“In effect, Ponyo bears witness to the intensification of Miyazaki’s vision in his late works by undermining the very concept of ‘a,’ let alone ‘the’ real world. It suggests that there is no such thing as an unquestionable, given, reality. The world we wake up in is just the space we happen to occupy at that particular time, and to which we must adjust in order to be. Neither its continuity not its truth are beyond doubt, ant its endurance from one day to the next cannot, therefore, be taken for granted. All we can ever presume to know, in such a scenario, is that we are alive here and now, and that it is up to us (and us alone) to devise strategies for coping with whatever may com out way. Its take on reality confirms that even though Ponyo is intended to appeal to kids on many levels, this does not make it a simplistic effort. On the contrary, its undertones are often profound, and the reflections it invites are correspondingly complex. In this regard, the film reflects the irony intrinsic in childhood itself as a state which can only be described as ‘simple’ by simplistic adults, and is actually home to complexities of kaleidoscopic diversity.”

Dani Cavallaro1


“To watch the image of a young girl burbling with laughter as she runs atop cresting waves in Ponyo is to be reminded of how infrequently the movies seem to express joy now, how rarely they sweep us up in ecstatic reverie. It’s a giddy, touchingly resonant image of freedom – the animated girl is as liberated from shoes as from the laws of nature – one that the director Hayao Miyazaki lingers on only as long as it takes your eyes and mind to hold it close, love it deeply and immediately regret its impermanence. [...]

Like the other characters, with their clean lines and bright splashes of color, Ponyo tends to pop slightly on the screen. Although Mr. Miyazaki eschews the deep space of 3-D animation (over his dead body, as he recently suggested), he is acutely sensitive to texture, an awareness that translates into different visual designs for individual scenes and which intensifies the emotional register of those same scenes. The softly smudged field of grass that surrounds Sosuke’s house like a blanket is striking partly because you can see the touch of the human hand in each blade. The blurred pastel quality of the grass, the softness of this green mantle, convey a feeling of comfort that in turn summons up words like warmth, home, love.”

Manohla Dargis2

  • 1Dani Cavallaro, “The Late Works of Hayao Miyazaki,” (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2013).
  • 2Manhola Dargis, “Forces of Nature, Including Children,” New York Times, 2009.
UPDATED ON 07.03.2019