19 July 2008 | dballred
Another Classic Miyazaki
Whenever Hayao Miyazaki does the "tri-fecta," (writes, directs, and animates a movie) he makes a classic film for the ages. He has done it again with Gake no ue no Ponyo.
The story is about a girl fish who is kept on a very tight leash along with her younger sisters by her father, a bitter ex-human wizard named Fujimoto. The fish escapes from her father and rides a jellyfish to shore, where she is caught up in a dredging operation and finds herself stuck in a bottle. This underwater sequence must be one of the most elaborately drawn animated scenes ever undertaken and stands on its own as a reason to search out the theatrical release. Miyazaki, who shows no fear of having a busy scene, has outdone himself. There were literally hundreds of individually-drawn sea creatures of every imaginable size all in motion at the same time.
When the fish escapes the dredging operation while still trapped in the bottle, a five-year old boy named Sousuke spots her in the water and is able to break the bottle, saving her. Since she is the result of her father's magic, she is capable of magic herself--and her father actively tries to retrieve her. The boy names the fish Ponyo. Just when Sousuke learns that Ponyo can speak, her father successfully retrieves her back into captivity.
After a war of wills with her father, Ponyo manages to escape again with the ability to change herself into a human. She meets up again with Sousuke in a storm and the story continues from there in many interesting ways. There is a cuteness factor in this film rivaling and arguably surpassing that of Tonari no Totoro. Joe Hisaishi, once again, provided outstanding musical support.
The story itself is simple--as are Miyazaki's films in general--and should appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers. While I haven't viewed it enough to be sure, the film doesn't seem to be one which will keep scholars in long discussions as Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi did. Nonetheless, this is the ultimate feel-good entertainment movie. I gave the movie a ten out of ten rating.