Saturday, June 25, 2011

Movie Appraisal: Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ) (2008)

Okay, first of all, let me say that I am in no way a fan of anime or manga. I don't mean anything by that besides exactly what that sentence is indicative of. I largely ignore all things anime or manga related, but I will admit that in my admitted ignorance I can find a lot to like from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. If I misspell or misrepresent myself in anyway, I claim full ignorance of the subject matter, but even with that said, I really liked this film.

Ponyo is a film that I would have so much trouble disliking. It is beautiful with its imagery and its use of both characters and setting to move the plot around. I think some of the scenery is absolutely brilliant and gorgeous, easily allowing it to become the best looking animated film I have ever seen. Seriously, watching it for the imagery alone is enough to bring this film into masterpiece territory. It reminds me somewhat of the visual imagery of a movie such as Fantasia, but with a great plot to go with it.

I guess a mention of the plot, a goldfish (the title character) turns herself into a little girl and falls in love with a little boy (Sōsuke) who falls in love with her. It is cute, but also poignant. It tugs at heart-strings while making you laugh. And a scene towards the end of the movie with Ponyo and Sōsuke in a little boat is probably the single greatest thing in the entire film and if you don't find a smile cracking on your face then you simply cannot feel happiness.

It's a cute film, let's be honest here. It's easy to follow and although easily accessible by adults clearly seems intended for a younger audience. Even saying that, I found myself drawn in by the fantastic story and the characters so cute that you just wanted to give them all a hug and make everything better. It's hard for me to say something like that. I am a huge fan of horror, with psychological horror being my genre of choice, but I can admire a well-done film, even one that seems to be the antithesis of everything I love about the films that I love. The quality is so wonderful and the feeling you get at the end of the film, just by watching it... well, it's just absolutely priceless. It could bring a smile to the face of one as cold as stone.

I can't really make my review extra long here. I don't have a lot to say but praise of it. It's not my favorite film of Studio Ghibli or Hayao Miyazaki. That honor would go to Spirited Away, which is also in my favorite films of all time. Ponyo though stands up on its own merits and its own quality. Take a look at it if you want to see something of great quality and great beauty.

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