Hayao Miyazaki's animated features make scads of money worldwide, but never set American turnstiles whirling. Maybe that's about to change.
... Kennedy-Marshall set about bringing both A-list acting and writing talent to the English-language version of "Ponyo," including Oscar-nominated "E.T." screenwriter Melissa Mathison. "We felt a responsibility to subtly reinterpret Miyazaki's storytelling," Kennedy recalls. "Miyazaki-san was quite intrigued with Melissa getting involved, and she found a subtle adjustment to the language so that you understand you're watching a Japanese movie but, at the same time, you're not getting confused by a literal translation."
No cuts were made to Miyazaki's animation, so the challenge in directing the voice actors was to make their English dialogue fit the existing picture. "It's different than the way we usually work, where we animate after recording the voices," explains Brad Lewis, who, like fellow Pixar directors Lasseter and Peter Sohn, helmed individual recording sessions for "Ponyo." "With this, the actors watched the animation, and then we'd record several versions and see what worked. The only liberties we could take were a few words of pre-lapping dialogue." ...
The eighteen-year-old Hulett has always been keen on Japanese animation. Since he's dead-center in the target demographic, I've always been a little mystified why Japanese features haven't performed more robustly in the States, instead of being just a niche sideshow.
I mean, live-action and animated features from the U.S. perform like gangbusters in Japan. For some reason (maybe cultural, maybe promotional) the reverse has never been true.