Last June 22nd, I finally decided to watch Gake no Ue no PONYO (PONYO on the Cliff of the Sea). I had it copied from my internship mentor during one of those
days miraculous free times that we had in our shift. That was more than a month ago.
I have a confession and I ask you not to hate or bash me because of it.
I’m not a Studio Ghibli fan. I didn’t grow up watching Miyazaki Hayao films. It’s needless to say that I’m not a huge fan of Disney fantasy or princess movies, though I appreciate quite a lot of them. Why did I mention Disney although this post is about Japanese animation? Well, Studio Ghibli films are ‘adopted’ by Disney when they are sold in the West. Of course, they’d be dubbing them in English so that English-speaking children
and adults can watch them without looking for subtitles. Speaking of subtitles, I was kind of disappointed to find none in this particular movie. Why? It’s English dubbed.
Relax. I have nothing against English dubbed anime (but I sometimes ridicule them, not openly or publicly though). It’s just that I prefer watching anime in original Japanese dub and English subtitles (Thank you, fansubbers!). Fifteen minutes into the movie I was finally doubting if I could manage to finish it. Maybe I could just stop it and download the movie with the Japanese dub instead. But I didn’t end up with that choice.
The English dub was really good (unlike most of the English dubbed TV anime that I make fun of) and pleasant to my ears. It was really a job well done by the dubbers: Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchett, Noah Cyrus, Frankie Jonas, Matt Damon, etc. The dialogues felt really natural and their voices suit the characters. Sasuga Disney! The soundtrack was kind of generic and can be easily forgotten for a children’s movie and Studio Ghibli piece, but it was generally good. Each scene had its own suitable track. What I really liked in the sound aspect were the sound effects: opening doors, ripples, waves, heavy rain, strong winds, boats, magic, etc. The scenes were very detailed in terms of sound effects. Sasuga Studio Ghibli!
Of course, the animation is top-notch. You can see the effort that the animators put into the work, along with their pride (like always, all the animators’ names are displayed in the ending credits). Sasuga animetaa! There were a lot of motions in just one scene and the background art is also as detailed. Take a look at these snapshots:
The colors used appear to be very simple in some scenes, but with the fluid animation, they become a feast for the eyes.
I didn’t expect to enjoy the movie story-wise because I didn’t really enjoy the earlier works of Miyazaki Hayao. But this one felt simple and light-hearted. It kinda reminded me of The Little Mermaid, because of some similarities.
I recommend this movie for those who seek light-hearted watch from time to time. It’s good to watch when you’re on a break from the stressful things around you.