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‘Ponyo’ next for Miyazaki

Film to be release in summer 2008

Toho will release helmer Hayao Miyazaki’s next toon, “Gake no ue no Ponyo” (Ponyo on a Cliff), in summer 2008. Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli will produce.

Pic is Miyazaki’s first since his 2004 megahit “Howl’s Moving Castle,” which scored $169 million off 15 million admissions in Japan. New toon concerns a goldfish princess named Ponyo who wants to become human and her relationship with a 5-year-old boy.

 Miyazaki, who is penning the original script, is basing the boy on his grandson, the son of “Tales From Earthsea” helmer Goro Miyazaki.

The seaside setting is inspired by the director’s 2005 stay on Japan’s Inland Sea, renowned for its scenic views.   

 Instead of incorporating ever more CG cuts into 2-D animation, as Studio Ghibli has done in recent pics, Miyazaki intends to make “Ponyo” with a pastel watercolor, hand-painted look.

Miyazaki will “go back to his origins and use not any CG,” Studio Ghibli prexy Toshio Suzuki told reporters at Monday’s press conference announcing the toon. “Instead he will use simple, childlike drawings. He intends to make something different from his previous films.”

Miyazaki scored the biggest Japanese B.O. of all time with the toon “Spirited Away” in 2001, recording $258 million. Pic was showered with awards, including an Oscar for animation.

Miyazaki, now 62, has hinted at retiring for years, and “Ponyo” is rumored to be his last project, but no confirmation is forthcoming from Toho and Studio Ghibli, for whom Miyazaki toons have been cash cows for two decades.

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