In the summer of Up’s CGI codgers and G-Force’s lethally armed guinea pigs, the brilliantly hand-drawn spectacle of Hayao Miyazaki’s latest effort, Ponyo, sticks out like a sore traditionalist.
A simple tale about a goldfish girl who falls for a human boy, the movie’s vibrant analog visuals surpass the digital imagery of the aforementioned films and most others aimed at the children’s demographic, revealing just how far CGI can take animation down the rabbit hole if it leaves its artistic heart at home.
Like almost all his films, Miyazaki’s G-rated take on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, which opens Friday, is a fitting distillation of the filmmaker’s ecological awareness. Ponyo’s aqua-magical main family — mermaid Ponyo (voiced by Miley Cyrus’ sister, Noah Lindsey Cyrus), alchemist father Fujimoto (inhabited with gravitas by Liam Neeson) and sea-goddess mother Gran Mamare (the hypnotic Cate Blanchett) — dysfunctionally toes the acclaimed director’s often-disastrous tightrope between humans and the environment, in search of a happy ending.
They eventually get there, but only after Ponyo escapes Fujimoto’s Coral Tower, falls in love with a boy named Sosuke (voiced by, no lie, the “bonus Jonas” brother Frankie) and, in the end, stops an oceanic uprising against humanity with a kiss. MORE @ WIRED