I was unbelievably frustrated, but my frustration was eased when I had a look on Sky Japan Shop. (I rarely let myself go on Sky Japan Shop's site, because they have so many anime dvds that I want, there is a serious danger I would spend all of my money.) They were selling a
Japanese dvd of 'Ponyo...' for £10.50, with free shipping. I pounced on it. With it coming out in the cinemas in February next year, I figured it'll probably be until about August before it gets to dvd. Not only could I see it 4 months early, but I could own it 10 months early! I simply couldn't resist.
A couple of days later, I got an e-mail from them telling me they've withdrawn it from sale due to complaints about the quality of the dvd. I assumed this was due to subtitling issues, I have a couple of anime dvds from Japan that have not been given the best quality of interpretation, and the subtitles can be pretty tricky to follow at times. They offered me a refund, or the value off another item. I thought, fair enough, I'll have a look later and see what I want. Then proceeded to completely forget all about it.
Last week I got another e-mail from Sky Japan Shop, telling me that my copy of 'Ponyo...' had shipped.
I was very excited.
Saturday morning, I got a little parcel in the post. I opened it. It was my copy of 'Ponyo...'.
I was INCREDIBLY excited.
Today I actually got the chance to sit down and watch it.
Okay, it's pretty obvious why there were complaints about the quality. It's very obviously a pirate copy. You can hear a couple of children's voices right at the start, and the sound is clearly being recorded thru a microphone. Having said that tho, once you get a couple of minutes into it, the sound really isn't a problem, it's actually fairly decent quality, and yes the tracking shots are a bit jumpy and sometimes the movement of characters on screen are too, but the translated subtitles are good and overall it is definitely watchable, right up until the moment at 78 minutes when someone gets up to go to the toilet. Then again at 85 minutes when they come back. Seeing a massive and shadowy figure moving across the screen and interrupting what you're watching is a very surreal experience, especially with an animation. It's just one step too far, and sadly I will have to return the dvd to Sky Japan Shop.
I say sadly, and I really do mean sadly, because 'Ponyo...' is an ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL film.
It's basic story is the same as that of 'The Little Mermaid'. A female mermaid wants to become a human, spurred on by loved for a human male.
The details are different tho. For a start both Ponyo and Sosuke (the boy she falls for) are 5 years old. In this way, Hayao Miyazaki tells us a very innocent story, with all his little trademark fantastical quirks and methods that I just love him so much for.
Very simply put, the story goes: Sosuke finds a little fish with a human head while playing by the sea and decides to keep it. He calls it Ponyo. He carries it around everywhere with him in a bucket, including back to the seafront where they become seperated. Ponyo tries to find Sosuke again, and brings with her a Tsunami...
It's a very endearingly childish, simple and engaging film. I really don't want to give too much away here, and I've described the story as simply as I can so as not to ruin any of the details of the film, because I would recommend every single one of you to go and see it when it comes out. It is just utterly, utterly wonderful and it PAINS me to have to return it.
The only reason I can think of that would justify the UK distributor pushing the release date back to February next year, is to stop it from clashing with 'Up', and they're trying to make sure people won't not go to see 'Ponyo' because of that. If I start going down that road tho, I'll start getting annoyed at how 'Up' was also released virtually everywhere else in the world before we got it. Grrrrrrr. Luckily only about half of the world is getting 'Where The Wild Things Are' before we get to see it. I'm counting that as a victory.
One more thing, when 'Ponyo...' does finally come out over here, if you possibly can, go and see it in Japanese with English subs. I've seen the trailer for the English language dubbed cut, and not only does the dialogue come across as pretty bad, but it also sounds like a new musical score has been written and recorded, and it sounds awful.