Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Ponyo: Fish with faces that come out of the sea

The first ten minutes of Ponyo are probably enough to turn you back into a child. The little fish escapes from her father's undersea fortress and rides to the top of the ocean on a squid, with hypnotic orchestral music pushing her up. It's the style of the Ghibli films that really impresses. The best hand-drawn animation you'll ever see, and the score turning everything into a fuzzy dream. In this case the plot is nothing special, but it doesn't seem to matter when there's tsunami-riding five year olds and piles of moon-pulled ships stacked against the horizon. Ponyo meets Sōsuke but is then taken back into the sea by Liam Neeson. Her enterprising attempts to get back to the boy causes a tsunami to drown the coastal town. At this point Sōsuke's massively irresponsible mother decides to drive through the storm to her hilltop house, almost killing her son a few times. She then leaves him there on his own and goes back to work. It's a good thing he's got a magic fish girl for company. She turns his toy boat into a proper one and they go sailing together.

It's hard not to spend a whole day watching this stuff. My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle - these are films that need to be watched. All with an obvious Japanese identity but a universal wonderfulness. There's a Ghibli collection to be started. There's things I haven't seen - Princess Mononoke, Kiki's Delivery Service. The problem is that the DVD boxes are numbered one to seventeen. My instincts tell me I need all of them - they're numbered - but common sense tells me I only want a few. Six. Maybe seven. In order.


  1. Miyazaki is my hero...
    Pssht common sense, just buy 'em all. They're worth it. Watch them. Rewatch them, over and over again. Preferably in Japanese, it beats the English translation by far.

  2. I haven't seen any of them in Japanese yet. I'm saving that for the rewatch.

  3. Miyazaki films are great, I really need to see more of them.
    Spirited Away is my favourite of the few I've seen, wonderful film!

    I thought Ponyo was one of their minor films though, the animation was nowhere near as good as some of his other works...