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Ponyo (voiced by Noah Lindsey Cyrus) is a young goldfish who lives with her hundreds of siblings in the ocean, under the watchful eye of her sorcerer father Fiujimoto (voiced by Liam Neeson). When Ponyo becomes trapped in a glass bottle and swept to shore, she is rescued by 5-year old Sosuke (voiced by Frankie Jonas) and they form a bond. A drop of Sosuke's blood allows Ponyo to use her power and become the little girl she so desperately wants to become. However, Fujimoto is not about to let her go, resulting in an imbalance between the worlds, when gravity sets the moon in a collision course with the Earth. Only Ponyo can restore the balance and her Goddess of the Sea mother Granmamare (voiced by Cate Blanchett) comes to the rescue.

Review by Louise Keller:
Love conquers all is the theme of Hayao Miyazaki's enchanting new animation, in which a magical young goldfish aspires to become a little girl. It might sound like a Japanese twist on The Little Mermaid tale, but there is nothing about Miyazaki's vision that feels derivative. Exquisite artwork backgrounds makes us feel we are living the adventure inside a painting, while endearing characters keep us grounded in reality by delivering identifiable heart-felt emotions. It's the inventiveness and extraordinary detail that stands out - I love the way water is used as a character. Waves with eyes that race over the ocean like dark blue tresses on speed make for wonderful imagery. And the young protagonist magically makes us feel as though we too, are five years old - able and willing to take a giant leap of faith and believe the unbelievable.

The opening underwater sequence is visual candy, when we are introduced into the colourful everyday world of the little goldfish Ponyo (voiced by Noah Lindsey Cyrus) who lives her life in a bubble. With a mop of unruly curly red hair and an ultra cute little face, it is hard not to be totally enraptured by Ponyo and her world. But she is no ordinary goldfish. Unlike her hundreds of clone brothers and sisters, Ponyo has a mind of her own and a grand dream. Much to her make-up wearing sorcerer father Fuijimoto (voiced by Liam Neeson)'s dismay. Her elusive mother - Cate Blanchett's Goddess of the Sea Granmamare - is the epitome of beauty and knowledge. The adventure begins when five year old Sosuke (voiced by Frankie Jonas) rescues Ponyo from the glass jar in which she is trapped.

Miyazaki's story takes us into parallel worlds above and below the sea. Ponyo's integration into Sosuke's world has many amusing and memorable moments such as the scene in which Ponyo runs enthusiastically across the tops of the waves. We become involved in Sosuke's home life with his temperamental mother Lisa (voiced by Tina Fey) and his often absent fisherman father Koichi (Matt Damon). The scene in which Sosuke's parents have a blazing row in Morse code from shore to ship is hilarious. There's also an engaging subplot involving a retirement home (Betty White and Lily Tomlin voices a couple of the residents).

Released also in the original Japanese version with English subtitles, Ponyo takes us into a wondrous wonderland for young and old. If you enjoyed Spirited Away, you will love this new adventure that offers a springboard into a world filled with magic, fun and laughter.

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(Japan, 2008)

VOICES: Dubbed version: Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Frankie Jonas, Liam Neeson and Noah Cyrus; Subtitled version: Yuria Nara, Hiroki Doi, Jôji Tokoro, Tomoko Yamaguchi, Yuki Amami

PRODUCER: Steve Alpert, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Toshio Suzuki

DIRECTOR: Hayao Miyazaki

SCRIPT: Hayao Miyazaki (Adaptation by Jean-Marc Pannetier)


EDITOR: Hayao Miyazaki, Takeshi Seyama

MUSIC: Joe Hisaishi

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Noboru Yoshida (art direction)

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes



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