they will be much happier. Once you get older and more cynical, you have to cultivate childlike views... and it is sometimes worth doing.

Probably telling people it's much more like Totoro, will help, because then they will know...
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
spoony



Joined: 30 Nov 2007
Posts: 112
Location: Illinois, US

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:10 pm Reply with quote
Very interesting review! I don't think the fact that its a children's movie is necessarily a bad thing, though I'm glad I can go into it with the right mindset for a children's movie now. Also, thanks to Neko-sensei for giving us such a detailed review of your own; it's always nice to have more than one opinion.

I'm a fan of all of Miyazaki's movies, including the kids' ones like My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service. I think they all have something to offer, and I like the fact that Miyazaki is using different styles. As for things not making sense, there's lots of stuff in Ghibli movies that doesn't make sense to me, including the more adult ones. o_o'

Does anyone know what sort of a theatrical release this is going to have? I'd really like to see it in theaters, and it would be nice if I didn't have to drive for two hours to do it.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
old_yoshi



Joined: 09 May 2009
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:19 pm Reply with quote
When will they release Ocean Waves and Tales of the Earthsea in the US?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
neocloud9



Joined: 06 Oct 2008
Posts: 1175
Location: Atlanta, GA

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 4:09 pm Reply with quote
Out of curiosity, which Ghibli films qualify as "for adults" and which qualify as "for children"? I've enjoyed all of them, but I'd be curious to see how others view the respective target audiences.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Reply to topic    Anime News Network Forum Index -> Site-related -> Talkback All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next
Page 1 of 3

 


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group