I first saw Ponyo at the Universal Cineplex at 10:10pm on 8/26/2009. I was the only one in the theater that night. The theaters lights when dark, and the movie started right way. I was shocked. I never expected PONYO to have such a wonderful and brilliant story with a take it or leave it message. PONYO is tale of friendship and magic.
The film treats the viewer to Moon shot of boats on a harbor. Then the camera proceeds underneath the ocean, moves its way through the oceans wild life and stops at an underwater boat. A man standing at the boats edge, which is creating more and more ocean life via a strange but colorful substance, the man happens to be Fujimoto (Liam Neeson), Ponyo’s father. The camera then make is its way to an open port hole and Ponyo swims out, and is followed by her sisters. They bring the attention to their father, luckily a big fish blocks his vision, and Ponyo makes a brake for it.
Ponyo makes her way up close to the surface and finds herself in trouble when she gets stuck inside a glass container. Sosuke (Frankie Jonas) finds Ponyo on the coast while playing with his boat. Fujimoto quickly learns of Ponyo’s fate and decides to go after his daughter. When Ponyo accidently licks Sosuke’s blood it cause a turn in events that will either bring dire consequences to the planet or allow her to become one among the humans. Now Fujimoto must find Sosuke’s true feelings or everyone will be doomed. Little did he know that Ponyo and Sosuke had formed a true friendship capable of achieving anything.
What follows next is a story that will touch your heart and open you’re mined. PONYO is a film about courage, friendship, and the beauty of nature. The underlining message about nature is executed nicely. The message is not there to sway you one-way or the other. It’s more of a take it or leave it, but powerful nonetheless. The imagery is some of the best I have seen from anime in a long time. Joe Hisaishi’s Wagner style score and Miyazaki’s directing makes PONYO a true work of art.
Hayao Miyazaki wonderfully directs this masterpiece. This happens to be his 10th film as a director, and on the studio Ghibli film count PONYO as his eight. My opinion, it is his best with Spirited Away tying for fist place. Like I said Joe Hisaishi’s score is a work of art. The music adds an extra level to the story. From the wonderful opening scene to the films’ magical and (for me) heart warming tear jerking finale. Ponyo will captivate your heart for years to come.
Ponyo swims on to Blu-ray with a stunning 1.85:1 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 picture transfer. It’s as clear as a pure spring river. Colors are bright and the line art is crisp and clean. The picture is pure from the normal stuff that plagues other anime show/films. I’m hoping that this is just a taste of what Disney has in store for the rest of the Ghibli film. A job well done indeed!
Ponyo’s DTS HD MA 1.5 track makes its presence known. Ponyo’s audio track seems to be one of the most realistic sound mixes I’ve heard in a long time for an anime film. Dialog is reproduced with pinpoint accuracy. Pans are something to behold, be it a snap of a twig branch, or the yells from Ponyo. The rain effects will make you do a double take as you reach for you umbrella. Yes the sound mixer(s) for this release really when all out. Kudos to the sound Disney’s sound directors.
All the extras are in HD. You’ll need a PS3 or a BD player that is able to play PIP as well as other content.
The World of Ghibli: This is a rather mediocre extra.
Enter the Lands: This is where if you have a kid or are a kid at heart, you’ll have fun. I only had time to play in one land. Naturally you know which one I picked Ponyo’s Land. What character are you? There is a land for all eight of Miyazaki’s films with different activities that you can do in each but two.
Behind That studio: This is the extra that Ghilbi fans will want to watch. It’s interesting and long. This extra ends with the making of the English dub followed by some Japanese trailers for the film. On the next page of this supplement, you’ll get a preview of the other films, which are available in their new Studio Ghibli editions.
Meet Ponyo: This is your normal “We are introducing you to this film because…” this gets repetitive when you’ve seen four Ghibli films on DVD and Blu-ray. A repetitive and routine supplement, but definitely worth a watch nonetheless.
Storyboard Presentation of the Movie: This is my favorite and I’m hoping Disney will do this for all of the Studio Ghibli films released on Blu-ray. if you watch the extra “Meet Ponyo” Kathleen Kennedy says “[his] storyboards are like pictures that you want to hang up on your wall”, and thanks to the supper awesome power of Blu-ray, YOU have the ability to see his story boards via PIP while watching the film. A wonderful supplement that is easily a 5/5 and the best included in the disc.
Sneak Peeks: Trailers for Beauty and the Best and Fantasia and Fantasia 2000, just to name a few.
Disney BD-Live: Standard with every release.
DVD: the only extra on this disc is “Meet Ponyo”. Audio tracks are Japanese, English, and French.
Studio Ghibil fans and parents will want to pick this release to satisfy there kids. Ghibli fans may also want to turn their attention to the Japanese import. Which is better? The Japanese’s or the US Blu-ray of PONYO, it’s debatable. But I’ll say this, Disney towers over the Audio and Picture quality of the Japanese import, but if you want more in the field of extras, Japan and Studio Ghibli has a friend in you. For a film inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid”, PONYO is as fresh as the Ancient Devonian Sea. This is a get it now title! This comes are highly recommended!