Ponyo is a young fish-girl who loves to explore, but her father, a great wizard of the sea, fears the chaos her untamed powers could unleash upon the world. He’s right to worry, since she, like every young undomesticated child, is an elemental force of nature who has little respect for the boundaries that grownups take so seriously. She escapes and meets up with a young boy whose imagination at least is a match for her magical powers - and it is love at first sight. Not romantic love but something more innocent and pure - like the youthful love of nature. Ponyo’s desire to be human upsets the delicate balance of nature and triggers a gigantic storm. Only Ponyo’s mother, a beautiful sea goddess, can restore nature s balance and make Ponyo’s dreams come true. Ponyo will delight your family with its magnificent animation and timeless story. - Amazon.com Ages 7 & Up
Year Released
Running Time
103 minutes
Date Released
Studio Ghibli
Average: 4.5 (2 votes)


Please login to review this resource

Ponyo, a classic Hayao Miyazaki fairy tale

Field of Interest/Specialty: East Asian Studies
Posted On: 01/15/2020

Hello My name is Casey Heisel and I teach World Geography to 7th grade students at Holy Guardian Angels Regional School. This movie is rated G, but I feel the content and different themes can be grasped in a meaningful way around 5th grade(10/11 years old). I will be using this resource in the late spring in conjunction with our text, Discovering World Geography Topic on East Asia. While students are watching the video I will have them create a story board of different scenes that represent Japanese culture. After the movie is finished they will write a reflection piece on how they feel this anime represents the things that are appreciated in Japanese culture.

Miyazaki does a fairy tale.

Field of Interest/Specialty: Asian Studies
Posted On: 11/29/2017

Hayao Miyazaki (2008), anime
Set in present day Japan in a seaside village, Ponyo, a delightful romp into the fairytale genre, focuses on humanity’s struggle to keep balanced their relationship with nature. It tells the story of Ponyo (Brunhilde), an adventurous fish princess living in the sea with her father the king (sorcerer) and her many sisters. Her curiosity about the human world drives her to an impromptu visit to the surface where she meets a five year old boy (Sosuke). Ponyo takes an instant liking to the wise beyond his years Sosuke and having all the magic of the sea at her disposal, decides she wants to turn into a little girl. However, in doing so, the mystical balance of the world is thrown off-kilter causing a tsunami and to make things right, help can only come from the greatest power in the ocean (Gran Mamare).
Superficially, Ponyo seems like a simple retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. The stories deviate, however, in plot sequence and themes. The Little Mermaid centers on the trials the mermaid must endure in order to obtain love and her sense of self through a myriad of self-sacrifice. Miyazaki’s Ponyo pivots around love, acceptance, happiness, harmony, and balance with no death or even a villain. Sosuke’s father is more an antagonist reminding the children of the need for balance between the mysterious and the mundance, between a child’s magical world and their world of responsibility.
In terms of the fairy tale genre, Ponyo gives teachers everything they would want in a fairy tale: exotic creatures, fantastical events, enchantment, royalty, and a hero's journey. Considering this genre is considered almost exclusively within the European province of Andersen and Grimm, Ponyo takes on the East Asia culture's flavor from it's motifs, its settings, and its depictions of its characters.