If there were any justice in the world, Hayao Miyazaki would be as big in the US as he is in Japan. Throughout his twenty-year career, the man has not made a single bad film. With Ponyo, this trend continues, and while this film may not be among his best work, it is still a wonderful animated film from a true master.
The story follows the relationship between Ponyo and Sosuke. Ponyo may look like an ordinary goldfish, but she is far from it. She is the daughter of a sea goddess and a wizard, so she has many magic powers, chief amongst them the ability to become a human. Sosuke is a five-year-old boy, who one day finds Ponyo on the shore near his home. However, while the two become close, the world around them is tearing apart, because Ponyo’s use of magic has created an imbalance in the world, drawing the moon closer to Earth and the sea rising above land.
If you didn’t catch on already, this is much more of a family Miyazaki film than some of his darker work like Princess Mononoke. That being said, the film does feature the beautiful imagery, strong characters and deep imagination we’ve come to expect from Miyazaki. The American voice cast of Tina Fey, Liam Neeson and Matt Damon do a great job bringing the emotion necessary for the film to work. The film also moves at a brisk pace, not being too overlong like some of Miyazaki’s other work (Howl’s Moving Castle).
However, the film is not perfect. The second half gets bungled down by introducing characters that we only see for a few minutes, then never again. During this time, the characters of Sosuke’s mother (Fey) and father (Damon) are short changed and it makes those aspects of the plot feel underdeveloped.
In spite of some flaws, Ponyo is still a cute children’s film from an animation master. It isn’t his best work (Spirited Away) or his best children’s film (My Neighbor Totoro), but it is still a wonderful film. Ponyo is a film that will release your inner child, that is if you want to let it out.

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