Since this movie has open its doors to British cinemas countrywide recently this week, I thought it was (un) necessary to search and watch a more lower quality version of the movie on the good ole’ lovable internet cuz’, you know, I can’t be bothered to get my butt off and go to my local cinema and pay £30 or so to watch some movie (hah). But anyway, here’s my review of Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, another wonderfully epic Studio Ghibli film directed by you-know-who, Mr. Hayao Miyazaki.
So first things first, let me start off by the “fine-line” comparison between the original Japanese version of the film (which I have watched) and the English dub done by Walt Disney pictures, which is the initial version released through out cinemas in the Western Society. And whaddya know?
DISNEY TOTALLY FUCKING KILLED THE ORIGINAL THEME SONG.
Honestly the English theme song version of Ponyo is a total disaster. Watched a mirrored video of the theme song on Youtube and I just had to close the tab 20 seconds into the clip. But before I go on and rant about the reasons why, here’s a video to enlighten you a little if you haven’t heard the English theme yet or need a little refresh (watch more than 20 seconds, then you my friend should receive a medal for lasting that long listening to that song);
While I’m at it, here’s the original Japanese theme song so that you can compare the two dastardly songs;
So here’s my (valid) reasons as to why the English theme song totally sucks as hell;
- The song is freaking sung by Frankie Jonas and Noah Cyrus. And further elaboration, it turns out that they take on the main role of Ponyo and Sosuke respectively, and also they’re the younger sister of Hannah Montana and the youngest sibling of the Jonas Brothers respectively! The two youngest siblings of the two most people I despise in the universe COMBINED. Luckily, Disney has spared us from the younger siblings of Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, if they actually have any that is…
- The song totally doesn’t fit jack shit into the movie’s theme AT ALL. What is this a rock concert?? It seems Disney lost track a bit and thinking they were doing a HSM film or something on the lines
- The effects are so god damn ear-soaring.
- The distorted techno vocals made me want to rip my ears clean off the sides of my head. But sadly I didn’t :(
Even though I know of the fact that Disney is pretty much like 4kids and completely Westernises Japanese material so that the Western audiences would “understand it more better than if it was in its original state”, but this is going ridiculously over the top. Even if the movie is initially aimed at the younger audience, surely this they shouldn’t deserve this bullcrap.
But believe me, I don’t really have anything much against Frankie or Noah (but I do for their older bro/sis), their voice acting for Sosuke and Ponyo are actually pretty good for their young shota/loli age. However it’s just that I’m pretty much tired and fed up at how Japanese material, and pretty much Asian/Overseas material at that falls victim to being Westernised by Western licensing companies (ie. 4kids, Disney, Funimation) and the final product “Americanised” version of some form of Asian material ending up to be shitty as hell. That’s life for ya’ I guess.
Original Japanese Teaser Poster
English Teaser Poster
See what I mean?
Aside from the theme song indifferences, the movie was actually pretty good. Not the “best” Ghibli film in my eyes (Personally, Spirited Away was the best for me), but just above the average standard of what a Studio Ghibli film should be. Amazing vibrant visuals, compelling and emotional storyline (yet it was quite lacking in Ponyo…) and the originality each Ghibli film offers. Speaking of the plot, the story and concept presented in Ponyo kind of lacked that of what you’d expect from a Ghibli film, and was more of a heavy dialogue film with not much development going on at all.
What I expected from the plot development was something like Sosuke finding Ponyo on the shores of the sea, then through some circumstances turning into a human, later on snatched away by some wicked evil antagonist and it’s up to Sosuke to rescue her.
But in reality, most of the beginning and middle parts of the film is just Sosuke sticking closely by Ponyo in fish form, turning into a human just after an hour into the film, giant storm breaches which entirely floods and sink the whole town Sosuke lives in, sailing across town in the toy boat Sosuke usually has with him but enlarged by Ponyo’s magical powers. Ponyo suddenly falling unconsious and turning back into a fish, meeting Ponyo’s “parents” who tells him that Ponyo wants to be with him forever and ever therefore wants to become a human, but to become one entirely Ponyo would have to lose her “magical powers” sea creature apparently hone deep within and asks if Sosuke approves of her. Sosuke approves and doesn’t mind the fact that Ponyo is half fish, mermaid human and whatnot… The whole town restored to its original state and apparently freed from its “curse”, Sosuke reunited with Lisa for so long somehow and lovely transformation sequence of Ponyo turning from a fish to a human just at the end of the film. Sweet.
I love this scene :>
OVERALL RATING: 7/10
Lost a few points in story and plot development but forgiven moderately for it’s spectacular colourful environment and art animation. Totally recommend this film to, well, virtually everyone I guess and especially for families looking for a family oriented film and kids.