Thursday, October 18, 2012

Studio Ghibli sends Ponyo back in time... to Kiki's delivery service?

Studio Ghibli movies from My Neighbor Totoro to Howl's Moving Castle occupy a fond place in the memories and hearts of people across the world.

Due to their fairy tale nature and heartwarming (if simple) stories, the appeal of a Studio Ghibli film and its characters is nearly universal - no one likes being lost and alone or missing their parents, and the minds at Ghibli know this.

For these reasons, Ghibli characters rank as some of the most beloved and recognizable in the anime world, and so it's natural for fans to develop a strong attachment to them.

Imagine, then, a fan's excitement when they stumbled upon a conspiracy theory which claimed that Studio Ghibli used characters from earlier movies as templates for the protagonists in later releases.

The characters in questions are Ponyo and Sousuke from Ponyo on the Cliff who, according to a perceptive Japanese fan, bear more than a passing resemblance to the husband and wife bakers from Kiki's Delivery Service.  Case in point...

Pretty exciting, no?  It would be like Disney fans learning that Belle from Beauty and the Beast moved back to Paris with the Prince to open a bookstore or that Fox from The Fox and the Hound grew up to become Robin Hood.

Even more exciting is the fact that it's actually plausible that these two sets of characters could be one in the same. Sousuke and Ponyo are romantically attracted to one another in Ponyo (or, as romantically attracted as two 7-year-olds can be), so the implication here is that they fell in love, grew up, and opened a bakery together.  D'awwwww!

While Ghibli has yet to comment on the similarities, the smile shared between Ponyo and Osono is fairly difficult to explain away.

It very well could be a striking coincidence, or more likely an inside joke from an animator, but the implications that Studio Ghibli would use characters from earlier movies to represent the happy ending promised to characters in movies yet to come is fairly encouraging.