Holy @#&$ %&*#@

That freakin' tears it. Now I'm pissed.

I don't know what makes me angrier, the Disney Corporation using its clout to force some asinine computerized fake pop "song" onto Hayao Miyazaki's movie, or the cheerful praise from the comments on the YouTube page. Have all people become mindless cattle?!

Am I wrong to be upset? Should I care? Have we been sold out? Am I over-reacting? My punk rock, '90s grunge instincts tell me one thing, but I'm wise enough to know my limitations.

The funny thing is that I've had the original Ponyo song stuck in my head all day. It's really a wonderful children's song that stays with you forever. But then again, Hayao Miyazaki isn't running some mammoth corporate conglomerate that feeds on our children like vampires.

Feel free to tell me if I'm completely off my rocker on this. What's the consensus among the Ghibli Freaks?


BionicVapourDude said...


How does that keep anywhere near the spirit of the movie?

Epic Fail!

I want an explanation, Lasseter!

Joe Leonard said...

This is pretty embarassing, but, well, trying to look at the big picture:

1. Lasseter has obviously pushing hard for Ponyo to do well in the US. They really want Miyazaki and Ghibli to be more mainstream, and not something for just the anime kids and art scene crowd.

2. They can use this in ads, use it for exposure on the Disney Channel and on Kid Disney radio. I'm guessing from the comment you linked to earlier that this is already in effect.

3. Kids will eat this up and love it to pieces. Kids are dumb.

4. The song will get kids excited for Ponyo, who will then beg their parents to go see it.

5. A horrible bastardization of a silly folksy tune into an in-your-face pop song complete with robot voice auto-tune effect will therefore be the gateway drug for lots of kids and parents to Studio Ghibli. A case of the ends justifying the means to be sure, but, well, what can you do. This is America.

Keep in mind at this point we're not even completely sure if this will be used in the film proper. If it is, it'll probably be contained to just the credits, which while still unfortunate, doesn't matter that much in the long run.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

That's the smartest insight I've read on the subject. Thanks for helping to keep my head attached.

It also helps that there's a large and violent thunderstorm outside my window this evening. After the third lightning strike right outside my window, I find my outrage meter has been properly reset. So many things in life are never worth getting upset over.

You may be right about the kid appeal. I've been struck by the numbers of kids on Youtube and Twitter who want to swarm to the malls to see Ponyo because the celebrity kids are in it. "Gateway Drug" may be the smartest metaphor yet.

Reflecting on this, I think this episode exposes a rift of tension between Disney and the Ghibli Freaks, one that has been there for many years. We must be careful not to view their treatment of Ponyo through the lens of past disappointments. There are several new players involved in this drama, and we must give them the proper chance to succeed.

This is my own advice to myself, and I hope it proves helpful to everyone else if needed.

BAM!! There's the fourth massive lightning strike. BAM!! Number five...now my eyes are temporarily blinded. I can't believe I was ever upset at another human being for anything, ever. Why are people throwing tantrums about health care in town meetings again? Heh heh.

Anonymous said...

Total Disappointment!

JanPan said...

Well, at least they got the lyrics pretty much spot on. (Trying to find something positive to say about this)

Still, they could not have put together a more awful version of the Ponyo theme. What the hell?

Maybe I'm just making stuff up here, but didn't their contract with Ghibli say that they couldn't cut out any music?

Anonymous said...

I think both songs suck, but then, I'm not the target audience.

Bilal Aslam said...

I Agree, IMO all anime should be watched with captions, to preserve what it's meant to be like.

However because of Disney wanting to commercialize, we end up with people trying to do better than japanese voice actors.

Katie Johnson said...

I don't care how many tweens this will introduce to Studio Ghibli, that song is a sin.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Don't worry, we have the perfect antidote to the mindless kids who are being brainwashed into becoming plastic corporatist "tweens."

I say the situation calls for shock theapy. Blast 'em with Grave of the Fireflies. Then administer regular doses of Stanley Kubrick, Public Enemy, and Miles Davis' Bitches Brew.

Anonymous said...

thank goodness i seen this now i wil never show my neice this movie dam you disney and what the hell ghibli do something about it ........please

Doug said...

Wow, this hurts my head!
The first is charming and infectitious, and sort of reminds me of the innocent sounding theme from the earlier Miyazaki works, eg. Conan.

The second is just vomit, regurgitated to sound more like vomit.

stormko said...

See, I actually disagree with Joe Leonard's view. I mean, he might be right about the kids responding to this remake, but I don't think it was necessary.

First, I understand why Disney would dub this movie: beyond the fact that Americans don't like subtitles (which is another topic), it would be too difficult for children to keep up with subtitles while watching the movie, not to mention there will be kids in the crowd who can't read well yet (or at all). So in this case, a dub seem to be a necessary evil. I do, however, think it would have been nice to have a subtitled release, as well. Japan offers both versions when an American film comes out. As much of a melting pot as the U.S. is, Americans still seem to try and live in cultural isolation. But, again, this is a different topic.

Lasseter has been bragging about how the translation and dub for Ponyo is so great and retains the spirit of the original film. Well, why did they, then, decide to abandon that respect of the source material when it comes to the theme song? Why not just re-record the vocals of the original theme and use that? Because they think American kids won't respond to it? How do they know this? Disney, not caring about adult-fan opinion, is attempting to predict what sort of song kids will respond to. In doing so, they are only making this new song to match what they think has already proven to work in the past. The problem with this is that it doesn't allow children to be exposed to a new idea. What if kids loved the original tune? Everywhere I went in Japan, kids were singing the "Ponyo" theme. It's not because you have to be Japanese to appreciate it; it's the melody that they were responding to—a melody that children, not Japanese children, found fun to sing. Whose to say that wouldn't occur in America if the lyrics were just in English? Personally, I think the original would actually have been a bigger hit with American children than this watered-down techno remake. How is it that American children can fall in love with the old tunes of Wizard of Oz, but not be expected to have the same appreciation with something like the Ponyo theme?

I believe Disney was over-thinking this issue. It appears they were too cowardly to risk children being able to appreciate something they have never experienced. They should allow the kids to make up their own mind. Because at some point someone will do this, and the result of that risk will become the new standard. Until then, children are facing a life of zombie-like consumption as they are being fed a constant diet of regurgitated brains.

BionicVapourDude said...

I agree 100% with stormko.

Andy Norton said...

And I thought I had major issues when they dubbed the songs from My Neighbour Totorro, but they're minor complaints in contrast to the monstrosity of that track- what a soulless and trashy way to make a song for an 'English-speaking' audience!

I do hope I'll see it with the original Japanese songs in place, like it should have been all the long.

asuka said...

oh my goodness!
dubbing has its place and dubbing songs so that children can sing them in their own language and incorporate them into their own lives and play is very important: little english-speaking children need to have a singable version of the "totoro" marching song, right!
but what is this... thing? with all its pop-y effects, it isn't properly singable the way the original is.

(and that's apart from other objections)

floatingtanuki said...

What a load of carp! The cretin responsible for the lines - "You can clap your hands, clap your fins, this is where the magic happens" (Rhyming "Fins" with "Happens" is unforgivable) and "1, 2, 3, make a wish, sing along with your favourite fish!" (Ugh!) - should be publicly humiliated at every opportunity for cruelty to children and insulting Studio Ghibli. Can anything be salvaged from this train-wreck of a song? Only if The Dickies do a cover version.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

The original Japanese Ponyo song is catchy, simple fun. It's that simplicity that matches the style of the movie so perfectly. Disney could easily have had the children sing in front of a microphone and all would be fine. The problem is that they very cynically turned it into one of their highly processed, manufactured products, plastic children who are fated to be pushed through the celebrity meat grinder.

Disney's corporate jingle is an atrocity. It's a crime against taste and common sense, and they have their own movies and tv shows to spew this drivel. To shoehorn it into a Studio Ghibli film is abusive, manipulative and dishonest.

This is the real problem with this issue, I think. Disney is playing the role of gate-crashers, and muscling their own product placements into Miyazaki's movie. It's unacceptable on all counts.

Anyway, that's my opinion on the matter. Thanks to everybody for sharing their comments.

Anna said...

I thing that the publicity is great! If we can encourage people that anime is not just for little kids, anime will be more accepted (more familiar is what I'm aiming for) I was reading the lyrics for the American one and I'm not going to be surprised if I walk out early. I'm listening to the Japanese one right now and I cant stop smiling... *Smile* *Smile*

I find that its amazing that everyone is going to the movie. It has the popularity of the first Harry Potter movie. I know some 5th graders going to Ponyo and I know a hardcore gothic girl that is going. Cheerleaders can't stop talking about it.

I must dispute with some of the comments to the murder of the theme. I was in a summer music camp and when you make a excerpt or an artist change on the song, it's for a good reason. What American grade schooler knows simple Japanese? (besides me...I was singing Sailor Moon Theme in Japanese)

I don't care if Angelina Jolee is in the cast. A good movie is exactly that. I'm happy Disney is giving the attention that Miyazaki's grand creations deserve. All the seiyuu (voice actors) in this movie were previewed by Miyazaki and accepted by him.

I support this movie all the way.

Anonymous said...

I think it is ridiculous for Disney to re-record the vocals for this soundtrack!

When I first heard the original music on youtube, I was quite excited, but learning that the music was re-recorded and made into American crap infuriates me...

I'm tempted to just wait for the movie to come out on DVD, then I can watch it the way it was meant to be seen, In Japanese(It would be nice if I didn't have to use subtitles, but I do.).

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

@Anna Great comments! It's great to see you here, and I hope you drag all your friends out to see Ponyo this weekend. Remember! Turnout is crucial. If this weekend is a success, there may be more movie screens for Ponyo. That's my hope, at least.

And remember to drag all your friends to the Ghibli Blog, too!

@Anon Don't worry about the song. It plays during part of the closing credits. You won't want to miss Miyazaki on the big screen just because of this part. Most folks will be shuffling out of their seats, anyway.

Besides, we don't know when the DVD and BD will be released. October 29 is strongly suggested by one source (I've blogged about that), but we don't know for certain. Go see it now.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Having seen the movie, I'd like to state for the record that this issue is a mountain over a moe hill. The Disney "remix" plays over the second half of the closing credits, and yes, it's awful and cheesy, but not the end of the world.

My point is simple: don't let this issue keep you from seeing Ponyo in theaters. GO TO THE MOVIE.

matthew. said...


I understand the need also to translate, and I dont even hate dubs!

But the outcome of that re-recording is horrifying!

Scott said...

It won't stop me from seeing the movie but may just end it on a sour note for me. Wow that is freaking bad.

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