Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (崖の上のポニョ, Gake no Ue no Ponyo), released in Japan as Ponyo on the Cliff, is an animated film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. It was released by Toho on July 19, 2008, in theatres across Japan.

It is Miyazaki's eighth film to be made under the studio, and his first feature-length film since Howl's Moving Castle released four years prior. The plot centers on a goldfish named Ponyo who desperately wants to be a human. In pursuing her goal, she befriends a five-year-old human boy, Sōsuke.

The theme song for Ponyo was performed by Fujioka Fujimaki (famous duo Takaaki Fujioka and Naoya Fujimaki) and Nozomi Ohashi, who was only eight years old at the time of the film's production. The official website for Ponyo also opened on December 5, 2007. On March 6, 2008, producer Toshio Suzuki announced that Akiko Yano would be performing for the film as well.

A two-part documentary about Ponyo was broadcast on NHK on March 27, 2007 and August 5, 2008,[1]. How Ponyo Was Born, an extensive 12-hour and 30 minutes documentary was released on DVD on December 8, 2009 by Walt Disney Japan.

Advertising Slogans

The theatrical poster contained the following slogan:

  • "I'm glad I was born." (生まれてきてよかった。)
  • "I will never forget my childhood promises." (子どもの頃の約束は、永遠に忘れない。) (Used in a TV Spot)

Plot

Deep Sea Pastures

"Her name is Ponyo. She likes to eat ham. And she can do magic! I got a cut on my thumb, and it went away because she licked it."

"Oh! Maybe she could use some of her magic to fix my hips and back."

"I'd let a fish lick me if it'd get me out of this wheelchair."
—Sōsuke showing Ponyo to Yoshie and Kayo

Fleeing her overbearing father, little Ponyo floats away on a jellyfish.

The plot centers on a goldfish named Brunhilde and a boy named Sōsuke who renames her Ponyo. Fujimoto, a once-human wizard/scientist, lives underwater along with his daughter, Brunhilde, and her numerous smaller sisters. While she and her siblings are on an outing with their father in his four-flippered submarine, Brunhilde sneaks off and floats away on the back of a jellyfish. After an encounter with a fishing trawler, she drifts to the shore of a small fishing town in a glass jar where she is rescued by a five-year-old boy named Sōsuke. Shattering the jar open with a rock, Sōsuke cuts his finger in the process. Brunhilde licks his wound causing it to heal almost instantly.

Meanwhile Fujimoto is looking for her and his waves tell him, he believes she has been kidnapped. Fujimoto using a water canister sprays water so he can walk on land. Sōsuke’s mother Lisa thinks it’s weed killer but Fujimoto tells her that it’s Ocean Water. Lisa drives away before he can say anything else. While driving Lisa comments on how pretty she looks. Sōsuke names her Ponyo and promises to protect her. Meanwhile, a distraught Fujimoto searches frantically for his lost daughter but gets caught by all the waste in the ocean. Sōsuke tries to show off Ponyo to one of his friends but she disapproves and calls Ponyo boring and for that she gets water on her dress. Two people at the senior home where Lisa works do like Ponyo but Toki does not and also gets sprayed. Scared he runs and hides and during this Ponyo speaks to him which amazes him. Fujimoto soon finds them and calls his wave spirits to recover her, leaving Sōsuke heartbroken. On the way home Lisa tells him that he did try to take care of Ponyo, having her live in a bucket was not a good idea. When they get home Sōsuke leaves the pail on the fence in case Ponyo comes back. The day does not get better as Sōsuke's Dad can't come home that night as hoped and Lisa takes it hard and doesn't want to signal her husband as he passes. Sōsuke wishes his Dad well and tries to cheer up a Lisa, it does not take long and she decides to have desert and dinner, saying that the whole day has been backwards.

I Want to Be a Girl!

"Ah, yes. I can feel the power of the ocean in the furthest reaches of my DNA. When this well is full, then the age of the ocean will begin again. An explosion of life to match the Cambrian age. An end to the era of those abominable humans."
—Fujimoto

Sōsuke getting a nice big hug from his mom Lisa.

Ponyo and Fujimoto have an argument, during which Ponyo refuses to let her father call her by her birth name. She declares her desire to be known as 'Ponyo' and to become human. Even though her father warns her about the dark side of humans but she won’t listen. Using her magic, she forces herself to grow leg- and arm-like appendages and start changing into a human, a power granted to her by the human blood she ingested when she licked Sōsuke's finger. Her alarmed father forces her to change back into her true form and leaves to summon Ponyo's mother, Granmamare.

Meanwhile, Ponyo, with the help of her sisters, breaks away from her father and inadvertently uses his magic to make herself fully human. The huge amount of magic that she releases into the ocean causes an imbalance in the world, resulting in a tsunami, leaving ships stranded at sea. Ponyo goes back to Sōsuke, who is amazed and overjoyed to see her. He tells his mother that Ponyo has returned as a little girl. Lisa allows Ponyo to stay at their house for the time being. Lisa, Sōsuke, and Ponyo wait out the storm at Sōsuke's house. After a warm drink Ponyo talks about her parents and they soon get the generator started, with Ponyo's help. They try and communicate with Sōsuke’s dad even though they get no response. Soon they have Ramen for dinner which Ponyo is amazed by especially since it has ham. After dinner, Ponyo is exhausted from using so much magic so she falls asleep. Outside the waves have calmed down but it has reached the road. Worried about the residents of the nursing home where she works, Lisa leaves to check up on them and promising Sōsuke that she will return home as soon as possible.

A Night of Shooting Stars

"Listen, my darling, why don't we let Ponyo become human for good? We must test the boy. If Sōsuke's love is true, Ponyo will be permanently transformed and the balance of nature will be restored."

"But if his love isn't real, then Ponyo will turn into sea foam."
"True. That is where we all originated, my darling."

"The boy is so young, so innocent."
—Granmamare and Fujimoto discuss testing Sōsuke

Ponyo's arrival causes a massive Tsunami that sinks the entire coast.

Sōsuke's father, Kōichi, sees Ponyo's mother, Granmamare traveling and recognizes her as the Goddess of Mercy. Fujimoto soon comes to Sōsuke's house and shocked to discover that not only has Ponyo's magic gotten stronger, she is also fully human. Granmamare arrives at Fujimoto's submarine, he is very happy to see her again, she tells him that her ocean has gotten bigger. Fujimoto tells her that their daughter is now a human and blames himself for what happened and notices the moon appears to be falling out of its orbit and satellites are falling like shooting stars, symptoms of the dangerous imbalance of nature that now exists. Granmamare declares that if Sōsuke can pass a test, Ponyo can live as a human and that the order of the world will be restored. A still-worried Fujimoto reminds her that if Sōsuke fails the test, Ponyo will turn into sea foam. Granmamare tells him they must let the children rest before tomorrow's test.

The Toy Boat

"Look at that. The ocean is at our door."

"How come your mom's not here?"
"The water's so high. She must be stuck. Too bad we don't have a boat."
"There's a boat, right there!"
"It's a little small."

"No, it's not."
—Ponyo and Sōsuke

Ponyo and Sōsuke set out to find Lisa and the rest of the grandmothers at the retirement home.

Sōsuke and Ponyo wake up to find that most of the land around the house has been covered by the ocean. Since it is impossible for Lisa to come home, the two children decide to find her. With the help of Ponyo's magic, they make Sōsuke's toy pop pop boat life-size and set out across the swollen ocean. Along they way they see many fish and a family who knows Sōsuke and his family. Ponyo gives some soup for the baby but since he can only drink milk at his age Ponyo let’s the mother drink it. Soon enough the whole town comes on boats and tells everyone to come to a nearby hotel for safety. The two friends hurry on their way to find the seniors who might be at the park.

When Ponyo and Sōsuke make it to the forest, however, Ponyo tires and falls asleep only to be woken by Sōsuke, who implores her to ignite a second candle as the one powering their boat is about to go out. Ponyo then dozes off multiple times before concentrating enough to make the candle, which then goes out. She then passes out, and Sōsuke has to push the boat to shore, only to find that the boat, deprived of Ponyo's magic, is reverting to its toy size. Sōsuke drags Ponyo to the shore, where he finds Lisa's abandoned car. When Sōsuke cannot find Lisa, he is terrified. Ponyo then wakes up, and the two decide to continue looking for her.

The Grand Finale

"Sōsuke, Ponyo openeda magic well because she wants very much to be human, to become a real girl. She needs you to accept and love her as she truly is. You know that Ponyo was a fish, don't you? And youknow her as a human. Your drop of blood did that."

"Oh, that's it! I cut my thumb. Then Ponyo licked it and made it better. So that's how she changed into a human."
"Could you love her if she moved between two worlds?"

"Mm-hm. I love all the Ponyos. It's a big responsibility, but I really love her."
—Granmamare making Sōsuke swear to love Ponyo

Lisa strikes a deal with Granmamare and that Sōsuke would love Ponyo until the end of time.

Meanwhile, Lisa and the residents of the nursing home, who are temporarily able to breath water because of Granmamare, are waiting excitedly below the surface for Ponyo and Sōsuke to arrive. Ponyo and Sōsuke head into a tunnel. Inside Ponyo reverts to being a fish due to overuse of her magical powers. Sōsuke and Ponyo encounter Fujimoto, who warns the boy that the balance of nature is in danger and begs Sosuke to return Ponyo to him. Sōsuke doubts Fujimoto and attempts to flee, but the two children are quickly captured and Fujimoto takes them down to the protected nursing home.

Sōsuke is reunited with Lisa and meets Granmamare, with whom Lisa has just had a long private conversation. Granmamare asks Sōsuke if he can love Ponyo whether she is a fish or human. Sōsuke replies that he "loves all the Ponyos." Granmamare then tells her daughter that if she chooses to become human once and for all, she will have to give up her magical powers. Ponyo agrees to this, so Granmamare encases her in a bubble and gives her to Sōsuke. She tells him that kissing the bubble will complete Ponyo's transformation. The balance of nature is thus restored and the previously stranded ships head back to port. Fujimoto respects his daughter's choice to become a human, having decided he can trust Sōsuke with Ponyo's welfare. Lisa and Sōsuke go to meet Koichi whose ship has arriving. Ponyo then joyfully jumps high in the air and kisses Sōsuke, completing her transformation as a human.

Characters

Ponyo (ポニョ , Ponyo)
Yuria Nara (Japanese), Noah Cyrus (English)
The protagonist of this tale. She is a little goldfish girl whose real name is Brünhilde. She's the daughter of the overprotective Fujimoto and the goddess Granmamare. She is curious about the surface world and dreams of becoming human after meeting Sôsuke, a little human boy. Sôsuke names her "Ponyo", which is an onomatopoeia of the sound produced by the elastic matter of her body while she is still in fish form. She is obsessed with ham.
Her body undergoes metamorphosis from its primitive form of jinmengyo to hangyojin to a fully formed human. Hangyojin is Ponyo's intermediate form. This term characterizes a human who is not yet completely one. When Ponyo is fully human, she can grow exhausted and can regress to her hangyojin form.
Sôsuke (そうすけ , Sōsuke)
Hiroki Doi (Japanese), Frankie Jonas (English)
Sôsuke is a carefree and honest young boy of five who lives in a small village by the sea. He lives in a house atop a cliff. As his father is a boat captain and is always away, he lives alone with his mother Lisa. He adores the sea and the boats, probably due to his father but also to forge a bond with him, because he has a great admiration for him. Perhaps that is why he takes special care with his model boat and his sailor's cap offered by his father Kôichi. Likewise, to communicate with him more easily, and despite his very young age, he learned Morse code. He forms a strong bond with Ponyo after rescuing her from inside a jar.

The name is said to have been taken from Natsume Sōseki's 1910 novel "The Gate" (門 , Mon), where the protagonist Sousuke Nonaka "lives quietly in a house under a cliff."

Lisa (リサ , Risa)
Tomoko Yamaguchi (Japanese), Tina Fey (English)
Lisa is Sôsuke's mother. She's 25-years old and works at the retirement home of Tournesols. She brings up Sôsuke on her own because her husband is not often at home because of his work as a sailor. She desperately hopes for his return.
Cheerful and frank, she often acts first before thinking. Her rather reckless way of driving reflects this character trait well. According to Hayao Miyazaki's physical criteria, she seems to be very young and, a detail that 'sows trouble', as Sôsuke calls her by her first name.
Lisa also holds several faces, that of the “classic” maternal figure when she takes care of Ponyo and Sôsuke with kindness. Another as the big sister, ready to look at and accept the world around her through Sôsuke's eyes. And finally, that of a little girl, when she is disappointed, like when she learns that her husband will not come home and she starts sulking. It is at this point where Sôsuke has to take care and console her.
Koichi (こういち , Kōichi)
Kazushige Nagashima (Japanese), Matt Damon (English)
Lisa's 30-year old husband and Sôsuke's father. Referred to as "Koichi" by Sôsuke and Lisa. Captain of the cargo ship "Koganei Maru". He is often away from home because of his work, but he loves his family dearly.
Fujimoto (フジモト , Fujimoto)
George Tokoro (Japanese), Liam Neeson (English)
Fujimoto is Ponyo's father. Disgusted with humanity's disregard of nature, he abandoned terrestrial life and his status as a human being to live among the flora and fauna of the oceans. He travels underwater aboard an underwater boat he named the "Basking Shark" , characterized by four fish fins.
Fujimoto is a researcher, exhibiting traits of a mad scientist. During his long research at the bottom of the sea, he invented the "water of life", a liquid which revitalizes the energy of the living beings of the sea. With this power, he hopes to reverse the balance of power that exists between the sea and the continents, with the sea dominating the world.
In love with Ponyo's mother, he hopes their daughter will be the next monarch in the new world. An overbearing and overprotective father, he cannot understand why Ponyo would rebel against her chosen fate. He gradually lets go of his great plans to destroy the world and accepts the choice of his daughter, thus coming to terms with the terrestrial world and his own nature.
Granmamare (グランマンマーレ, Guranmanmāre)
Yūki Amami (Japanese), Cate Blanchett (English)
Mother of Ponyo but also a goddess of the sea. She has for a long time protected and observed the fauna and flora of the oceans. Unlike Fujimoto, she approves of Ponyo's relationship with Sôsuke.
Yoshie (ヨシエ , Yoshie)
Tomoko Naraoka (Japanese), Betty White (English)
One of the grannies at the retirement home. She speaks slowly and her character is gentle as suggested by her rounded physique.
Kayo (カヨ , Kayo)
Tokie Hidari (Japanese), Cloris Leachman (English)
One of the grannies who gets along well with Yoshie. She is usually calm, but when she gains the power to walk again she suddenly becomes very active.
Toki (トキ , Toki)
Kazuko Yoshiyuki (Japanese), Lily Tomlin (English)
She is not very pleasant and is always against everything. She does not seem to support Sôsuke, but her final behavior actually shows that she has grown very attached to the little boy.

Behind the Scenes

Early Development

Hayao Miyazaki and acclaimed children's author Rieko Nakagawa are frequent collaborators. Reiko herself wrote the lyrics for an insert song to "My Neighbor Totoro".

Four years after Howl's Moving Castle, Hayao Miyazaki expressed his desire to make a film for children. He and Toshio Suzuki first set off on a project to adapt No-No Nursery School (いやいやえん , Iya Iya En , published in 1962) by acclaimed children's author Rieko Nakagawa. He was particularly interested in the transformation aspects in the story, which reminded him of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid as well as the traditional Japanese folktale Urashima Tarō (浦島 太郎).

According to French fansite Buta Connection, they eventually gave up on this idea and in 2005, Miyazaki goes on a company trip to a house on a cliff at Setonaikai National Park (瀬戸内海国立公園 , Setonaikai Kokuritsu Kōen) in Tomonoura, overlooking the Japanese Inland Sea... This is where Ponyo's idea begins to germinate. During this stay, he immersed himself in another work, "The Gate" (門, Mon), by Sôseki Natsume and fell under the spell of the main character, a boy living at the foot of a cliff, called Sôsuke.[2] Miyazaki would later elaborate on his experience, "I really liked Tomonoura in Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture, which was a port town in the Seto Inland Sea that I visited on a company trip to Studio Ghibli in November 2004. I stayed in a house on the cliff next door for two months, and in the summer of 2006, I stayed alone. The concept of this work was also elaborated at this time." He joked in an NHK interview that his wife allowed him to stay on the condition that he "send a picture every day (to her) as proof of life."

The NHK documentary on the making of Ponyo features Miyazaki at the drawing board.

Development of the film began around spring of 2006, as production of Gorô Miyazaki's Tales from Earthsea drew to a close. From January 2006, Hayao Miyazaki locked himself in his personal studio and he began churning out watercolor sketches furiously. By drawing in this way, he helps build a solid foundation for the idea for his film. In one of these sketches, he renders a cute red-headed girl who would become the protagonist of the film, "Every time I paint and whatever I paint, the drawers of my brain start to open little by little... In any case, that's what I want..."

Hayao Miyazaki working on his tribute art for Robert Westall.

The director also readily admits that during the period leading up to the development of a film, he sometimes does things that have nothing to do with the film proper. Thus during this period, he drew a a twenty-page manga entitled A Trip To Tynemouth, a tribute piece to British author Robert Westall's short story, Blackham's Wimpy, which was first published in his 1982 anthology, Break of Dark. Many of Westall's stories dealt with his experiences in World War II, addressing complex, adult themes for a children's and teenagers' audience. In the manga, Miyazaki, drawn as a pig, visits Tynemouth in an attempt to meet Robert Westall, drawn as a terrier, and gets to have a conversation with him over a pint of beer and a walk along Tynemouth Longstands beach.[3] The comic was released alongside a reprint of Westall's work in 2006.

Pre-production

Miyazaki and his regular collaborators, animation director Katsuya Kondō and artistic director Noboru Yoshida, working to flesh out Ponyo.

It was only three months later, on May 8, 2006, that Miyazaki began talking about the idea for the film to his two main collaborators, his animation director Katsuya Kondō and his artistic director Noboru Yoshida. He briefly explains to them the general idea of ​​the film: the story of Ponyo, a fish princess with a human face, born out of the love of her mother (Granmamare), the sea, and her father, Fujimoto, a human being. She runs aground on a beach and is saved by a 5-year-old boy named Sōsuke. The title of this new movie: Ponyo on the Cliff.

At this point, according to Buta Connection, the story has yet to be finalized. Miyazaki only has a vague idea of ​​what the film will be, and that it must be fun and happy. "I want the movie to make Ponyo look cute and Sôsuke to be a brave boy..." “I wanted to use the sea for a long time. But drawing the waves is a really tough challenge. There are different types of waves: those that get damaged on the beach, those that make up storms... I dream of being able to represent a beach with a simple drawing but very moving."

Miyazaki laughs upon seeing Kondō's daughter Fuki, which helped serve as inspiration for Ponyo's carefree attitude.

It is now well known that Miyazaki finds part of his ideas in everything he observes in his close entourage. It is his famous technique of "working within a radius of 3 meters". For example, the bus stop seen in My Neighbor Totoro is inspired by the one near his home. Ponyo, for her part, finds her inspiration in the character of Fuki, the daughter of her collaborator Katsuya Kondō.

Miyazaki asked her animation director to tell her about her daughter's character. For example, at a year and a half, she still refuses to hold her bottle: she already has character! From the details Kondô provided him, Ponyo's character has already evolved in Miyazaki's mind. The director appreciated his strong character for such a little girl and that is exactly what he seeks for the character of Ponyo.

But one of Miyazaki's main crafting secrets is to start each new movie by drawing image boards (color drawings that set the mood for scenes in the movie) that reflect the story. The director layers on paper as many images as possible that have come out of his head. He begins by drawing without even having a specific story in mind. Little by little, he integrates scenes and patterns that he would like to draw. At first, his ideas are not very precise, but he forces himself to draw. He hopes that this will make his imagination work. “The creation of image boards is a bit like the idea of ​​putting a hook in the water of a river: we know that there are fish in the water, but sometimes they don't bite!"

Various image boards for the film, including its title card.

Along with the design of the image boards, Miyazaki is thinking about the film's script, especially the opening scene. He hesitates between starting his story by presenting the daily life of Sôsuke, a scene which would allow the audience to easily enter the story, or by the underwater life of Ponyo, which would be a more original but also more enigmatic for the public. But Miyazaki also believes that childish logic is not that of adults and that they will adapt very easily to such a start. Thus, Miyazaki chooses to open the film from Ponyo's perspective.

From that moment on, Miyazaki's imagination blossomed and he quickly completed almost all of the image boards at the start of the film. He quickly comes to drawing a group of jellyfish and associating Ponyo with them. He then goes on to draw a boat, which, in the morning, will surprise Ponyo with its noise.

But soon after Miyazaki begins writing the script, he tears it up. He then begins to regret having engaged in the creation of a new film. For the elder director, the creation of a film is punctuated by many doubts. Three weeks would pass following the meeting between the director and his two main collaborators. More and more image boards are completed but Miyazaki remains anxious as he seeks a different approach compared to his other films. Following Spirited Away, Miyazaki himself felt that he had reached a limit in the density of detail that his images could offer.

Miyazaki took a key trip to Tate Britain in London to see Pre-Raphaelite paintings, including the infamous "Ophélie" by John Everett Millais.

It was on February 2005 that he became fully aware of this flaw during a trip to England, in a visit to Tate Britain in London. While reading "La Porte", he discovered that the author, Sôseki Natsume, had a passion for the painting "Ophélie" (1851-1852) by John Everett Millais. He then went to the London museum where he was amazed by the pre-Raphaelite painters of the mid-nineteenth century, and more particularly by Millais's painting.[4] “This painting is as dense as the images in my films. I finally realized that I was doing the same thing as these painters, but less well. There is therefore no point in continuing on this path because I cannot surpass them." The director decides to change course and pass a more detailed constantly style to a more simple style and natural, closer to the line of origin of the Studio Ghibli.

Hayao returned to Tomonoura in Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture right before animation production began.

Miyazaki also decides that the film would not be using CG-elements and instead be drawn entirely in 2-D. "Drawing on paper is the root of animation. I think I'll go back to that. Once again, I'll row the oars myself, raise the sails in the wind and cross the sea. Anyway, I'll draw with a pencil."

On June 2006, Miyazaki begins to simplify his drawings by carefully avoiding rendering detailed shadows and light reflections. He begins using dry pastels, a coloring technique that he had never used before. He devotes much time and effort depicting the tsunami sequence, which he considered an incredibly important scene for the film. Noboru Yoshida discovered his drawings and began to realize the difficulty of creating a rhythmic film with Miyazaki's simple and refined image boards.

The work on the image board finished, Miyazaki then begins to work on the e-konte (detailed storyboards) of the film. The director describes Ponyo's world as a strange and ancient. For this film, he decided that the e-konte would be in color, in part to facilitate the work of the art and color directors. Each new part of the completed e-konte is given to the animators who could then begin the animation work.

Production

Miyazaki seeking inspiration to complete his storyboards at Tomonoura.

At the beginning of July 2006, Hayao Miyazaki set off on a yet another research trip by the sea, in Setouchi (瀬戸内地方), in western Japan (Okayama Prefecture). The beginning of animation production is imminent. He takes this opportunity to find himself alone, for a week, in the house of one of his friends, on the edge of a cliff. While there, he busies himself by working on the e-konte of the film. But the closer the production period approaches, the more nervous and moody he is.

In mid-July 2006, he returned to Ghibli's production studio in Koganei. By this point, he had already drawn around fifty image boards during pre-production and continues to develop the e-konte of the film. “It's a job that I keep for myself, because only myself can I trust."

Ghibli staff on alert as Miyazaki returns to his desk after his brief trip to continue working on the film.

According to Buta Connection, the great peculiarity of Miyazaki's e-konte is that they are created like the chapters of a manga. At regular intervals, after having finished drawing a few pages, he stops and puts the words “to be continued” at the bottom of his last page to create an expectation on the part of his team. He then takes a break for a few days, or even weeks, to think about the next developments in the story. “Even if we already have an idea of ​​the end of the story, it will always change during production."

Producer Toshio Suzuki explains that although production on the film has already started, he and the staff cannot guess where they are going. Miyazaki himself doesn't know that either. Everyone will have to doubt whether each new contribution will ultimately result in a good film. In the same way, as in a painting, the characters themselves also evolve through the film's ongoing production. In the case of Ponyo's character, the further the production goes, the more concerned Miyazaki is about the character's selfish and immature personality. He imagines that she will have a hard time living in human society and begins to worry about her future. In order for Ponyo to adapt well to what he describes as 'male society', he thinks he needs to add a scene. But he does not yet know which one.

Miyazaki displaying varioius image boards of Ponyo to help inspire him and his collaborators.

He goes back to the elaboration of the e-konte and finally composes the scene where Ponyo, for the first time, offers something to others: soup and a sandwich to a couple and their baby. When Ponyo then crushes the cheeks of the sulking baby, it is meant to instill a sense of optimism in him. Miyazaki believes that this kind of gesture brings a great emotional evolution to children. With this scene, Miyazaki makes sure that Ponyo will do good things when she becomes human.

It was not until March 8, 2007, 11 months after production began, that the very first shot of the film, showing Ponyo surrounded by jellyfish, was completed. But at the end of summer 2007, the creation of animation slowed down immensely. The rate at which the director checks the animation has dropped significantly. Due to fatigue, the number of shots to control is piling up. But the most problematic remains the e-konte. This one remained blocked when the Ponyo and Sôsuke leave by boat. Only until the end of the film does it finally focus on how Sôsuke manages to keep his promise to watch over Ponyo. But Miyazaki thinks she still lacks a bit of impact. He is looking for a new sequence, which, although not necessary, is striking.

Miyazaki working on the title sequence of the film. The opening is purposefully different from his previous films.

It was in the fall of 2007, when he was approaching his 67 years, that Hayao Miyazaki said to Toshio Suzuki: “I have reached an age where I can count on my fingers the years that remain to me. to live. Soon I will find my mother. What am I going to tell him when that moment arrives?" This question has been central to the creation and all the work he has done around the film. And even if in the end, it is not necessarily clear and explicit for the spectator on the screen, it is precisely by evoking the memory of his missing mother that he will try to nourish the development of the story of his mother.

In the past, in some of his films, Miyazaki has already made latent references to his sick mother, who suffered from severe tuberculosis from the director's early childhood. He has already represented her at each of the periods of her life as a woman: Dora, in Castle in the Sky; Mei and Satsuki's mother in My Neighbor Totoro; Sophie, in Howl's Moving Castle). This time, it is through the character of the grandmother Toki that he will evoke it. The character is lonely and difficult with the people around him. At this stage, Miyazaki does not yet have a precise idea but he now knows that he wants to create a striking sequence bringing together Toki and Sôsuke.

Miyazaki initially worried Ponyo's character seemed selfish, thus he mined memories of his mother and developed new scenes of Ponyo acting kind towards others.

October 18, 2007 becomes a critical date for the production of the film. The e-konte is still at a standstill and dangerously slows down the entire making of the film. The production asks him to finish it by the end of October. But in vain, the e-konte remains at a standstill. The studio will finally decide to wait a little longer and postpone its completion date to the end of 2007.

On December 3, 2007, a conference was organized at Studio Ghibli in front of the media to present the title song of the film. When asked about it, Miyazaki hopes that since the song is happy, it will have such a cheerful conclusion. But he also lets guess the creative impasse in which he finds himself and admits that he does not yet know it himself because the e-konte is still not completed.

Miyazaki has so far not listened to the provisional music for the film. The next day, he forces himself to listen to the Image Album of the film, supervised by Joe Hisaishi. The last song, Himawari no Ie no Rinbu Kyoku (Rondo of the House of Sunflowers), which expresses the feelings of grandmothers in their retirement home, catches his attention. The track reminds him of his mother and although it is emotionally a bit difficult for him, he listens to the song several times.

Thanks to Joe Hisaishi's early contributions to the film's soundtrack, along with the memories of his mother, Miyazaki completed a key scene of Toki giving much hug and encouragement to Sōsuke.

By mid-December 2007, Miyazaki finally resumes drawing the e-konte of the sequence he was looking for. In it, Fujimoto stands in front of Sôsuke who then tries to escape to protect Ponyo. Suddenly, Toki appears and calls the boy to save him. For this sequence, the director tries to appeal to the frustration he felt in his early childhood at not being able to hug his sick mother as much as he wanted. He wonders how Sôsuke could hug Toki. Or how he would do it if he found himself facing his mother. The director finally decides that it is Toki who will embrace Sôsuke frontally. He is satisfied with this sequence through which he has found a way to exorcise what he has been feeling since his childhood.

The final word, concerning this end-of-production crisis, will come back to producer Toshio Suzuki: “There is a reunion scene in the film. Of course, these aren't the ones Hayao told me about. We don't see him in the film either, but through a five-year-old boy, Sôsuke, he finds an old lady he seems to know well. I won't tell you what they're saying to each other. I'm just asking you to watch the movie, and enjoy..."

Release

Country Release Date Format Publisher
Japan Japan.jpg July 19, 2008 Theater Toho
Japan Japan.jpg October 15, 2008 DVD Toho
USA US.jpg August 14, 2009 Theater The Walt Disney Company

Hayao Miyazaki makes his first film in three years at Ponyo's press conference. Also in attendance were Producer Toshio Suzuki, Fujioka-Fujimaki and Nozomi Ohashi.[5]

The film was released by Toho on July 19, 2008, in theatres across Japan on 481 screens—a record for a domestic film. As it had beaten Pocket Monsters Diamond & Pearl the Movie: Giratina (劇場版ポケットモンスター ダイヤモンド&パール ギラティナと氷空(そら)の花束 シェイミ , Gekijōban Poketto Monsutā Daiyamondo Pāru Giratina to Sora no Hanataba Sheimi) and the Bouquet of the (Frozen) Sky: Shaymin (which had opened on the same day). It grossed ¥10 billion ($91 million) in its first month of release, and a total of ¥15.0 billion ($153.1 million) as of November 9, 2008.

Tokyo Anime Fair chose Ponyo as Animation of the Year of 2008, as revealed in a press release by Anime News Network.

Ponyo was released in the U.S. and Canada on August 14, 2009 by Walt Disney Pictures and The Kennedy/Marshall Company, opening at a wide release at 927 theaters across America, which is by far the widest release for a Studio Ghibli film ever in the U.S, as compared to other Miyazaki films (Spirited Away opened in 26 theaters, Howl's Moving Castle opened in 36 theaters, and Princess Mononoke opened in 38 theaters).

Fujioka Fujimaki and Naoya Fujimaki singing the theme of the film during an NHK program.

The film's English dub was directed by John Lasseter, Brad Lewis and Peter Sohn of Pixar and produced by Frank Marshall, Hayao Miyazaki, John Lasseter, Steve Alpert, and Kathleen Kennedy; the English script was written by Melissa Mathison.

In July 2009, there were multiple pre-screenings of the film in California. Miyazaki traveled to America to promote this film by speaking at the University of California, Berkeley and the San Diego Comic-Con.

GKIDS re-issued the movie on Blu-ray & DVD on October 17, 2017 under a new deal with Studio Ghibli.

The film has been re-released from March 25–28, 2018 for its 10th anniversary.

Broadcast

On May 2018, a special 10th anniversary vinyl Ponyo figure (1,800円) and bucket (640円) was released at Donguri Republic Store.[6]

On July 3, 2009, the making-of documentary Ponyo was born in this way. ~ Hayao Miyazaki's thinking process was released on DVD and Blu-ray in Japan. The documentary was also packaged with the Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea Special Preservation Edition, but its release was delayed to December due to certain music rights not being properly obtained. Fortunately, the release of the regular DVD edition was not delayed. The film was also released on VHS, albeit in limited quantities.

On February 5, 2010, Ponyo was broadcast on Nippon Television's Friday Special Road Show programming block. The audience rating was an excellent 29.8% (Kanto area, according to Video Research). On August 24, 2012, a second broadcast was made, it's first since its debut on Friday Road SHOW!. On February 13, 2015, the third broadcast was held.

The new edition of the Blu-ray version was released on November 16, 2011.

Reception

A new poster for the film was unveiled for its mainland China release on December 14, 2020, to coincide with the film's long-awaited release on December 31st - 12 years after its release in Japan.[7]

Ponyo has received widespread acclaim from film critics. Rotten Tomatoes reported a 92% "Certified Fresh", based on 162 reviews with an average score of 7.6/10, stating "While not Miyazaki's best film, Ponyo is a visually stunning fairy tale that's a sweetly poetic treat for children and Miyazaki fans of all ages." Metacritic reported a Metascore of 86 based on 29 reviews, signifying "universal acclaim".

On its opening weekend in the United States and Canada, it made $3,585,852 on 927 screens, which is a per screen average of $3,868. It also opened at number nine at the United States and Canada box office. The film made a total of $15,090,399 in the United States and Canada and $186,660,538 in other countries for a worldwide total of $201,750,937. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray, as well as a DVD/Plush Toy pack, on March 2, 2010. The Japan Times gave the film four out of five stars, and praised the film's simple thematic elements and its visual scheme, and compared the film to Miyazaki's classic animation My Neighbor Totoro. Anime Diet cited the quality of the translation, noting, "The story and the core of the film were communicated more than adequately through the professional dub and it did not get in the way of the sheer delight and joy that Miyazaki wanted to convey." Citing "slight pacing problems," it gave Ponyo a rating of 88%. The pronunciation of Japanese names in the English cinema version varied between characters, however.

Critics at the Venice International Film Festival generally had high praise. Wendy Ide of The Times said Ponyo "is as chaotic and exuberant as a story told by a hyperactive toddler," and gave it 4 stars out of 5. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a full four stars, the highest rank on his review scale, stating that, "There is a word to describe Ponyo, and that word is magical. This poetic, visually breathtaking work by the greatest of all animators has such deep charm that adults and children will both be touched. It's wonderful and never even seems to try: It unfolds fantastically." The film was rated #2 on Dentsu's list of "2008 Hit Products in Japan", after the Wii console.

Awards

Ponyo was an entrant in the 65th Venice International Film Festival. It received a special mention in the Bologna Future Film Festival, for "the high artistic and expressive quality of animation able to give form to wonderful imagination of the worldwide cinema master". In 2009, Ponyo won five awards at the 8th annual Tokyo Anime Awards. The awards included "Anime of the year" and "Best domestic feature". Miyazaki received the award for best director and best original story, and Noboru Yoshida received the award for best art direction. The film won the awards for Animation of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Music at the 32nd Japan Academy Prize.

Music


Fujioka Fujimaki, a folk band created from two members of the 1970's novelty group Marichans, Takaaki Fujioka and Naoya Fujimaki and then three year old Nozomi Ohashi sang the theme song to Ponyo.

Ponyo's eponymous theme song, Gake no Ue no Ponyo, was released ahead of the film on December 5, 2007, performed by Fujioka Fujimaki (a duo consisting of Takaaki Fujioka and Naoya Fujimaki who are known for their underground band Marichans from the 1970s) and eight-year-old Nozomi Ohashi. It entered the top 100 on the Oricon Weekly Charts on July 14, then rose to 24th on (July 21), then 6th on (July 28), and after the release of the film it ranked 3rd (August 4). By the end of 2008, it was ranked as the 14th highest selling single on the Oricon Yearly Charts. Ōhashi was also the youngest participant in the 59th NHK Kōhaku Uta Gassen, beating Cute's Mai Hagiwara's record at age 11. Afterward, Ōhashi announced her unit with Fujioka Fujimaki was disbanding.

A remastered edition for Ponyo was released on vinyl record for several Ghibli films was released in 2021. Each record sold for ¥3,800 + tax and contained ten tracks and new notes from Joe Hisaishi and Hayao Miyazaki.[8]

An English-translated pop version of the theme was recorded by Frankie Jonas and Noah Cyrus, the voices of Sōsuke and Ponyo in the North American dub, to tie in with the film's English release. The theme plays over the second half of the English version's closing credits; the first half is merely a translated version of the theme rather than remix.

The film score of Ponyo was composed by Joe Hisaishi, Miyazaki's regular collaborator. The score album, published on compact disc in Japan by Tokuma Japan Communications, in South Korea by Pony Canyon and throughout Europe by Germany-based label Colosseum, received a great deal of press in the West, including positive reviews from several veteran film music reviewers.

Ending Credits

As the end credits roll and the theme song plays, the names of the voice cast and staff are featured in alphabetical order. The staff or cast's full name is written without a role name or title, making it impossible to determine who did what. The credits finish with the logo of "Studio Ghibli" and the word "End". This style of credits was also adopted in The Secret World of Arrietty.

US Version Staff

The film's English dub was directed by John Lasseter, Brad Lewis and Peter Sohn of Pixar and produced by Frank Marshall, Hayao Miyazaki, John Lasseter, Steve Alpert, and Kathleen Kennedy; the English script was written by Melissa Mathison.

Trivia

  • HM Queen Silvia of Sweden was granted a sneak preview of the film together with director Hayao Miyazaki during the King and Queen's state visit to Japan on 29 March 2007.
  • In the English dub, Ponyo is voiced by Noah Cyrus, the little sister of singer and actress Miley Cyrus.
  • In the English dub, Sosuke is voiced by Frankie Jonas, the little brother of the boy band The Jonas Brothers.
  • Lisa has a Totoro magnet on her fridge, and at one point in the film sings a lyric from "Stroll" (in both the English and Japanese dub), which suggests My Neighbor Totoro is a film in-universe.
  • A plush of an Ōtori-Sama from Spirited Away can be seen on a shelf at the senior center (clearly visible at around the 21 minute mark).
  • An earthquake with a seismic intensity (震度 , Shindo) of 3 (seismic intensity 4 in Miyagi Prefecture) occurred while Miyazaki was visiting an opening ceremony at Hibiya in Tokyo. Miyazaki muttered, "This is Ponyo," after hearing the tsunami warning.

Voice Cast

Character Japanese cast English dub cast
Sōsuke Hiroki Doi Frankie Jonas
Ponyo Yuria Nara Noah Cyrus
Kōichi Kazushige Nagashima Matt Damon
Fujimoto George Tokoro Liam Neeson
Granmamare Yuki Amami Cate Blanchett
Lisa Tomoko Yamaguchi Tina Fey
Toki Kazuko Yoshiyuki Lily Tomlin
Yoshie Tomoko Naraoka Cloris Leachman
Noriko Tokie Hidari Betty White
Ponyo's Sisters Akiko Yano
Newscaster Shin'ich Hatori Kurt Knutsson
Kumiko Eimi Hiraoka Jennessa Rose
Young Mother Rumi Hiiragi Mona Marshall
Young Father Shirô Saitô Bob Bergen
Kayo Akiko Takeguchi Marsha Clark
Karen Nozomi Ohashi Colleen O'Shaughnessey
Sōsuke's Teacher Eiko Kanasawa Courtnee Draper

Staff

Credit Cast
Director Hayao Miyazaki
Producer Toshio Suzuki
Art Director Noboru Yoshida
Animation Director Katsuya Kondō
Sound Director Eriko Kimura
Executive Producer Koji Hoshino
Background Art Kazuo Oga, Kikuyo Yano, Masako Nagata, Mitsuo Yoshino, Osamu Masuyama, Ryoko Ina, Sayaka Hirahara, Shiho Sato, Yohei Takamatsu, Yoshikazu Fukutome, Youichi Nishikawa, Youichi Watanabe, Youji Takeshige
Key Animation Atsuko Tanaka, Atsushi Tamura, Eiji Yamamori, Fumie Konno, Hideaki Yoshio, Hideki Hamasu, Hiroko Minowa, Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Hiroomi Yamakawa, Kazuyoshi Onoda, Kenichi Konishi, Kenichi Yamada, Makiko Futaki, Makiko Suzuki, Mariko Matsuo, Masafumi Yokota, Masako Sato, Nobuyuki Takeuchi, Sachiko Sugino, Shinji Otsuka, Shougo Furuya, Shunsuke Hirota, Takashi Hashimoto, Takeshi Honda, Tsutomu Awada, Yuichiro Sueyoshi
In-between Animation Akane Ōtani, Akiko Teshima, Alexandra Weihrauch, Asami Ishikado, Atsuko Matsushita, Aya Kubota, Emi Nakamura, Emiko Iwayanagi, Hirofumi Okita, Hiromi Nishikawa, Hisako Yaji, Hisashi Hosaka, Kaori Itou, Katsutoshi Nakamura, Kazuhiro Takamura, Kazune Suzuki, Keiko Tomizawa, Keiko Watanabe, Kiyoko Makita, Kumiko Ohta, Kumiko Ohtani, Kumiko Tanihira, Kumiko Terada, Kunitoshi Ishii, Mai Nakazato, Maiko Matsumura, Makoto Oohara, Mariko Suzuki, Masakiyo Koyama, Masako Azuma, Masako Terada, Masami Nakanishi, Masaya Saito, Maya Fujimori, Mayumi Ohmura, Megumi Higaki, Megumi Matsumoto, Minoru Ohashi, Mitsuo Satou, Moyo Takahashi, Nobuyuki Mitani, Reiko Mano, Rena Okuyama, Rie Fukui, Rie Kondo, Risa Suzuki, Ritsuko Shiina, Saori Yanaga, Seiko Higashi, Setsuya Tanabe, Shinichiro Yamada, Shuntaro Ichimura, Soon-Ha Hwang, Sumie Nishido, Takahiro Takashima, Takahito Sugawara, Tomoko Miura, Tomoko Miyata, Tomoyo Masuda, Tomoyuki Kojima, Yasuko Ohtomo, Yasuyuki Kitazawa, Yayoi Toki, Yohei Nakano, Yoshimi Sagawa, Yoshitake Iwakami, Youko Motoya, Yuka Saitō, Yukari Umebayashi, Yukari Yamaura, Yukie Kaneko, Yūko Kunishima, Yuna Takase, Yuuhei Ueda, Yuuko Azuma
Special Thanks Asuka Kanazawa, Chie Yoshiike, Chūkō Hoshi, Daisuke Tsuchiya, Fumiko Isomae, Fumio Yamazaki, Haruna Hirose, Hideo Tanaka, Hiroomi Tanaka, Itaru Arakawa, Jun Hattori, Keiji Fukuda, Kenichi Kawahito, Kenichi Yoda, Kentaro Takahashi, Maiko Yahata, Masaki Morita, Masanori Saito, Masataka Kato, Miho Sada, Miwako Hamada, Naoya Moritani, Ryūta Yonezawa, Shin'ichi Takai, Shinji Goto, Shinji Koyasu, Shintaro Seki, Soichi Nishizaki, Takaaki Fujioka, Takashi Hayashi, Takumi Kanano, Tomoko Okada, Toshikazu Satō, Yasuhiro Suzuki, Yasuhisa Harada, Yuki Kameda, Yūko Dōsono, Yutaka Kurokouchi,
Post Production Ayaka Nishihara, Noriko Tsushi, Tamaki Kojo
Music Joe Hisaishi
Theme Song Performers Naoya Fujimaki, Nozomi Ōhashi, Takaaki Fujioka
Theme Song Lyrics Hayao Miyazaki, Katsuya Kondo
Cinematography Atsushi Okui
Edit Takeshi Seyama

Related Products

Home Video

  • Ponyo DVD on the Cliff by the Sea - Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (July 3, 2009)
  • Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea Special Preservation Edition (First Press Limited Edition) DVD-Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (December 8, 2009)
  • Ponyo was born in this way. ~ Hayao Miyazaki's Thinking Process ~ DVD --Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (December 8, 2009)
  • DVD (Director Hayao Miyazaki) - Walt Disney Studios Japan (released July 2, 2014)
  • Ponyo Blu-ray Disc on the Cliff - Walt Disney Studios Japan (November 16, 2011)
  • Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea Special Preservation Edition (First Press Limited Edition) Blu-ray Disc - Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (December 8, 2009)
  • Ponyo was born in this way. ~ Hayao Miyazaki's Thinking Process ~ Blu-ray Disc - Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (December 8, 2009)
  • Blu-ray Disc - Walt Disney Studios Japan (Released on July 2, 2014)

Publishing

  • Hayao Miyazaki Anime is amazing! - Understanding all the works up to "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea" (Shikatosha, August 1, 2008) ISBN 978-4-8463-0660-1
  • Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (Shogakukan, August 3, 2008) ISBN 978-4-09-103813-5
  • Ghibli Forest and Ponyo Sea Hayao Miyazaki and "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea" ( Kadokawa Shoten , August 8, 2008) ISBN 978-4-04-854225-8
  • Continue vol.41 "1st Special Feature" Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea "and Studio Ghibli 2008" (Ohta Publishing, August 19, 2008) ISBN 978-4-7783-1144-5
  • Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (Tokuma Anime Picture Book) ( Tokuma Shoten , August 31, 2008) ISBN 978-4-19-862573-3
  • Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (Studio Ghibli Storyboard Complete Works 16) (Studio Ghibli, August 31, 2008) ISBN 978-4-19-862571-9
  • THE ART OF Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea Ponyo on the Cliff (Studio Ghibli, September 1, 2008) ISBN 978-4-19-810012-4
  • Separate volume Kadokawa "All-out special feature Ponyo on the cliff featuring Studio Ghibli" (Kadokawa The Television, September 10, 2008) ISBN 978-4-04-895028-2
  • Ponyo Film Comic on the Cliff by the Sea (1) (Tokuma Shoten, September 15, 2008) ISBN 978-4-19-770143-8
  • Ponyo Film Comic on the Cliff by the Sea (2) (October 1, 2008) ISBN 978-4-19-770144-5
  • Ponyo Film Comic on the Cliff by the Sea (3) (October 15, 2008) ISBN 978-4-19-770145-2
  • Ponyo Film Comic on the Cliff by the Sea (4) (November 1, 2008) ISBN 978-4-19-770146-9
  • Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (Roman Album) (Tokuma Shoten, October 1, 2008) ISBN 978-4-19-720257-7
  • Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (Studio Ghibli Edition, Bungeishunju < Bungei Ghibli Bunko Ghibli Textbook 15>, November 2017) ISBN 978-416-8120138
  • Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (Bungeishunju <Bungei Ghibli Bunko Cinema Comic 15>, May 2019) ISBN 978-416-8121142

Music

  • Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea Image Album - Tokuma Japan Communications (March 2008) TKCA-73309
  • Ponyo Sound Track on the Cliff by the Sea - Tokuma Japan Communications (July 2008) TKCA-73340
  • Studio Ghibli Hayao Miyazaki & Joe Hisaishi Soundtrack CD Boxset [Limited Edition] - Tokuma Japan Communications (July 2014)

Gallery


References

External Links

Official Sites

Information

Encylopedia

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