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Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

Updated on July 3, 2017

Enter Ponyo's Magical World

A wonderful movie for kids and adults, Ponyo is a magical journey about a fish girl and her human friend from the mind of Hayao Miyazaki. Hayao Miyazaki is the creator of Howl's Moving Castle and Kiki's Delivery Service, as well as many other wonderful movies.

As in all of his movies, Miyazaki is amazingly creative and delivers the story with flair and intelligence. Watch this beautiful tale be told by a master and be prepared to be wowed.

The Story of Ponyo

A Short Synopsis of the Film

Ponyo is an animated tale of boy meets girl. Sosuke is a 5 year-old boy who stumbles upon a bottle on the shore. Stuck inside the bottle is a little goldfish.

Sosuke takes a liking to the goldfish so he names her Ponyo and takes her home. What Sosuke doesn't know though is that Ponyo isn't a normal little fish. She's actually a magical being and her father, Fujimoto, is looking for her.

Fujimoto uses to his magic to make Ponyo return to him and her sisters where Ponyo tells him that she wants to go back and become human so she can be with Sosuke. Fujimoto leaves to find Ponyo's mother, Granmammare, and while he is gone Ponyo breaks loose, becomes human, and returns to Sosuke and his mother, Lisa. This breaks the natural rules of order, and chaos ensues.

Sosuke and Ponyo eventually have to decide if they truly love each other and whether they should really be together.

Ponyo Trailer

Buy Ponyo Now - Get the Two-Disk Special Addition and A Collectible Plush Toy

The Art of Ponyo

Drawing a Movie

The creator of Ponyo, Hayao Miyazaki, is not a fan of CGI. He finds it creepy and has said it is "an insult to life itself". His works of art need to be created in other ways and in the case of Ponyo he chose hand-drawn cel animation. He used more than 160,000 cels in the movie.

Hand-drawn animation certainly isn't easy. The opening 12 seconds of Ponyo, involving vast schools of fish and undersea creatures, required 1613 pages of conceptual sketches to develop.

It is definitely a worthwhile effort though as in the case of most of his movies, Ponyo is extremely visually appealing. It uses a watercolor and pastel-like animation style that is unique and lovely.

The Original Japanese Version of Ponyo

Japanese Version of Ponyo

Japanese Version of Ponyo
Japanese Version of Ponyo | Source

Quick Fact

Hayao Miyazaki based the character of Sosuke on his own son, Goro Miyazaki, when he was five years old

Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea Trailer - Original Japanese Version

Quick Fact

Toki, the bitter old lady in the rest home, is actually an affectionate homage to Miyazaki's mother (as was the mom in Tonari no Totoro).

Voices of the Japanese Version

In the Japanese version of Ponyo the voice of Ponyo was preformed by Yuria Nara. Hiroki Doi did Sosuke's voice. Jôji Tokoro was Fujimoto, and Tomoko Yamaguchi was Risa.

Quick Fact

Ponyo was both written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Ponyo Advertisement in Japan

Ponyo Movie Advertisement in Japan
Ponyo Movie Advertisement in Japan | Source

Quick Fact

Ponyo is loosely based on The Little Mermaid

Ponyo Dolls in Japan

Ponyo Dolls in Japan
Ponyo Dolls in Japan | Source

Quick Fact

Ponyo was released on July 19th, 2008 in Japan and on August 14th, 2009 in the United States

The New American Version of Ponyo

Quick Fact

Melissa Matheson wrote ET as well as the script for the American version of Ponyo

Ponyo with Other Disney Princesses

Ponyo Doll with Disney Princesses
Ponyo Doll with Disney Princesses | Source

Disney Ponyo Stars

Noah Cyrus

Noah Cyrus is the younger sister to Miley Cyrus, the star of Hannah Montana.

Both of the girls are the daughters of Billy Ray Cyrus, who was famous for his country song, Achy Breaky Heart.

Noah does the voice of Ponyo.

This is her first major role, though she has done guest spots in several episodes of Hannah Montana as well as adding her voice to an episode of The Emperor's New School.

I'm sure we'll see more of this spunky young lady in the future.


Frankie Jonas

Frankie Jonas does the voice of Sosuke in the Disney version of Ponyo.

Frankie is the little brother to the famous Jonas Brothers.

Though he has a reoccurring role in his brothers' show, Jonas, this is Frankie's first major role though I'm sure it won't be his last.


Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson is a famous movie star.

He has starred in such films as Schindler's List, Nell, Rob Roy, and Star Wars.

Liam does the voice of Fujimoto who is the father of Ponyo.

Liam Neeson


Quick Fact

Sousuke's father works aboard a ship named the Koganei Maru. Koganei is the town in Western Tokyo where Studio Ghibli is located

At the Ponyo Premiere

The Ponyo Theme Song

Japanese Ponyo Song

Ponyo Title Song - The Theme Song of Ponyo

The complete Ponyo title song in English, sung by Noah Cyrus and Frankie Jonas.

Other Ponyo Fun

Ponyo Is Also Known As

Ponyo Is Also Known As

Ponyo in the USA

Ponyo on the Cliff International (informal literal title) (English title)

Küçük deniz kizi ponyo in Turkey

Ponyo på klippen ved havet in Norway

Ponyo y el secreto de la sirenita in Argentina

Ponyo sur la falaise in France

Ponyo sulla scogliera in Italy

Ponyo rantakalliolla in Finland

Ponyo à Beira-Mar in Portugal

Ponyo das verzauberte Goldfischmädchen in Germany

Ponyo en el acantilado in Spain

Ponyo on Parade


Ponyo at Comic Con


Movie Awards for Ponyo

2008 Venice Film Festival

Won the Future Film Festival Digital Award - Special Mention

Won the Mimmo Rotella Foundation Award

Nominated for the Golden Lion

2009 Mainichi Film Concours

Won the Ofuji Noburo Award

2009 Awards of the Japanese Academy

Won the Award of the Japanese Academy for Best Animation Film

Won the Award of the Japanese Academy for Best Film Score Joe Hisaishi

2009 Asian Film Awards

Won the Asian Film Award for Best Composer Joe Hisaishi

Nominated for the Asian Film Award for Best Director Hayao Miyazaki

Nominated for the Asian Film Award for Best Film

Quick Fact

Ponyo is 100 minutes long

Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki on the Disney Panel at Comic-Con 2009

Ponyo Compared to Other Miyazaki Films

Ponyo has the same style as most of Hayao Miyazaki's other films.

The sense of wonder, beautiful artwork, and imaginative story are all there, as are Miyazaki's other trademarks, reminders of humanity's relationship to nature and a strong, independent girl in a leading role.

Ponyo isn't quite up to Miyazaki's usual caliber though. It is just as beautifully made, with incredible artistry, but the story line seems toned down. Instead of his usual intense style, Ponyo is a bit milder, which accounts for its G-rating.

If you are a devoted Miyazaki fan, you may feel disappointed in the film, but for those with only a glancing appreciation of his work, Ponyo is impressive.

It is not a bad movie in any way, but if normal Miyazaki films are a 12 on a scale of 1 to 10, Ponyo is a 9.

Quick Fact

Ponyo was produced by Studio Ghibli, the studio responsible for many other wonderful movies including: Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky, and Kiki's Delivery Service.

Other Hayao Miyazaki Films

Check Out Some of Miyazaki's Other Creations

These other films by Hayao Miyazaki are wonderful animated adventures as well

Quick Tip

Like many filmmakers, Miyazaki sometimes adds Easter eggs to his movies. See if you can spot a reference to another Miyazaki film while watching the Ponyo movie

Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle is a 2004 animated fantasy film written and also directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It was animated by Studio Ghibli. The dubbed version in English features Emily Mortimer, Jean Simmons, Lauren Bacall, Billy Crystal, and Christian Bale.

Magic is real in this alternate universe, but it resides alongside early 1900's technology. In the classic adventure style, a young girl goes on a trek and meets lots of interesting characters. A witch's curse turns her into an old woman, she meets a wizard, and then fights in a war. The anti-war theme is prevalent, as well as age positivity, compassion, and a strong female protagonist.

It was one of the most successful Japanese films in history in earnings, and was nominated for an Academy Award. It won 4 Tokyo Anime Awards as well as a Nebula. Its beautiful art and complex themes won critical acclaim.

Get Howl's Moving Castle

Spirited Away

Spirited Away is a 2001 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli.

Chihiro Ogino is pouting in the car when her parents take the wrong turn on the way to their new home. They cross over into a strange, abandoned seeming place that Chihiro finds creepy. Instead of sitting at a table and pigging out with her parents, Chihiro wanders the area trying to find another living soul. When she comes back she finds her parents have been transformed and she is on her own. Forced to take a job at the main building -- a bathhouse run by an evil witch -- Chihiro must stay alive long enough to save herself and her parents from the mysterious creatures and world.

Spirited Away is an incredibly successful film. It earned hundreds of millions of dollars as well as receiving widespread critical acclaim. Many people consider it one of the greatest animated films and it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature (the only hand-drawn animated film and Japanese animated film to win Best Animated Feature). It has numerous other awards and the New York Times named it number two in their list of Best Films of the 21st Century So Far.

Get Spirited Away

My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro is an earlier movie from Miyazaki. It was released in 1988. Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, it was also produced by Studio Ghibli.

In this very sweet film the two young daughters of a professor have to move to a new house to be closer to their mother who is in the hospital. The house and the area around it are inhabited by friendly spirits who interact with the girls as they deal with the changes in their lives. Set in postwar rural Japan, My Neighbor Totoro is visually and culturally interesting.

This is often the favorite Miyazaki film of many people and Totoro is an often featured character in merchandise to take advantage of how beloved he and the film are.

My Neighbor Totoro

Kiki's Delivery Service

Released in 1989, Kiki's Delivery Service was written, produced, and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli.

Kiki is a young witch who must make her way in the world with just her familiar, a black cat named Jiji. When she moves to a new town she decides to use her trusty broomstick to fly about delivering packages as a delivery service. A geeky boy obsessed with flight befriends her and she has assorted troubles on her way to becoming a grownup.

Kiki's Delivery Service was the first Miyazaki film I ever watched and not knowing what to expect I was incredibly surprised to see a complex and interesting story about a teenage girl featuring the awkward and silly blunders that can happen to them while still retaining the sense of strength that few films feel females are capable of.

Get Kiki's Delivery Service

The Best of Miyazaki Collection (9 Pack)

Get more of Miyazaki's animated adventures in this 9 DVD set. Containing 9 of his best films on 18 DVDs, you'll get nearly 16 hours of animated genius.

This collection features:

  • Howl's Moving Castle
  • Spirited Away
  • My Neighbor Totoro
  • Kiki's Delivery Service
  • Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind
  • Whisper of The Heart
  • The Cat Returns
  • Porco Rosso
  • Castle In The Sky

Get Ponyo Now

Get a Copy of Ponyo Here and Now

Whether it's Blue-Ray or regular DVD, get your favorite version of Ponyo from Amazon by clicking on the buy it now button below.

Love Ponyo?

Have you seen Ponyo? Love Hayao Miyazaki's work? Leave a comment down below and let me know you stopped by :-)

© 2009 Alisha Vargas

What Do You Think of Ponyo?

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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Ponyo and Totoro were my favorites as a child. It's nice to see them starting to show up again in pop culture!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      My daughters love this movie. They have watched the first part, but fell asleep. I hope they will finish it someday. I was a little confused when Ponyo developed chicken legs instead of fish feet. The beautiful artwork is beautfiful and reminds me of my many visits to Japan. Next time I am there, I must definitely look Ponyo up for a visit. I was also fascitnated by the boat that worked with a candle. I'm not sure that children of that age should be able to use candles by themselves, but it is not my story now is it? The mother needs to attend a driving course soon which will help her in future water driving. Whoever created this movie should really be proud of themselves and sleep well knowing Ponyo is safe. I don't like the mean lady at the retirement home. I bet her children are mean too. Ponyo should have brought some of her sisters to the island too, the party would have been much bigger. Maybe the mother didn't have enough ham. Ponyo's Dad has some very interesting clothes. It has made me question my own wardrobe and want to update some of the things I wear. I was wondering if Ponyo's mother home schools. Sousuke should be careful when dragging Ponyo out of the lake. He could have damaged her face. We love the movie and can't wait for it to come out on DVD. Hats off to all the people responsible for this masterpiece.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      10 years ago from Canada

      Nice collection of Ponyo information.

    • KOrazem profile image

      Seeking Pearls 

      11 years ago from Pueblo West

      Really Great Review. My children crowded around when I was watching the trailer. I suspect the movie will be very successful, the animation is amazing. Love it! 5*

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 

      11 years ago from Los Angeles

      Beautiful lens!

    • shwetashah profile image


      11 years ago

      Love your presentation the way you explained the Ponyo. We are not aware about it in India. So I really found Ponyo interesting and the information are complete wikipedia.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      11 years ago from United States

      This is a great lens and it is very colorful! I might just have to slip into the theater and see the show.


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