(崖の上のポニョ, Gake no Ue no Ponyo, literally "Ponyo on the Cliff") is a 2008
Japanese animated film by Studio Ghibli, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
It is Miyazaki's eighth film for Ghibli, and his tenth overall. The plot centers
on a goldfish named Ponyo who befriends a five-year-old human boy Sōsuke and
wants to become a human girl.
The film has won several awards, including the Japan Academy Prize for Animation
of the Year. It was released in Japan on July 19, 2008 and August 14, 2009 in
the US and Canada.
The plot is centered on a fish girl who lives in an aquarium in her father's
underwater castle. Ponyo is by far the largest of her siblings and when her
father takes her and her siblings on an outing in his four-flippered submarine,
she is driven by a desire to see even more of the world. She has a close call
with a dredger and ends up trapped inside a glass bottle and stranded near the
shore where she is rescued by Sōsuke, a five-year-old boy whose family lives on
a cliff. Sōsuke believes that she is dead until she licks the blood from a small
cut he got from breaking the glass from around her. After taking a great liking
to her, Sōsuke names Ponyo and vows to protect her forever. Meanwhile, her
father Fujimoto, a sorcerer who once was human is looking for his daughter. He
even goes so far as to venture onto dry land. He is determined to return her to
her ocean home and believes that she was "captured" by a human. Sōsuke takes
Ponyo to school and ventures near the ocean after Ponyo upsets a nursing home
resident by squiring her in the face. While at the water's edge, Ponyo begins to
speak. He then loses her in a flood of Fujimoto's wave spirits that carry Ponyo
away from him. Sōsuke is heartbroken by this and begins to wade out to sea after
her and is rescued by his mother, Lisa, who takes him home. Lisa doesn't
entirely appreciate how heartbroken Sōsuke is until she herself is frustrated
that her husband won't be able to leave the boat he works on to come home for
dinner. She then tries to cheer him up, but to no avail.
Ponyo and her father have a confrontation, where Ponyo refuses to let her father
call her "Brünnhilde". She declares her name to be Ponyo, and voices her desire
to become human because she has started to fall in love with Sōsuke. Using human
DNA from Sōsuke's blood, she immediately sprouts chicken arms and legs and
begins to grow in size. Her father silences her with difficulty and reverts her
to her original fish form and then goes to summon Ponyo's mother, Granmammare, a
powerful sea goddess, for help. Meanwhile, Ponyo, with the help of her sisters,
breaks away from her aquarium and is washed into a vault containing a powerful
magic elixir that her father had been collecting in order to transform the
oceans with an explosion of life and put an end to age of human exploitation.
Ponyo's power increases so much that she is able to become human while all her
siblings become enormous whale-sized fish made of water. The moon's gravity
increases enormously, pulling the water into a mountainous tide that raises the
level of the ocean. Running on the backs of wave-fish, Ponyo goes back to find
Sōsuke. She follows Lisa's car as she races up road overlooking the sea, but
just as she's about to catch them, she reverts to her middle form, the one with
the chicken arms and legs, and falls all the way down the cliff into the water.
Sōsuke tells Lisa that he's just seen a little girl go into the ocean and she
immediately stops her car. Sōsuke is nearly blown into the water by the wind,
but is caught by his mother and put back into the car. They finish racing to
their house. Ponyo then comes out of the waves and runs to Sōsuke, becoming
fully human again in mid run. Sōsuke manages to recognize her despite her
transformation. Lisa, Sōsuke, and Ponyo stay the night at Sōsuke's house, hoping
the storm will end. After they turn on the emergency generator, turning their
house into a lighthouse, Lisa leaves the house to check up on the residents of
the nursing home where she works.
Granmammare, Ponyo's mother, arrives at Fujimoto's submarine. Fujimoto notices
the moon has come out of its orbit and the satellites are falling like shooting
stars. Granmammare declares that if Sōsuke and Ponyo pass a test of true love,
Ponyo will become permanently human and lose her magic, restoring the world to
its natural order. Sōsuke and Ponyo wake up to find that most of the land around
the house has been covered by the ocean, all the way up to the bottom of the
door's house. The sea has also become very calm. Lisa has not come home yet, so
with the help of Ponyo's magic, they make Sōsuke's toy boat large enough to ride
in and set out to find Lisa. While traveling they see ancient extinct fish from
the Devonian era swimming, such as the Bothriolepis, Dipnorhynchus, Devonynchus,
Gogonasus and Licosus.
After landing and finding Lisa's empty car, Ponyo and Sōsuke go through a tunnel
reminiscent of the one in Spirited Away. Ponyo becomes very sleepy and while
inside the tunnel she reverts back to her middle form with chicken arms and legs
and then to her original fish form. Sōsuke and Ponyo find the hill-top park (now
an island) where the nursing home residents were supposed to evacuate to. Only
one nursing home resident remains. They are then all taken by Fujimoto into the
ocean and down to the magically protected nursing home where they're reunited
with Lisa and meet Granmammare. Granmammare asks Sōsuke if he can love Ponyo in
her fish form. Sōsuke replies that he loves Ponyo in all her forms. Granmammare
then tells Ponyo that to become human she must give up her magic. She then
places Ponyo in a bubble and tells Sōsuke that she'll become human again when he
kisses her after returning to the land. Ponyo's siblings crowd near her and
begin to absorb her magic which they transfer to Granmammare.
Once they return to the surface, they find the world already returning to
normal. The sky is full of helicopters and airplanes and many ships that had
been pulled by the moon's gravity to the base of a mountain of water are
returning to port, including the ship that Sōsuke's father, Koichi, works on.
Impatient to become human again, Ponyo flies into the air, comes down again and
lands a flying kiss on Sōsuke's. She immediately becomes human. The final frame
of the movie shows Ponyo frozen in mid air, less than an inch from Sōsuke's
- Eli Marienthal as Hogarth Hughes: an energetic, curious boy with an
active imagination. Hogarth befriends and takes the Giant under his wing,
teaching him to speak and satisfying his appetite for metal objects. Hogarth
hides the giant from his mother, the townspeople and the government. He is
also a grade ahead because he "just does the homework".
- Jennifer Aniston as Annie Hughes: Hogarth's mother is in her early
30s who works hard as a waitress in the local diner. As a single mom, Annie is
somewhat cautious over her son's activities.
- Harry Connick, Jr. as Dean McCoppin: A beatnik artist and junk yard
owner who "sees art where others see junk" and is the same age as Hogarth's
mom. Dean has a laid-back attitude and helps protect the Giant with Hogarth.
He is initially aggravated by the presence of the giant in his junk yard, as
he has to pay him constant attention, to make sure he doesn't eat any of his
- Vin Diesel as The Iron Giant: A 50-foot, metal-eating robot that
enters Hogarth's life and changes everything. With eyes that glow and can
change to red when threatened or angry, parts that transform and reassemble
(and indestructible to virtually anything), he becomes best friend and hero to
Hogarth. While capable of incredible destructive powers (the extensive and
lethal arsenal he is equipped with would suggest his original purpose was not
one of peace), he is rendered benign by damage to his head. Hogarth teaches
him to use his strength for good rather than destruction, proving to the world
that he recognizes the value of life. The Giant reacts defensively if it
recognizes anything as a weapon, immediately attempting to destroy it, but can
- Christopher McDonald as Kent Mansley: the de facto villain of the
film, Mansley is a manipulative, ambitious, arrogant, self-centered and
paranoid 47-year-old government agent sent to investigate the Iron Giant. With
a secret agenda to boost his own career, Kent is simultaneously on Hogarth's
trail to get information. Convinced he has proof of the Iron Giant's existence
and eager to make his reputation, Mansley calls in the military to protect the
townspeople from the threat he perceives in the Giant.
- John Mahoney as General Rogard: Military leader in Washington, D.C.
who strongly dislikes Mansley and his attitude.
Cloris Leachman, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, M. Emmet Walsh and James Gammon
all have cameo appearances.
Production on Ponyo started October 2006.
Miyazaki was intimately involved with the hand-drawn animation in Ponyo.
He preferred to draw the sea and waves himself, and enjoyed experimenting with
how to express this important part of the film. This level of detailed drawing
resulted in 170,000 separate images—a record for a Miyazaki film.
Ponyo's name is an onomatopoeia, based on Miyazaki's idea of what a "soft,
squishy softness" sounds like when touched.
The seaside village where the story takes place is inspired by Tomonoura, a real
town in Setonaikai National Park in Japan, where Miyazaki stayed in 2005. Some
of the setting and story was affected by Wagner's Die Walküre. The character of
Sōsuke is based on Miyazaki's son Gorō Miyazaki when he was five. Sōsuke's name
is taken from the hero in the famous novel The Gate.
The name of the ship on which Sōsuke's father works is Koganeimaru, a reference
to Studio Ghibli's location in Koganei, Tokyo. Maru (丸?) is a common ending for
ship names. It literally means circle.
The film was released by Toho on July 19, 2008, in theatres across Japan on 481
screens—a record for a domestic film. The film's distributor Toho announced
that, by 3pm, the first day box office earnings had already reached 83% of the
opening day figure for Spirited Away, which went on to gross a
record-breaking ¥30.4 billion (US$284 million). Variety reported that posters on
the popular 2channel Internet bulletin board, however, claim that Toho is
spinning Ponyo's opening figures. Variety reports that: "in fact,
Spirited Away opened to only 336 screens and spent a year to score its
record numbers. "Spirited Away"'s first day total was only ¥550 million (US$5.1
million), which means Ponyo's Saturday take was about ¥450 million
(US$4.2 million). Blog posters also reported empty seats at Ponyo
screenings in Tokyo and elsewhere — a sharp contrast from previous Miyazaki
films that drew long lines and packed theaters from day one. The 2008 Pokémon
film, Pokémon: Giratina and the Sky Warrior, was also released on
the same weekend which may have attracted viewers away from Ponyo.
Nonetheless, Ponyo grossed ¥10 billion ($91 million) in its first month
of release, and surpassed ten million viewers in its first 41 days, compared to
31 days for Spirited Away, 44 days for Howl's Moving Castle, and
66 days for Princess Mononoke.
It has grossed a total of ¥15.0 billion ($153.1 million) as of November 9, 2008.
Tokyo Anime Fair chose Ponyo as Animation of the Year of 2008 which was
revealed in a press release by Anime News Network.
Ponyo was released in the U.S. and Canada on August 14, 2009. The film is
produced by Frank Marshall, Hayao Miyazaki, John Lasseter, Steve Alpert and
In July 2009 there were multiple pre-screenings of the movie in California.
Miyazaki traveled to America to promote this movie by speaking at the University
of California, Berkeley and the San Diego Comic-Con.
The film is rated G by the MPAA.
Ponyo's theme song was released on December 5, 2007, performed by Fujioka
Fujimaki (famous duo Takaaki Fujioka and Naoya Fujimaki) and eight year old
Nozomi Ōhashi. It entered the top 100 on the Oricon Weekly Charts on July 14,
then rose to 24th on (July 21), then 6th on (July 28), and after the release of
the film it ranked 3rd (August 4). By the end of 2008, it was ranked as the 14th
highest selling single on the Oricon Yearly Charts. Ōhashi was also the youngest
participart in the 59th NHK Kōhaku Uta Gassen, beating -ute's Hagiwara Mai's
record at age 11. Afterwards, Ohashi announced that Fujioka Fujimaki was
An English-translated pop version of the theme was recorded by Frankie Jonas and
Noah Cyrus, the voices of Sōsuke and Ponyo in the North American dub, to tie in
with the film's English release. The theme plays over the English version's
The film has received generally positive reviews. As of August 14, 2009, Rotten
Tomatoes reported that the film has a "certified fresh" rating of 95%, based on
78 reviews (74 "Fresh, 4 "Rotten"), with an average score of 7.7 and a Top
Critics' score of 91%. The consensus is that "While not Miyazaki's best film,
Ponyo is a visually stunning fairy tale that's a sweetly poetic treat for
children and Miyazaki fans of all ages."
The Japan Times gave the film four out of five stars, and praised the film's
simple thematic elements and its visual scheme, and compared the film to
Miyazaki's classic animation My Neighbor Totoro.
Critics at the Venice International Film Festival generally had high praise.
Wendy Ide on Times Online said Ponyo "is as chaotic and exuberant as a
story told by a hyperactive toddler," and gave it 4 stars out of 5.
Additionally, famed movie critic Roger Ebert gave the film four out of
four stars, the highest rank on his review scale, stating that, "There is a word
to describe “Ponyo,” and that word is magical. This poetic, visually
breathtaking work by the greatest of all animators has such deep charm that
adults and children will both be touched. It’s wonderful and never even seems to
try: It unfolds fantastically."
The movie was rated #2 on Dentsu's list of "2008 Hit Products in Japan", after
the Wii console.
Ponyo was an entrant in the 65th Venice International Film Festival. It
received a special mention in the Venice Future Film Festival, for "the high
artistic and expressive quality of animation able to give form to wonderful
imagination of the worldwide cinema master".
In 2009, Ponyo won five awards at the 8th annual Tokyo Anime Awards. The
awards included "Anime of the year" and "Best domestic feature". Miyazaki
received the award for best director and best original story, and Noboru Yoshida
received the award for best art direction.
The film won the awards for Animation of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in
Music at the 32nd Japan Academy Prize.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia
article "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea" and is licensed under the
GNU Free Documentation License.