The Studio Ghibli Character Everyone Forgets Betty White Played

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Established in 1985, Studio Ghibli is one of the most famous animation companies in the world — specifically in regards to anime –, having released several classic features beginning with 1986’s “Castle in the Sky.” By 2008, the studio was still going strong and went full steam ahead with “Ponyo”: a story about the titular goldfish who wants to become human upon befriending a boy named Sōsuke, but accidentally ends up endangering his home. For the English dub, Ponyo and Sōsuke are voiced by Noah Cyrus and Frankie Jonas, respectively, with none other than Betty White joining them as an elderly woman known as Noriko.

Overall, Noriko doesn’t have much to do in the grand scheme of “Ponyo,” meaning Betty White wasn’t exactly in the spotlight too often. Nevertheless, according to a brief interview she gave around the time of the movie’s release (via Trailer Addict), she enjoyed taking part in the project all the same. From the colorful animation style to the nature of the story, as well as the stacked cast that paired her up with Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchett, the late Cloris Leachman, and more, White found the experience “very exciting.” She even refers to “Ponyo” director and Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki as a “genius.”

In the grand scheme of Betty White’s illustrious career, people tend to overlook her time as Noriko in “Ponyo,” which is a shame. The movie is excellent by all accounts and hosts a vocal performance from one of the most influential actresses in history. If you’ve never seen it, now is as good a time as any to check it out.

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