It's long overdue for some news on Ponyo, so here's something nice to keep us happy for a while. This comes courtesy of GhibliWorld, which has always been the go-to place for the latest news from Japan. Look at that! New images!
The voice cast for Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea includes two newcomers in the lead roles, 8-year-olds Doi Hiroki and Nara Yuria. This is in keeping with Ghibli's long tradition, gleamed from the Italian Neo-Realists, of casting non-actors in key roles. This always adds a sheen of authenticity to the movies, especially for child actors. A quick glance at the Disney Channel (which is just about all you can stand before your brain hurts) shows you just how cheesy and hoary child over-acting can become.
The first cast member announced for the production is the jazz/pop singer Yano Akiko. She's a particular favorite of mine, and likely yours as well. What's that? Not familiar with the name? Yano Akiko created the music for Takahata's My Neighbors the Yamadas. Ahh! Now you recall! Her bouncy songs are one of the great joys of Yamadas.
The release date for Ponyo is closing fast, and by the end of next month Japanese audiences will be lined around the block once again for Miyazaki. But what about the US release? When will that be? Toshio Suzuki paid a visit to the States last month for discussions about the Disney/Pixar version. Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy were selected as the producers. No word yet on cast or release date, but I would seriously expect next summer.
Will Disney actually bother to show Ponyo on more than 200 screens this time? Who knows? Best to round up everyone to see Wall-E enough times for Pixar to earn more clout among the stiffs. No doubt if Lasseter and crew had their way, every Ghibli movie would be playing on every multiplex in North America.
Finally, Studio Ghibli has released a short synopsis of Ponyo's plot. Thankfully, very little is revealed (the first movie trailer was also deliberately mysterious), but the second trailer set for mid-July will provide more details. Enjoy:
"One day, Ponyo gets on jellyfish and runs away from home. Ponyo meets Sosuke, and they become good friends. But, Ponyo is taken back in the sea by her father who was a human being once but became a resident of the sea. But, Ponyo who wishes to meet Sosuke again causes a storm using the magic of father and goes to meet Sosuke with a massive tsunami..."