Photos - Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea

A collection of the latest photos from Miyazaki's latest movie, Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea. These come from the official press packets for the French theatrical release, which is opening, hmm....right about now.

There are a lot of things to observe about Ponyo's art style, and we'll have plenty of time to go into greater detail. In many ways, Miyazaki introduced a number of new and novel approaches to this film, when compared not only to past Ghibli productions, but the spheres of anime and animation in general.

For instance, you might notice the coloring on the main characters. Miyazakis has almost entirely eschewed lighting and shadows for Ponyo. Typically, there would be some highlights or shadows on the characters themselves, something that has become a stylized standard in anime. But Ponyo's design goes back to the classic style of Toei Doga, and to a great extent, the '70s trilogy of Heidi, Marco, Anne.

It is also possible that Hayao Miyazaki was influenced in some fashion by son Goro, whose Gedo Senki (Tales From Earthsea) followed this more iconic design. Goro aimed at the look and feel of the old Toei films, especially Horus, Prince of the Sun - which Gedo Senki rather sloppily steals from. Now father has followed the son, and a new art movement is afoot at Studio Ghibli.

Ponyo is a movie that defiantly defends the virtues of classic, 2D, hand-drawn animation. It's the work of an old jazz master who is eager to show the young rock 'n roll kids how it's really done. And in the golden age of cgi, when the computers threaten to overwhelm cinema completely - a future without live actors, perhaps? - Miyazaki demands that the old way of storytelling remains vital. The old way is still better.

With Disney's eminent return to 2D animation (at the helm of John Lasseter), we may be about to witness a revival of the old form. It remains to be seen whether audiences will embrace the old, analog form, or if cgi proves too seductive to resist. But Miyazaki is not about to fade quietly into that good night. He remains as stubbornly defiant today as he was 30 years ago.

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