How much is a Ponyo and where can I get one?! I thought this was an adorable film - one of Miyazaki's more younger orientated features (along with the likes of My Friend Totoro) but it still absolutely delightful in its imagery, plot and characters.
I really liked the opening to the film, which starts immediately with Ponyo - as a goldfish - going to the surface of the ocean transfixed by the thought of becoming a human. It's very simple, and there is no long preamble as in associated tale The Little Mermaid. Miyazaki is very clever at being able to convey thought and action through pictures and movement, so not a lot of dialogue and story is needed when your eyes are dancing about taking in the wonderous detail of every sea creature and facial expression. Ponyo's relationship - first as a fish and then as a human - with local boy Sosuke is unbearably cute as the two young and lonely souls form a friendship. The best part of the film for me is when Ponyo becomes a little girl, and her induction into the house in which Sosuke and his mother lives. Her insatiable taste for "HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM!" is a big highlight, as is her response to a question asked about her father: "He HATES humans, and he keeps me in a bubble" (hilarious!) She is certainly one of the cutest and most lovable creations ever drawn for the screen.
There are also some other surprisingly tender moments, such as Sosuke's absent father who is constantly at sea, and the fiery but comical clashes he has with Sosuke's mother. And the presence of the nursing home within the story also features heavily in the film: Miyazaki choosing to make real characters out of the sweet but crabby residents.
This isn't actually the film I was expecting it to be. From the trailers it seemed as if Ponyo has a duty or destiny to save the tumultuous oceans from destroying the planet, yet even though her actions are tied in with the wild weather the climax seems to come from an intervention from Ponyo's mother and father who make Sosuke promise that he love Ponyo for who she truly is if she is to remain a human. It's not quite as dramatic or powerful as it could have been, especially bearing in mind we get to know little about Ponyo's parents and there isn't the emotional garvity here as say, when Ariel says goodbye to her father in the Disney interpretation. The handling of this goodbye is much more compromised, with Ponyo being allowed to flit between both human and sea world as she pleases, and never having to fully leave anyone. It's much lighter, and probably better suited to a young audience.
Of course there were some real oddities - Sosuke's mother for instance who is really not the best role model for other mums out there! Her decision making and her driving alone made her one of the most reckless parents I have ever seen! She was great though - really feisty yet gentle, and tolerant of her son's attachment to a goldfish. And how a five year old boy can know so much about ancient fish and propane gas canisters is beyond me, Miyazaki....
Still, if ever a film made to twinkle the eyes with delight it's this one. Ponyo a lovely, easy way to get into the world of Hayao Miyazaki and once there you'll be spurred on to enjoy the marvels of his other astounding and richly dense back catalogue such as Princess Mononoke and the Oscar winning Spirited Away. The only sad thing is having to wait several more years before we get the next dazzling adventure...sob sob.