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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Ponyo aka Gake no ue no Ponyo [Blu-ray]


(Hayao Miyazaki, 2008)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Studio Ghibli

Video: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:42:54.951

Disc Size: 44,292,092,116 bytes

Feature Size: 22,950,408,192 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.56 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 2nd, 2010



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2260 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2260 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital EX Audio Japanese 640 kbps 5.1-EX / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB



English (SDH), English, French, Spanish, none



• (Disc introduction) Meet Ponyo (3:20)

The World of Ghibli- Allows fans to immerse themselves in the amazing worlds from each film created by legendary filmmaker, Hayao Miyazaki in this multi-layered interactive experience.

Lands to explore include:
Ponyo's Land
Kiki's Land
Castle's Land
Totoro's Land
Behind the Studio- Unprecedented access to all the background, inspiration and process behind the making of Ponyo and the inner workings of Studio Ghibli through a series of documentaries. They include all new interviews with Hayao Miyazaki, and composer Joe Hisaishi.

• A Conversation with John Lasseter and Hayao Miyazaki (3:33)
Creating Ponyo (3:58)
Ponyo & Fujimoto (2:59)
The Nursery (2:00)
Behind the Microphone: The Voice of Ponyo (6:04)

The Locations of Ponyo (9:35)
Producers Perspective: Telling the Story (2:28)
Scoring Miyazaki (7:19)
Original Japanese Trailer

Previews (Totoro, Kiki, Castle)

Second disc DVD

BD-Live capable





Description: Acclaimed anime master Hayao Miyazaki returns for his ninth animated feature with Ponyo, which deals with a friendship between a five-year-old boy and a goldfish princess who yearns to be human. The daughter of the king of the ocean, Ponyo is no ordinary goldfish -- she has all the magic of the sea at her disposal. But when five-year-old Sosuke befriends the spunky little fish near the seaside home he shares with his mother and father, a special connection sparks between the two children, and Ponyo becomes determined to become human. Transforming into a little girl, Ponyo shows up at Sosuke's doorstep, delighted to make herself at home with her new land-dwelling family. But having a magical fish princess walking around on dry land begins setting the mystical balance of the world off kilter, and even though the innocent love Ponyo feels for her dear friend is strong, it will take some help from the greatest powers in the ocean to make things right again.



The Film:

Hayao Miyazaki has an unmistakable vision when it comes to making movies. Unlike anything else in the realm of animated film -- including the fantastically innovative examples from Pixar -- his films are crazy, visceral, epic fairy tales about the burden of growing up and taking responsibility for your world. Some of his more complex works tackle even bigger themes, about humanity's ambivalence between beauty and destruction (especially in works like Princess Mononoke and Nausica of the Valley of the Wind). But Miyazaki has also shown an aptitude for telling a different kind of story: tales that manifest in sweet, delightful, nearly conflict-free fables centering on small children, and usually cinematically narrated with the purity of a child's perception. He's hinted at this in many of his past efforts, but he hasn't constructed an entire movie this way since 1988's My Neighbor Totoro. That is, until 2009's Ponyo. A new, very different take on the premise of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, Ponyo is about a precocious little fish named Brunnhilde, whose father just happens to be the flamboyant and sinewy king of the sea. Determined to reach the surface and explore new places, the aquatic princess makes a break for it, and happens to meet a five-year-old boy named Sosuke, who lives in a house overlooking the ocean in a tiny fishing village with his mother, Lisa, and his father, a fisherman who is often away. After rescuing his tiny friend from being stuck inside a discarded glass jar, Sosuke makes a strange, instant connection with the little goldfish, whom he names Ponyo.

Ponyo's oddly human face soon shows that she loves her new best friend as well, but of course, her father cannot allow a magical princess fish to straddle the worlds of sea and land -- it upsets the mystical balance of the world, and begins to interfere with the tides and the moon. But the innocent love between Ponyo and Sosuke is too profound to restrain her, and she wills herself to transform into human form, first springing funny little feet that make her look like a chicken, and soon changing all the way into an adorable five-year-old girl, with hair the same red color that her iridescent scales used to be. A splendid, gentle adventure follows, as Ponyo's mother, a huge, ethereal sea goddess, weighs in on the issue to state that if the pure love of the two children is as strong as it seems, then Ponyo can be permanently granted a human form, thus restoring the earth's balance. The adorable children thenceforth engage in extremely brave, always cute antics, as they face the floods wrought by the sea storm that brought Ponyo to land in the first place. All along the way in this delightful fable, Miyazaki shows his incredible aptitude for understanding how children talk, move, and most importantly, think. That he's able to so deftly narrate in child-mind is so touching, it would almost be poignant -- if it weren't so resiliently uplifting and sweet. The movie also shows the usual Miyazaki brand of worldly divination. Everything in the story's environment shows the magical spark of life; even the ocean's waves are capable of opening a squinty eye to reveal their intent. For American audiences -- even those that aren't familiar with Miyazaki's style -- it's a movie with all the heart of Pixar's best and a giant dose of its own unique, rapturous charm, making it timeless enough for children and grown-ups alike.

Excerpt from Cammila Albertson, All Movie Guide located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Firstly, I should state that I required a firmware update to both my Oppo BDP-83 and my Momitsu BDP-899 players to be able to play this new Disney Blu-ray release.


Digital animation is can be essentially flawless - at the Blu-ray level (1080P) it has none of the common deficiencies that we can find when transferring live-action film to high-definition digital - things like edge-enhancement or noise removal manipulation. Surprisingly in Ponyo though we have no haze and blurriness produced as intentional effects to create the perception of motion. It is beautifully smooth throughout. By rendering digital animation to Blu-ray they have obtained the highest accuracy of the original. Ponyo looks pristine in this new format. The animation style shows incredible versatility looking brilliant with a number of different visual looks. From under the sea, to outdoors, darkness and storms - it all looks to have totally accurate intent from the theatrical presentation. Colors can be impressively vibrant or selectively foreboding - dependant on the mood. Contrast is pinpoint accurate. There isn't a pixel out of place here. 




Blu-ray TOP - included DVD BOTTOM















Audio :

This may be where the purists have a grudge. While the English DUB, with excellent voice characterizations from the likes of Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Cloris Leachman, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin, Betty White etc., at a resounding DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 2260 kbps sounds quite incredible - there is no HD option for the original Japanese track. However, I'd like to extol the Japanese 5.1-EX at 640 kbps for a moment. It sounds extremely impressive. Separations may not be as bombastic, and depth and range a notch below the DUB, it still had my head turning on multiple occasions. Iconic Joe Hisaishi's score is, once again, brilliant and sounds crisp and tight on both tested tracks although occasional bass comes more potently in the lossless track. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


While we have always been in favor of original audio (and necessary subtitles), I'll admit to thoroughly enjoying the film in the strong DUB. Although voice inflection can be an integral part of the intended presentation - this is unlike live action because the entire vocal representation is essentially a DUB (animated characters can't actually talk). Predictably, I found no disparity in the sync (as if that was ever an issue) and we are now endorsing the English track on this occasion. Purists have the option of the strong 5.1-EX Japanese track or there is an Asian Region FREE Blu-ray available HERE (with English subtitles but different extras) that I believe has a lossy original track.



Extras :

Supplements include initially offering a 3-minute disc introduction for the film entitled Meet Ponyo and you may also view the feature presentation with the original Japanese storyboards appearing as a small box in the upper right hand corner. The World of Ghibli is interactive described as 'allowing fans to immerse themselves in the amazing worlds from each film created by legendary filmmaker, Hayao Miyazaki in this multi-layered interactive experience'. This is good for those both familiar with, or uninitiated into his other films - exploring - Ponyo's Land, Kiki's Land, Castle's Land, and Totoro's Land. You float the menu cursor to the area, on a map, that you want to adventure to - so it's easy fro children to utilize as well. Behind the Studio- allows access to all the background, inspiration and process behind the making of Ponyo and the inner workings of Studio Ghibli through a series of documentaries. They include all new interviews with Hayao Miyazaki, and composer Joe Hisaishi. We are given a short conversation with John Lasseter and Hayao Miyazaki and many featurettes on production details, including voices, as well as the original theatrical trailers and Previews (Totoro, Kiki, Castle). There is a second DVD disc included with only the feature and the 'introduction' as an extra. The Blu-ray is BD-Live capable (untested).



Miyazaki films are as addictive for adults as they are hypnotic for kids. This is another masterpiece to own and revisit for years. The Blu-ray is the ultimate way to see it in your home theater. Immerse yourself in a world of fantasy, adventure and childhood innocence. Ponyo is an essential Blu-ray release that has our highest recommendation!  

Gary Tooze

February 13th, 2010





About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze








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