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A Film With Character
PONYO (voiced by Noah Cyrus) The cute appearance of the little goldfish-girl belies her formidable powers. Inquisitive and self-assured, Ponyo has carefully planned her escape from the Coral Tower where her father Fujimoto lives, but she isn't sure where she'll end up. "She likes to explore and she's a very happy fish,” says Cyrus of her character. When Ponyo meets Sosuke, she quickly learns to love him. She delights in the newness of the human world, which is completely alien to her with such wonders as ham, instant noodles and a flashlight.

Ponyo uses her magical powers calmly and casually; they're nothing special to her. The balance of nature hinges on her decision to venture beyond the limits her father has set for her. Cyrus says "PONYO”—the character and the movie—has something for everyone. "Ponyo loves Sosuke and she is very funny. It's a very funny movie and there's a lot of adventure.”

SOSUKE (voiced by Frankie Jonas) Five-year-old Sosuke is a kind-hearted, well-mannered little boy who's unusually mature for his age. When he finds a little goldfish while playing with his toy boat on the beach below his house, he names her Ponyo.

He treats her with a gentle affection that quickly wins her heart. "Sosuke—what a sweet child!” says Melissa Mathison, who adapted Miyazaki's screenplay for the Englishlanguage version. "I made every attempt to solidify it as Sosuke's story. His bewilderment, his maturity, his humor and his taciturn methods of communicating were quite sweet.” Sosuke is a brave, serious child, although he has a minor mischievous streak: he giggles when Ponyo spits water all over his fussy classmate. The respect and consideration he shows the elderly ladies at the senior center reveal his good heart. Says Jonas: "‘PONYO' is very humorous, and so is Sosuke. There's a lot of adventure and action and some insane parts that are really funny. Kids'll love it. Adults will like it because it's about bringing the family together. Don't be mad at each other, always be together. Always, always love each other.”

LISA (voiced by Tina Fey) Sosuke's mother Lisa is hard-working and affectionate, but perpetually short of time. Working at the senior center and caring for her son leave her tired and impatient with her husband Koichi. Sosuke's father often spends days at sea, leaving all the work at home for her.

"Here is an independent woman, not a single mother, technically, but perhaps a de facto one,” says Brad Lewis, co-director of the English-language version.

"Because of her independent spirit, she feels contemporary. And she was funny in bold ways.” Lisa juggles her obligations ably: when Ponyo appears at her doorstep, she cares for the little girl, serving her warm milk and honey and ramen noodles; she struggles with her home generator, looks after Sosuke and goes to check on the elderly women in the supernatural storm Ponyo inadvertently generates. No wonder she's tired.

FUJIMOTO (voiced by Liam Neeson) The put-upon alchemist Fujimoto commands formidable powers, but he realizes he can't stop his daughter Ponyo from doing what she chooses. His red hair and flamboyant costumes make him look like an older version of Howl, from "Howl's Moving Castle.” An environmentalist at heart, Fujimoto is deeply affected by the trash that has been cast into the sea. He creates magic potions that help keep the sea healthy and dreams of restoring the seas to extraordinary vitality. "My character journeys under water in a strange support craft,” says Neeson. "He and the audience see garbage littering the ocean floors. It packs a very visual message into the animation of some of the horrors we're doing to the oceans of the world.”

KOICHI (voiced by Matt Damon) The captain of a large, sea-going vessel, Koichi often has to break h

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