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Ponyo is perhaps the most visualizing animated film of the year
Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most visualizing masters of animation, the world has ever seen. Loosely based on the classic fairy tale, "Little Mermaid", "Ponyo" tells the story of a young goldfish, raised by her father, Fujimoto (Liam Neeson), a powerful wizard whom controls the under sea world with his magic. However, one day Ponyo (Noah Lindsey Cyrus) escapes out of her home to catch a glimpse of the human world; only to bump into Sosuke (Frankie Jonas), a human boy that happens to be playing, right out by the ocean shore. Sosuke sees Ponyo trapped inside a discarded jelly jar, so he saves her. Ponyo and Sosuke take a liking to each other immediately, as he decides to keep her as a pet. Eventually, Ponyo grows to fall in love with Sosuke during their time together, despite their young age. Unfortunately, this causes various problems as her father cannot allow them to be together, as they're both from different worlds. However, Ponyo refuses to leave Sosuke's side, so she manages to become human, to be with him. Needless, to say this causes a severe unbalance in nature, as Ponyo and Sosuke's love for each other will be tested. Not only to restore balance to the planet, but to determine if they're love was meant to be. The animation, in this movie, was nothing short of brilliant. Even though this film is one of the few non C.G.I. animated movies of the year, the visuals were simply a feast for the eyes. As Miyazaki portrays a magical world full of beauty and creativity, unlike anything you've seen before. Like all of Hayao Miyazaki's films, the character development is amazing. Although the storyline is fairly more simplistic compared to his other work like "Spirited Away" and "Princess Mononoke", to name a few, it's still richly deep enough to satisfy any Miyazaki's fan's expectations, as he adds just the right amount of humor and drama to keep the viewer entertained. Plus, the voice acting was performed brilliantly by the American dubbed cast. "Ponyo" is by far, the best animated film of the year.
As I've stated before, the animation for this movie is nothing short of breath taking. As it seems the level of detail in the animation, will leave audiences in awe of its beauty. Even though the film doesn't have talking sea creatures, like Disney's original adaptation of the "Little Mermaid", Miyazaki's style animation has the creatures of the deep sea come to life another way, as the level of detail will make anyone marvel at its' beauty.
Unfortunately, I haven't gotten a chance to hear the original Japanese version of this film but from watching the English dubbed version, the voice acting was top quality. As each actor brought their own personality to the role; bringing a strong sense of authenticity to the movie. Featuring the voices of Tina Fey (Lisa), Matt Damon (Koichi), Liam Neeson, Betty White (Noriko), Frankie Jonas, Noah Lindsey Cyrus, Lily Tomlin (Toki), Cate Blanchett (Gran Mamare), and many others. Even the chemistry between Frankie and Noah, seemed to have brought a authentic and warm feeling to the movie.
The character development is what really makes this film worth watching though. Like all of Miyazaki's past work, there is no clear cut antagonist in this film; just two naive innocent characters trying to survive the world, that can be sometimes be cruel. In the film, it heavily revolves around Sosuke and Ponyo's relationship, as it is through their eyes that the audience is able to see their feelings for one another grow as they try to keep together. Indeed, the story line may not be as deep as some of Miyazaki's past work, but "Ponyo" fails to disappoint.
"Ponyo" is definitely the best animated film I've seen all year. Featuring great voice acting, direction, character development, and visual animation that'll entrance audiences world wide. "Ponyo" may not be as commercially popular as some year's other animated films, but it definitely one of the best in terms of quality. I highly recommend this movie for anyone that loves animated films.