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.