Arriety is a favorite with our family so Ponyo was on. I’ve been a Miyazaki fan since Turner Classics ran a marathon of his films in the early 2000s, with Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) emerging as my personal favorite. Obviously, Spirited Away (2001) took our country by storm as it did other parts of the world, quite an important film, so this was the perfect introduction to not only Miyazaki but Studio Ghibli. So the chance to return to the works on occasion of Miyazaki and Ghibli is always welcome. Ponyo was available so I thought it would be ideal for the final day of my vacation. These films are often always imaginatively visualized, feature creative uses of the environment, and often introduce characters that are lovingly conjured from the genius of innovative artists. Ponyo is recognized as goldfish with human face, making her way to the human world, taking the blood from a boy named Sōsuke when he breaks her from the trap of a glass bottle, and gradually developing human features beyond her face. Her father (of the ocean) and mother (of the ocean) debate about Ponyo becoming influenced by humankind and as the planet appears out of balance where reality is being altered and the surface becomes further engulfed in water. I’ll leave that synopsis as is. It is quite incredible, the ocean’s aquatic life creating this amazing storm that affects the weather, as the water produces a monsoon of fish taking Ponyo to her beloved Sōsuke. Fujimoto, Ponyo’s “father”, was once human, now this type of alchemist with elixirs that have powers. Fujimoto tries to conceal Ponyo’s ability to transition to human form thanks to Sōsuke’s blood but her will to be with him—along with Ponyo’s modicum of sibling goldfish orchestrating an escape—undermines all of that. Granmamare, the “goddess of mercy” and queen of the ocean, Ponyo’s “mother”, tells Fujimoto that their offspring could be granted her wish to be human if Sōsuke tells her he loves her. The sequence involving Sōsuke and Ponyo on a sailboat she was able to grow in size (she has certain powers like telepathy, the ability to change matter, and urges limbs to grow from her body that hadn’t existed before) across the water that now has flooded the city, as fish and ocean life follow them, is aesthetically striking. I do think, above all, the relationship of Sōsuke and Ponyo—the driving engine of the whole out-of-balance shift in nature, complete with the moon drawing closer to the planet and “satellites falling from the sky”—will grab kids my son and daughter’s age, around the age of 10 and 13 years old. It has the actual bond that grows between life from the ocean and life on the land, with the needed magic to bring them together and restore order on the planet (and beyond) as quite a message behind it as well as the lure of fantasy (and the artistry of Studio Ghibli to bring this all to life as only they can) to make it a unique experience. The life of the ocean and how it is vividly depicted, eventually connecting with the human world in unexpected ways. Another sterling example of brilliance painted on canvas for us to enjoy.

I don't want to leave out that there's some nice moments between Sōsuke and his mom, especially when they use light to communicate with the husband/father. The work at the old folks' home and Ponyo's visit and introduction to Sōsuke's mother. Ponyo's taking to ham and offering a baby and her mother soup and sandwiches. Miyazaki always includes the smaller details, granting them significance.