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PONYO

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KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
Recommended age 5-18
90 minutes
DVD
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Studio Ghibli's deluxe Ponyo DVD Set is an extraordinary sight to behold. This vastly entertaining Miyazaki creation enchants you with its spellbinding animation style. Ponyo was released in 2008 in Japan (2009 in US) and garnered several awards including the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year. The English language version includes such voice over talent as Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin and Betty White.

Ponyo tells the story of a five-year-old boy, Sosuke, who finds and becomes friends with a puzzling goldfish that he names Ponyo. Later on, he discovers that Ponyo is actually a goldfish princess who desires to become a human. Throughout their journey they overcome her father's displeasure of humans. Ponyo becomes so transfixed and loving towards Sosuke that he must undergo a few challenges set forth by her parents to see if he is worthy of her affection.

The DVD set includes two discs, a Blu-Ray and a traditional DVD. It includes over five hours of riveting bonus features, such as Feature Length Storyboards; Behind the Microphone; The Five Geniuses Who Created Ponyo; Interviews with Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki (Producer); Theme Song Press Conference and Theme Song Music Video; Opening Event at Hibiya Scala-Za Theatre; Hayao Miyazaki Press Conference; Creating Ponyo; Ponyo and Fujimoto; The Nursery; Scoring Miyazaki; Producers Perspective: Telling the Story; The Locations of Ponyo; Original Theatrical Trailers; TV Spots; and even an exclusive booklet with statements from the director.

In the Creating Ponyo special, Miyazaki tells us that Ponyo was made for a younger audience, such as five-year-olds, because he wanted to make a movie that was easier than My Neighbor Totoro for young children to understand. Miyazaki believes that five-year-olds are more perceptive than they are able to describe. He later states that Ponyo represents someone who has been released from the constraints of society. By watching this special, we learn how much respect Miyazaki has for children.

The Producer's Perspective is an interview with the producer, Toshio Suzuki. In this special we learn all the steps that go into making a Studio Ghibli film. First Miyazaki and Suzuki review Miyazaki's image boards and decide which is the best. The storyboards are then sent to the animators. He later states that their method hasn't changed over the past 30 years. He finishes by saying that well developed characters are the foundation of any Miyazaki film.

In The Nursery special, Toshio Suzuki states that it was Miyazaki's dream to establish a Studio Ghibli nursery for the employees' children and, during this production, it became a reality. Suzuki goes on by saying that the storyline changed halfway through production from being totally set at the nursery to also taking place at an old folks home and the house on the hill.

This highly rich Ponyo DVD extravaganza is a must have for any Studio Ghibli fan. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18.

Reviewed by Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

see youth comments
From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro,, and Academy Award�-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, comes a heartwarming adventure, now featuring hours of new bonus features never-before-released in North America. When Sosuke, a young boy who lives on a clifftop overlooking the sea, rescues a stranded goldfish named Ponyo, he discovers more than he bargained for. Ponyo is a curious energetic young creature who yearns to be human, but even as she causes chaos around the house, he father, a powerful sorcerer, schemes to return Ponyo to the sea.
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