Disney and Miyazaki teamed up to release Ponyo, a story inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale, “The Little Mermaid”. The story follows a young and eager fish named Ponyo on her quest to become human. The following list of American voice actors are pretty impressive with Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon,Tina Fey, Frankie Jonas, Cloris Leachman, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin and Betty White all with parts in the film.
Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most influential and much loved directors working in animation today. He’s one of the few Japanese directors to have achieved general public success for his work.
Ponyo has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and if you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, go to the theater now. Here are a couple clips from the film:During SDCC 09, we were fortunate to sit with Miyazaki to talk about Ponyo, his career and everything else. At the interview was Miyazaki, translator, and
John Lasseter. Enjoy the interview!
Q: In your movies we see alot of movies with concerns for the environment and what not and older characters that are greedy. I was wondering if you believe that people are born with a conservative mindset and learn to be greedy over time?
A: I don’t think we are born with a natural tendency to try to protect the environment. It’s something we learn if we are educated or brought up with manners to protect or care for the environment. At some stage in our lives the greed factor became stronger and now we are faced with horrible environmental situation. I think it’s if you are taught manners toward the environment or not.
Q: We hear so often on the differences between Japanese and American animation. Can you comment on the similarities?
A: The similarity is that actual people are the ones drawing the animations. And they are working with the same kind of feeling every day. Can’t I get better, can I draw better, can’t I draw more quickly those are the kinds of things we are thinking about. [laughs] When I meet animators we can really understand each other right away. Everyone is very honest with how you feel.
Q: Does your inspiration come from your dreams?
A: I try to fish out my own dreams by dangling fishing line into my subconscious but they don’t catch very well. When I get stuck on ideas I realize the surface of my brain that isn’t helpful anymore. I have to go way down into my subconscious. When I have a pipe into my subconscious is when I can release something more interesting that might resolve a dramatic situation or scene in films. But I have to come to real difficulties and really struggle with it for that subconscious to work.
Q for John: When did you first Miyazaki?
A: I went over in my first trip to Japan at a conference called Nikograph. The person taking care of me worked for Studio Ghibli during the movie Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind . He contacted them so I got over to visit. Prior to that, Miyazaki-san came over with a group of Japanese animators to Los Angeles and talked to a lot of animators in Los Angeles and that is when we first met. The first trip was November of 1987. I went to visit the studio and he was in production on My Neighbor Totoro . He appreciated my work and then he showed me around the studio and I’ll never forget the backgrounds were so beautiful. But this one cell of the catbus and I just looked at it. I didn’t need any translation…a bus that is a cat? I have to see this movie. Every chance when I go to Japan I visit him and when he comes over he visits me. I volunteered to help in every way I could with the english versions so Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and now Ponyo as well. I want this country to see his films because once you see him you love him.
Here are pictures from the Disney Animators panel at SDCC (look for other interviews to come soon!):