Film: Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea It’s not often that I get to sit down and watch an entire children’s film, as what little time I do have for cinematic indulgences is usually devoted to catching up on the latest ground breaking documentaries or anything starring James Franco. However, I recently had the pleasure of seeing Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, the newest animated feature film by Hayao Miyazaki, who is unarguably the greatest animator in the history of cinema. Dunny and I are both old and loyal Miyazaki fans, as Totoro, our little blog mascot, will attest to.

Like Miyazaki’s classic My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo deals with the themes of love and friendship, and humanity’s enduring relationship with the natural world, seen with the simplistic clarity of a five-year-old’s eyes. However, this simplicity does not make the film any less profound. There is a particularly timeless quality to this film – something that is not only universally appealing across all generational and cultural barriers, but has the remarkable ability to pull out your inner child and drop it right back into the best summer of your life.

Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea tells the story of a little red goldfish princess named Ponyo and a five-year-old boy named Sosuke who befriends her, and Ponyo’s yearning to become a human herself. The plot is loosely similar to that of the classic Andersen fairy tale, The Little Mermaid, but the love that Ponyo and Sosuke have for each other is the pure, unconditional love of a young child for his first best friend. Ponyo is happily swimming amongst a multitude of marine creatures when she is caught in an industrial fishing net scooping menacingly and indiscriminately at garbage and fragile animal lives alike, and is nearly crushed. The immediate bond she and the human boy Sosuke form after rescues Ponyo from a glass jar and cares for her is an utter delight. As you watch the two youngsters frolic, play, and eat ramen together, the film immerses you completely in a euphoric, childlike joy that washes continually over you like the beautiful watercolor scenes on screen.

In a cynical adult world where “naïve” and “idealistic” are practically bad words, this is a film that reminds us of a time, not too long ago, when it was ok to just have fun and feel good. It teaches us that it is human necessity to be nurtured and to be loved, but also how important it is that we in turn must nurture and love the world around us. The trailer (with English subtitles) can be seen here.


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