Tina Fey, Cate Blanchett and Lily Tomlin give their voices to “Ponyo”


The trailer for renowned Japanese artist Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo hit theaters this weekend, and it’s as surreal (and Disney-fied) as American anime fans hoped (and feared) it would be.

Ponyo (originally Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) tells the tale of young fish/mermaid whose longing to live on land leads her into an unlikely friendship with a five-year-old human, Sōsuke . The film was released in Japan last year to critical acclaim, prompting at least one advertising agency to say it was Japan’s best export in 2008, behind the Nintendo Wii.

Hayao Miyazaki is a god among Japanese animators. His 2001 film, Spirited Away, was the first anime movie to win an Academy Award, which is almost as impressive as the fact that it beat out Titanic for the highest grossing film in Japanese history. So it’s no surprise that he had his choice of actors for the American retelling of Ponyo.

Sōsuke’s mother is voiced by Tina Fey.

Cate Blanchett voices Ponyo’s mom.

The other female voice talent comes from Cloris Leachman, Lily Tomlin and Betty White.

In fact, Disney’s selling point seems to be the voice talent. Sōsuke and Ponyo are voiced by the youngest Jonas Brother and Noah Cyrus. (You know, as in Cyrus.)

Anime purists have been biting their nails over the potential Disney-fication of Ponyo. Early on, Hayao Miyazaki said that Disney would have to tweak the movie for American audiences. The names were changed, and some of the scenes reworked for English dubbing. Also, there’s the poster, which bears a slight resemblance to another little orange fish who lived in the big blue ocean.

Overall, though, Disney seems to be trying to strike a balance between the hard-core anime fandom, and the parents who will buy tickets for their kids in the off-chance that the name “Cyrus” means Hannah Montanna will be making a guest appearance in the film.

Check out the trailer for Ponyo, and let us know what you think.

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