Ponyo (Gake no ue no Ponyo) (Studio Ghibli Collection) (2008)

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Released 29-Dec-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Audio & Animation
Reversible Cover
Storyboards-Alternate Angle
Theatrical Trailer-2
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 98:13 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (48:31) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Hayao Miyazaki

Madman Entertainment
Starring Yuria Nara
Hiroki Doi
Jôji Tokoro
Tomoko Yamaguchi
Yûki Amami
Kazushige Nagashima
Akiko Yano
Shinichi Hatori
Tokie Hidari
Eimi Hiraoka
Rumi Hîragi
Tomoko Naraoka
Nozomi Ohashi
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music Joe Hisaishi

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

Gake no ue no Ponyo or literally Ponyo on the cliff (aka Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea or just Ponyo) is the latest animation masterpiece from renowned Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli animation studio. Personally, I came across Miyazaki’s work quite late only having been introduced via My Neighbour Totoro in the last couple of years.

His animated films are the antithesis of loud, all action children’s films like the recent G-Force relying on beautiful hand-drawn animation, cute characters, fantasy and adventure to excite and enthral their audience.

Ponyo is ‘inspired by’ the classic Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale of The Little Mermaid however takes it in a different direction with more fantastical elements and the beauty of its very artistic animation. The story is quite simple telling the tale of a young boy, Sosuke who lives near the sea with his mother and often absent sea captain father. One morning he finds a goldfish (who he names Ponyo) near his house with its head stuck in a jam jar. He helps her and they soon grow to love one another. She has magical powers as her father is a sorcerer who lives under the ocean and her mother is a sea spirit. She decides that she wants to become a little girl and begins to transform herself accordingly. Her father disapproves of this as he hates humans for their polluting of the sea and tries to stop her. Her transformation causes a large storm and huge waves, resulting in the countryside being flooded for miles around Sosuke’s house. Now they must work out how to return the world to normal.

This is a beautiful film, full of sweetness and magical animation combined with some exciting and possibly scary passages for young children during the storm. The opening couple of minutes are especially beautiful featuring wonderful underwater scenes and great sound design which really takes you into the underwater world. The plotting and character development is not as linear and obvious as western animated films but certainly the audience which I watched it with did not let it bother them. They quickly fell in love with the characters and the beauty of the story.

The film was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and the beautiful score was written by his regular collaborator Joe Hisaishi. The score is by turns poignant, beautiful and exciting adding significantly to the film’s atmosphere.

The film is presented here with either the original Japanese soundtrack or an English dub put together by John Lasseter from Pixar. The English dub features Cate Blanchett as Ponyo’s mother, Matt Damon as Sosuke’s father and Liam Neeson as the sorcerer, Fujimoto. Sosuke is played by Frankie Jonas and Ponyo by Noah Cyrus. Purists will obviously prefer the original Japanese however the English dub is quite good and is obviously easier for the film’s core audience. Having both options is great.

Highly recommended as an antidote to an overdose of G-Force or Alvin & the Chipmunks.


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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is excellent. I believe this is a native PAL transfer rather than an NTSC conversion based on the running time of 98:13. The film ran 103 minutes theatrically.

    The feature is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio which is the original aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced widescreen.

    The picture was very clear and sharp throughout.

    The colour was magnificent showing off the wonderful colours of Miyazaki’s underwater world.

    There were no noticeable artefacts.

    There are optional subtitles available in English. They are yellow and seem to follow the original Japanese dialogue rather than the dub.

    The layer change is at 48:31 and caused a mild pause.


Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio is excellent.

    This DVD contains two audio options, a Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s and an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand in the English version. I don’t understand much Japanese but the dialogue seemed fine on that version too.

    The music consists of a magnificent score by Joe Hisaishi plus some songs which are better on the Japanese version. In English, they sound just a little too cloying, although my 5 year old has been singing Ponyo, Ponyo, Ponyo since watching the film.

    The surround speakers are used constantly for ambient noise especially in the underwater scenes, music, waves, the storm and other effects.

    The subwoofer is adds bass to the music and the waves and storm.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



Only a small selection of extras are included.


    The menu includes an introduction, music and minor animation. Scene selection is available.

Reversible Cover Slick

    You can choose to have the English cover slick or one in Japanese (without rating logo).

Alternative Angle Storyboards (98:13) 

    For animation devotees all the original storyboards for the entire film run-time are available as an alternative angle (a rarely used DVD feature). You can switch between the angles throughout the run time of the film whilst retaining the audio. Very nice extra.

Japanese Trailers (3:10)

    Two quite different Japanese trailers for the film.

Other Studio Ghibli Trailers



R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.


    As normal with Miyazaki films there are many versions available around the globe. A Region 1 release is scheduled for Mar 2 2010. In addition to the features available locally this is advertised to include the following extras on a second disc.

    I cannot find confirmation that this edition will include the Japanese language version but I would guess it probably will.

    Additionally, there are two editions in Region 2 (Japan). There is a 9 disc box set (called the First Press Limited Edition) featuring

    This seems a tad over the top to me. There is also a standard Japanese version which is similar to our local version excepting it does not include the English dub but does have English subtitles and the DTS-ES soundtrack. There are also Region 3 Korean and Hong Kong versions which both feature DTS-ES 6.1 soundtracks and English subs but no dub.

    If you want the English dub, our local version is currently the best available until the Region 1 version is released in March. If you don’t care about having the dub then the many Asian versions are available and it will depend on your budget whether you want to go for the $200 9 disc set or one of the other versions.

    There are no current plan to release a Blu-ray version of this movie locally, however, there are version available around the world should your player be compatible.




A beautiful, sweet and entertaining fantasy adventure animated film from Hayao Miyazaki.

The video quality is excellent

The audio quality is excellent

There is only one real extra which is quite worthwhile.


Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, January 15, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS708H upscaling to 1080p, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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