ponyo on the cliff by the sea

i’m the world’s worst patient. earlier this week, i ended up in the ER of swedish hospital, but that was only because of the baby elephant parked on top of my chest. two and a half hours, two nebulizer treatments, and one flu test later, the doctor proudly proclaimed i had influenza a. oh joy.

when i left work early on tuesday, i thought i’d just come down with another nasty cold, and i’d be all right in a few days. good enough to return to work. then i spent most of the last three days asleep, and all my well intentioned plans to catch up on some of my reading, to study so i could retake my stupid CEBS exam again, to write some, it all flew out the window. yesterday i managed to stay awake for three hours in a row before i needed a nap. today i’m shooting for four and a possible trip to the library to pick up the 8 (!) items i have on hold.

(note to self: suspend all library holds for a month. i’ll NEVER get through the stuff on my bookshelf at this rate.)

sosuke rescues ponyo from the evil bottle

what i did manage to do yesterday, though, in that lovely three hour period, was watch ponyo.

some part of me never really outgrew animated movies. i have a collection of old disney films, and i’ve seen almost all of pixar’s releases, with the exception of toy story 3. but i usually avoid the movies that are geared toward really young kids, because they’re usually a little too simplistic for me, and the voice over acting is always overly earnest and quite terrible.

ponyo, you’d think, would fit into the category of appealing to very young children. the main character, sosuke, is only 5. when he finds a little fish with a bottle wrapped around her head, he saves her by breaking it off, then promptly dumps her in a pail and declares her his new pet, naming her ponyo. ponyo’s father, fujimoto, isn’t all too happy about this, and since he’s the wizard of the sea, he sets about trying to retrieve his daughter. only ponyo is apparently magical and having tasted both sosuke’s blood and some ham, she’s decided she wants to become human. so she turns into a rather shrill little girl about sosuke’s age and together they must bring the planet back into balance because ponyo upset it with her wish to be human.

why would i watch this? because it’s hayao miyazaki. the master of japanese animation has an incredibly vivid imagination and i’ve loved his previous films (even my neighbor totoro, clearly geared toward children around age 6) so i figured it would be worth it. and it was, sort of.

as always, the world that miyazaki imagined is colorful, vibrant, and fun, full of unexpected creatures. and the english version of the film got no less the star treatment than his last two endeavors, with the voices of tina fey, betty white, liam neeson, lily tomlin, and noah cyrus (the shrill voice of little ponyo, and also miley’s kid sister). but i’ve never seen a miyazaki film that had such an overt message. not just a kid appropriate “accept people for who they are”; no, ponyo had a very big environmental bent.

trash is strewn everywhere in the ocean, and that’s how ponyo’s head got stuck in the bottle in the first place; she got caught by a dredger. fujimoto raves on and on about how humans have ruined the planet, and that balance that needs to be restored? if it’s not, the world would be sucked into some type of waterworld – like realm, and the oceans would rise and cover everything. a bit much for your average 6 year old, if you ask me, but then, i’m not 6 years old, so i have no idea of they would understand that part of the message.

if i were to recommend a miyazaki film to someone who’s never seen one, this wouldn’t be it (i’d go with spirited away or howl’s moving castle, my personal favorite). if you’ve seen a number of his films, though, or have a 6 year old at home, well, you might enjoy it.

*image via guardian.co.uk

 

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