Ponyo – A Transformational Love Story


By Perry S. Chen


Fish don’t usually turn into humans, but what if they are magic fish? The new Disney movie “Ponyo,” is a story similar to “The Little Mermaid” with a Japanese twist. Ponyo, is a red fish with a human-like face and magic power. She was named by a 5-year-old Japanese boy Sosuke, who found her stuck in a bottle at the shore right beneath his house in a sea village. He smashed the bottle to free her and put her into a pail. Sosuke’s mom works at a senior center and his dad is a captain out at sea whom he rarely gets to see.

Soon Sosuke lost Ponyo to her father, an evil wizard that lived under the ocean inside a colossal castle. Ponyo accidentally tasted human blood when Sosuke cut his finger. Ponyo had transformed into a little girl because of her love for Sosuke who promised to take care of her. He even gave her ham which became her favorite food! But her transformation had shifted the balance of nature.

Now suddenly, the moon had filled half of the sky! Sosuke’s mom was driving the slippery road home. Waves splashed against the car. It was not just a regular storm. It was a tsunami! A girl in a red dress, the same red color as the fish that Sosuke lost, ran on a giant fish next to the car in the stormy ocean, black as the cloud above. When they got home, Sosuke realized that girl was his fish, Ponyo!

My favorite character is Sosuke because he had responsibility and he was the man of the house. My second favorite character is Ponyo, because she is very curious and fun-loving, even though she has an addiction to ham. I like Ponyo’s mom, the sea Godess, because she is very nurturing and powerful, just like Sosuke’s mom.

The funniest scene was when a superstitious old lady from the senior center thought that a tsunami was happening when Ponyo squirted water on her face. My favorite scene was when Ponyo jumped from fish to fish in the menacing black sea, and the sound of the waves deafening, reaching to pull the girl to her watery grave. I thought that scene was so imaginative. Jumping from fish to fish is actually a pretty ideal way of travel! The stunning visual style and the bright colors captured the mesmerizing scenes of the underwater world.

I noticed that the tunnel that Ponyo was hesitant to enter emitted an eerie, moaning sound that was hollow and ominous at the same time, as if it was trying to take you into its stifling grasp.

I can relate to Ponyo because I once raised some gold fish of my own. Their names were Flash and Jolt. Flash was completely oriental orange. Jolt was pearl white with a hint of light peach when the sun shone on it. I had them from June 2008 to May 2009 when the hazard splashed in. My mom bought a gold fantail that was pure white with splashes of mandarin orange. We could not resist her beauty that was alluring and inviting. However, it did not survive for even one day in the tank with Flash and Jolt.

The next day, Flash and Jolt died too, probably because the rotting flesh of the fantail had polluted the water. Now imagine the dead gold fantail is human pollution, Flash and Jolt representing the ocean life. If humans are dumping too much pollution into the ocean, then the ocean life will die.

Ponyo is directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese animation master, whose “Spirited Away” (my favorite Miyazaki movie) won the 2001 Academy Awards for best animated feature.

I gave “Ponyo” four starfish because I wonder how Ponyo could be put in fresh water from the bucket and survive if she lived in the ocean all her life in salt water.

The movie “Ponyo” is about courage, friendship, willpower, love, and the bond between a boy and a fish. Love is true magic, a magic that makes the impossible possible!

Perry S. Chen is a 9-year-old columnist, movie critic, and radio show host of “Perry Previews the Movies” on


  1. His movie reviews have been published on nine San Diego newspapers. He has been featured on CBS Evening News, Fox, KUSI TV, San Diego Magazine, San Diego News Network, The China Press, World Journal, etc. He is in third grade at the Torrey Hills Elementary School in San Diego. Perry’s reviews are available on his Web site: