Friday, August 14, 2009

Ponyo finds wonder under the waves

Posted By on Fri, Aug 14, 2009 at 6:55 PM

click to enlarge SEA AND BE SEEN: Sosuke (right) and Ponyo
  • SEA AND BE SEEN: Sosuke (right) and Ponyo

A childlike “Hello Kitty” quality informs the animation of Ponyo, a G-rated fable from Hayao Miyazaki. The 68-year-old Japanese master of old-school 2-D simplifies his textured style for Ponyo, as if he wants to craft a film for his grandkids’ generation. Compared to the fine details and rich colors of Miyazaki masterpieces such as Spirited Away, Ponyo presents emblematic pastels and objects that look like bath toys. At times, Ponyo resembles wallpaper for children’s rooms come to life.

It’s worth getting used to Ponyo’s juvenile visual style to appreciate the film’s dreamy sense of wonder. Tenuously connected to The Little Mermaid, Ponyo depicts 5-year-old Sosuke (voiced by Frankie Jonas), a boy who lives in a Japanese port community and one day rescues a magical fish-girl he names Ponyo. Ponyo (Noah Cyrus, amusing but occasionally shrill) proves to be a decidedly odd creation: Above the neck, she looks like a big-eyed, tow-headed toddler, but below, she’s a sea creature whose rippling body resembles the red dress of Little Lulu from old comic strips.

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(Photo courtesy Disney)

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