June 28, 2009

The Disneyification of Ponyo

Hayao Miyazaki's latest, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, will be released in the US this August through the distribution of Walt Disney Pictures.

Compared to the Japanese poster (above), the English-language poster is awfully similar to Disney's Finding Nemo poster. It's an easy way to grab moviegoers' interest, especially people who are not familiar with Miyazaki's films.

But aligning a Hayao Miyazaki film with a Disney film feels almost disingenuous. Fantastical, morally ambiguous, and unafraid of mining despair, his popularity in America has partly to do with the departure his films present from the straightforward narratives and black-and-white morality of American kiddie animation. So why risk pitting Ghibli and Disney together? There's plenty of room in the movie world for both studios to represent their worldviews.

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