Ponyo, initially titled in English as Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, is a Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli. It is Miyazaki’s eighth film for Ghibli, and his tenth overall.
Some interesting facts about Ponyo:
- Sôsuke is based on Hayao Miyazaki’s son Goro Miyazaki, when he was five years old.
- Sôsuke’s father works aboard a ship named the Koganei maru. Koganei is the town in Western Tokyo where Studio Ghibli is located.
- The opening 12 seconds, involving vast schools of fish and undersea creatures, required 1613 pages of conceptual sketches to develop.
- The first Hayao Miyazaki film to be rated G by the MPAA since the release of Kiki’s Delivery Service in 1998.
- Melissa Matheson, the writer of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, revised the English translation for the American version.
- This was the first animated film to be nominated for and win the Best Film Score prize at the Japanese Academy Awards.
- Sôsuke is a reference to the works of famous Japanese novelist ‘Sôseki Natsume’ (1867-1916). In ‘The Gate,’ central male character Sôsuke lives in a house that stands on a hill, Gake no ue.
- Hayao Miyazaki stated at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con that he was inspired to create the film after watching Disney’s animated adaptation The Little Mermaid.
- There are many references to Richard Wagner’s opera series ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’ scattered throughout the film. Ponyo’s real name is Brünnhilde, one of the leading roles of Wagner’s ‘Die Walküre.’ Brünnhilde is also a “supernatural,” being who falls in love with a human (Siegfried), much like Ponyo falls in love with Sôsuke. When Ponyo is chasing after Sôsuke and his mother during the giant storm scene, you can hear a musical tribute to Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.”
- Hayao Miyazaki drew most of the sea and wave imagery himself, experimenting with making it as expressionistic as possible. John Lasseter said that he had never seen water animated so beautifully before.
- The level of detail in the animation resulted in 170,000 separate images – the most that have ever appeared in a Hayao Miyazaki film.
- The seaside village where the story takes place is inspired by the town of Tomonoura in Setonaikai National Park in Japan where Hayao Miyazaki stayed in 2005.
- Until The Secret World of Arrietty, this received the widest release for a Studio Ghibli film in the US when it opened in 927 theaters. Spirited Away opened in 26 theaters, Howl’s Moving Castle 36 and Princess Mononoke 38.
- Melissa Mathison wrote the English language script in just four days but also worked with the actors during the voiceover sessions to further refine the translations.
- Hayao Miyazaki was very surprised by the lukewarm reaction of children to his film in test screenings.
- In 2009, the film’s US gross ($15 million) set a record for a Disney/Ghibli production. Only five other anime films have grossed more in the US: three of them being Pokémon films, the fourth Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Movie, and the fifth The Secret World of Arrietty (another Disney/Ghibli production).
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