Hayao Miyazaki Returns with His Latest Hand-Crafted Tale

Computer animation may have taken control of the big-screen cartoon world, yet two of the world's animation masters remain committed to the hand-drawn form.

Japan's Hayao Miyazaki — whose 2002 fantasy "Spirited Away" won the Academy Award for feature animation over computer-generated front-runner "Ice Age" — has returned with his latest hand-crafted tale, "Ponyo."

Miyazaki , whose films include "Princess Mononoke,""Howl's Moving Castle" and "My Neighbor Totoro," has used computer animation to embellish hand-drawn images. But before "Ponyo" went into production, he shut down the computer-graphics department at his Studio Ghibli, opting to work solely in hand-drawn images, San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Meanwhile, Miyazaki's hopes for a breakthrough in the biggest movie market in the world now rest with Ponyo, the tale of a playful goldfish who longs to be a little girl, released by Disney in the US today.

Positive reviews of his previous work have failed to prompt more than a lukewarm response from moviegoers in North America. In 2003, the year his Spirited Away won an Oscar for best animated film, box office sales in the US and Canada reached a modest $10m, compared with $356m in the rest of the world. The pattern was repeated two years later with Howl's Moving Castle, which made $4.7m in North America but $230m elsewhere , guardian.co.uk reports.

However, so much for sugar and spice and everything nice: "Ponyo's" rambunctious, red-headed heroine is anything but your classic fairy tale heroine.

In this flick from Hayao Miyazaki, Japan's master anime director, a petulant goldfish abandons her magical underwater realm to become a five-year-old human girl , CTV.ca reports.

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