Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki
A very Japanese retelling of the Little Mermaid, with environmental concerns and a gentle message to be kind to others rolled in. I watched the English version because I enjoy the translation (except for the bit where in the Japanese Risa messages ‘Baka baka baka’ to her husband, in English it’s ‘bug off’ which isn’t as funny to me.) Plus the English version has Tina Fey as the mother and I adore her.
Sosuke is a sailor’s son who rescues a magical goldfish whose mother is a goddess and father is a wizard. When he accidentally allows her to taste his blood he triggers something – possibly her access to her father’s magic? Unlike the Disney Little Mermaid, Ponyo seizes her own destiny and forces her body into the shape of a human’s, opening defying her father and pursuing what she wants instead. It’s hard to tell if this is truly empowering though, since she is purely doing it to be with Sosuke, but it’s also hard to care too much. The movie is pure delight.
Ponyo’s actions – again unlike Ariel in the Little Mermaid – her actions have massive repercussions. Her joyous rush towards the land with her sisters creates a tsunami that floods the island Sosuke lives on and upsets the balance of the universe bringing satellites and stars down from the sky.
The movie is beautiful, displaying Miyazaki’s love for the ocean, everything on it and everything underneath it. My favourite sequence is when she makes Sosuke’s boat bigger and they float over the flood waters which have been filled with prehistoric fish. It’s gorgeous, lovely colours and strange creatures. I love dinosaurs 😄
Does it make me love the people? Oh yes, almost instantly with every character.
Bechdel test: Yes, the old ladies talk to each other about how great it is to be able to use their legs and run again. Ponyo talks to Lisa as well, and the goddess talks to various people including women.
Best line: Ponyo wants ham!
(I can relate to that sentiment, also this one:)
Lisa: I say we start with dessert and go backwards. It’s been a backwards kind of day!
State of Mind: Serene. It’s such a visually beautiful movie that it calms me.