Review: Ponyo Blu-ray

Ponyo Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Disney | DIRECTOR: Hayao Miyazaki | VOICE CAST: Tina Fey, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Noah Lindsey Cyrus, Frankie Jonas
RELEASE DATE: 3/2/2010 | PRICE: DVD $29.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $39.99
BONUSES: featurettes, storyboard-to-film comparison
SPECS: G | 101 min. | Family | 1:85:1 | DTS-HD audio | English, Spanish and French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

The latest Hayao Miyazaki film from Studio Ghibli is as sweet and wonderful as the others, and Blu-ray does a beautiful job of showcasing the animation. From Ponyo’s red hair to the colorful beads of Ponyo’s magical undersea mother, every detail is bright. The audio is clear too, with the sounds of crashing waves booming out of the speakers.

Ponyo movie sceneInspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, Ponyo tells the story of a little fish who wants desperately to become a human when she meets a little boy. This English-language version of the Japanese animation features well-known voices, including Cate Blanchett (Robin Hood), Tina Fey (Megamind), Matt Damon (Green Zone), Liam Neeson (Unknown), Cloris Leachman (TV’s Raising Hope), Betty White (TV’s Hot in Cleveland) and Lily Tomlin (TV’s Damages). The kids, Ponyo and her friend Sosuke, are played by younger siblings of well-known stars: Noah Lindsey Cyrus (Miley’s sister) and Frankie Jonas (another Jonas brother).

In one of the many featurettes on the disc, Miyazaki says Ponyo is a film for 5-year-olds, but the Blu-ray extras are most definitely for adults. The “Behind the Studio” section offers a bunch of featurettes, but they’re mostly in Japanese with subtitles. They are interesting nontheless for adult fans of Miyazaki’s work, but this is why I gave the overal package four dishes instead of five. The only English-language featurettes are an intro and a featurette about the voice cast, in which a very grownup Frankie informs us that Ponyo has a different “vibe” than Miyazaki’s other work, and he likes that.

Also on the Blu-ray is a section called “The World of Ghibli,” of which just the menu provides lots of entertainment. Users can click on the different areas of an island filled with Ghibli’s characters to learn more about each film. It’s promotional, yes, but it’s also a fun introduction to Miyazaki’s work for viewers who have only seen Ponyo.

Animation fans also will get a kick out of being able to watch the movie side by side with the original storyboards, another Blu-ray feature.


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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.