Ponyo! Ponyo!


Movie of the week at Squally Towers is Hayao Miyazaki‘s Ponyo, a surreally gorgeous and gorgeously surreal underwater fantasy about pre-adolescent love and tsunamis. There’s a great interview here with Ghost in the Shell/The Sky Crawlers director Mamoru Oshii, where he thinks the movie may be tied up with Miya-san’s middle age and the renewed interest in women that comes with that middle age in Japan.

“[H]e brings all his feelings and thoughts that would make him a John and puts it all into the world of animation. I’m sure that all of that went into those plants, and those jellyfish, and the marine life. … All of that, whether it’s the jellyfish, the fish, or the 5 year old girls, that’s all an old man’s world. I mean, throughout that whole movie, you only see children and the elderly. There’s the mom and the dad, but other than them… Where are all the other adults?”

Kransom of Welcome Datacomp has transcribed the conversation with Studio Ghibli president Suzuki Toshio from a podcast. Among other things, they discuss anime director Isao Takahata’s influence on Miyazaki and the future of hand-drawing. Suzuki admits that things are changing for Miya-san.

““We wanted to make a movie with no real structure. So what all of this means is that the person giving structure to our movies was Takahata-san. That means that as long as our movies have any structure, Miya-san will never be able to separate himself from Takahata-san. … Normally in Miya-san’s movies, there’s a main character, and you follow that character around and discover all these different things with them. It brings the viewer in to the world. It’s like a mystery movie. But this time, we follow a lot of different characters around, right? When you think that it’s a story about Ponyo, you switch over to Sousuke. When you think you’re following Sousuke around, Fujimoto makes an appearance. A lot of people appear in the movie, but it’s not the kind of movie where you’re brought into the world by learning about things alongside the characters. So normally, in a movie like that, you begin by explaining things to the viewer, like what’s going on, and about the place where things are happening. After that, you go to each separate actor and they do their parts. That’s standard, right? Ponyo doesn’t do that.”

The kids in my audience didn’t seem to have a problem with the film. I’d still be interested in knowing how much tweaking Disney gave it. The American release was supervised by John Lassiter, an animation genius who judging from Cars is having some funny “feelings and thoughts” of his own. (Thanks to Jog the Blog for the heads up about the interview.)

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