Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea Original Soundtrack – Annotated Review

ponyo on the cliff

Album Title: Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea Original Soundtrack
Anime Title: Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea
Artist: Joe Hisaishi; Masako Hayashi; Fujimaki Fujioka; Nozomi Ohashi
Catalog Number: TKCA-73340
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: July 16, 2008

Track Title Artist Time
1. Shinkai Bokujyou Joe Hisaishi 4:18
2. Mother Sea Joe Hisaishi; Masako Hayashi 2:20
3. Deai Joe Hisaishi 0:31
4. Ura no Machi Joe Hisaishi 2:34
5. Kumiko-chan Joe Hisaishi 2:05
6. Ponyo to Sousuke Joe Hisaishi 2:16
7. Karappo No Baketsu Joe Hisaishi 1:28
8. Hakkou Shingou Joe Hisaishi 2:36
9. Ningen ni Naru! Joe Hisaishi 1:29
10. Fujimoto Joe Hisaishi 1:34
11. Imouto-tachi Joe Hisaishi 1:31
12. Ponyo no Hikou Joe Hisaishi 1:41
13. Arashi No Himawari no Le Joe Hisaishi 2:20
14. Nami no Sakana no Ponyo Joe Hisaishi 3:35
15. Ponyo to Sousuke II Joe Hisaishi 2:00
16. Risa no Ie Joe Hisaishi 3:20
17. Atarasii Kazoku Joe Hisaishi 1:08
18. Ponyo no Komori-Uta Joe Hisaishi 1:29
19. Risa no Ketsui Joe Hisaishi 1:33
20. Gran Mammare Joe Hisaishi 2:14
21. Nagareboshi no Yoru Joe Hisaishi 2:39
22. Ponpon-sen Joe Hisaishi 1:53
23. Dipnorhynchus no Umie Joe Hisaishi 1:40
24. Senndann Marchi Joe Hisaishi 2:26
25. Aka-chan to Ponyo Joe Hisaishi 0:33
26. Senndann Marchi II Joe Hisaishi 1:12
27. Sousuke no Koukai Joe Hisaishi 2:07
28. Sousuke no Namida Joe Hisaishi 0:59
29. Suicyuu no Machi Joe Hisaishi 2:00
30. Haha no Ai Joe Hisaishi 0:48
31. Tunnel Joe Hisaishi 1:26
32. Toki-san Joe Hisaishi 0:37
33. Imoutotachi no Katsuyaku Joe Hisaishi 1:38
34. Haha to Umi no Sanka Joe Hisaishi 2:13
35. The Finale Joe Hisaishi 0:44
36. Ponyo on a Cliff (Cinema ver.) Joe Hisaishi; Fujimaki Fujioka; Nozomi Ohashi 1:36

Review: One of my earlier submissions to the Eminence website had been the soundtrack to Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea only that back then, I had written it without having had the benefit of watching the movie. With the context of the film now in my mind, I can say that my opinion doesn’t really change all too much; Joe Hisaishi’s work does inspire wonder along with a healthy dose of charm to help bring the movie to life.

One of the tracks that I highlighted was “Shinkai Bokujyou,” which plays right in the beginning of the movie. As you listen to this excerpt, close your eyes and try to imagine that you’re in an underwater environment, enveloped by hundreds of jellyfish floating along gracefully in formation as the light reflects upon their near-transparent bodies. What results is a dazzling display that absolutely takes your breath away and it could not have been done without the music to back it up. This seamless composition of Hayao Miyazaki’s art and Hisaishi’s music is what makes this scene stunningly beautiful and by the time this scene concludes, you know you’ll be in for quite a treat.

Shinkai Bokujyou
[audio:01 Ponyo.mp3]

After the introduction subsides, our titular heroine escapes the confines of her underwater home by sneaking out without her father noticing and in doing so, starts her grand adventure as she ventures into the surface world that offers a great deal of sights and sounds that she has not yet experienced. “Ura no Machi’s” introduction (excerpted here) does an excellent job of conveying Ponyo’s eagerness to embark upon this journey filled with action and excitement. The tempo here also carries with it some degree of impatience and the subsequent scenes in which her father confronts her demonstrates just how much she wants to explore this new environment through the dialogue between the two.

Ura no Machi
[audio:04 Ponyo.mp3]

One of the more important themes is that of love and family and I think that feeling carries itself excellently in both “Risa no Ie” and “Haha no Ai.” The melody is warm and comforting which fits in with the image most people have of home. Of course, while home is a wonderful place to be, it’s also a testament to the amount of effort that Sousuke’s mother Risa puts in to make sure that the home is running along smoothly on top of ensuring that the senior citizens living at the town’s senior center are well-cared for. Although Risa can get a bit frustrated at her husband’s absence at times, she definitely shows that she has a good heart and no matter what happens, she has the strength to make the best of things to deliver a loving experience unto Sousuke. “Haha no Ai’s” uplifting chorus part illustrates that latter point well and the warmth that it exhibits makes one feel welcome in her arms.

Risa no Ie
[audio:16 Ponyo.mp3]

Haha no Ai
[audio:30 Ponyo.mp3]

And, of course, the movie ends with a delightful song with a childish air to it; quite a change from Spirited Away’s “Itsu mo Nando demo” or Princess Mononoke’s theme song, both of which were operatic in their execution. I don’t think such an ending would have been quite as fitting for Ponyo since the story’s overall feel is closer to that of a fairy tale, making “Ponyo on a Cliff (Cinema ver.)’s” childish, whimsical nature much more appropriate of a selection. For that matter, it’s a fun way to conclude the movie.

Ponyo on a Cliff (Cinema ver.)
[audio:36 Ponyo.mp3]

So while the issue with the main themes repeating itself throughout the album still stands, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea’s soundtrack is every bit as charming as the movie was. The full review offers more in the way of detail, but if you need the sound clips to back it up (and see how my viewing of the movie changes things), this would be the place for that.

Rating: Very Good


Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

0 thoughts on “Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea Original Soundtrack – Annotated Review

  • August 16, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    Joe Hisaishi creates such magical music, it works so well together with Hayao Miyazaki’s films. I love his song “Summer” from Kikujiro, which I haven’t seen yet.

    I still didn’t get around to watching Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. =/

  • August 17, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    This album (and by extension, the movie) is definitely worth a look. Definitely one of Hisaishi’s better compositions in awhile and the movie itself is pretty charming with a lot of wholesome characters to back it all up.

  • December 16, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Hisaishi has really improved so much in terms of orchestration. I listen to his early Nausicaa and Laputa scores, and I hear a real knack for melody, and with Ponyo he’s really built his skills in terms of orchestration and harmony so much, it’s great to hear.

  • December 17, 2009 at 11:29 am

    And through that, he does a brilliant job of sculpting the atmosphere of the movie quite nicely. While I wasn’t too big on Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo represents a good return to form for him I think.

  • Pingback:Themes of Distance and Separation in Ponyo » Behind The Nihon Review

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