Friday, March 12, 2010

Ponyo (2008)

Dir: Hayao Miyazaki
Disney Blu-ray

I loved this one in the theater and it lost none of it's impact on a second viewing at home. This is a retelling of the The Little Mermaid but only as the Japanese master of animation Miyazaki could do. In this modern day version, the mermaid is replaced by a goldfish (to be known as Ponyo) with magic abilities. Her father is an underwater wizard that once upon a time was a human, and her mother is an ocean spirit. Ponyo runs away to the surface world where she meets Sosuke, a little boy whose mother works at a senior center and a father that is a boat captain. Sosuke finds Ponyo on the shore and promptly puts her in a bucket of water. Sosuke cuts his finger and Ponyo licks the blood. This triggers the narrative as it gives Ponyo the ability to become human and solidifies the bond between the two. Her father pursues her in one of the most imaginative scenes, he has a giant contraption strapped to his back that he has to use to pump ocean water wherever he walks. He does get Ponyo back only for her to escape again and become a little girl that goes to stay with Sosuke and his mother which leads to their grand adventure. One of the great things about the film is the adults' willingness to accept magic just as easily as children do. Miyazaki can create bizarre worlds that have little explanation of their own rules but the audience can still buy into them completely. It's a world of child logic that strikes a chord inside anyone willing to watch. I also found the viewing experience interesting in the sense that it was the first time I noticed my three year old daughter get invested in a story with genuine concerns for what was happening to the characters.
The Blu-ray looks incredible with this hand-drawn, candy-colored world leaping off my screen. A must-see!


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