Nothing in the great animation of a Miyazaki movie stays cute for long. Not the ocean, not the trees, not the critters that live in them. Change is constant but rarely natural.
If the plot of Ponyo is small as a minnow, its themes -- the relationship between parent and child, between the young and the elderly, between friends, between man and nature -- are large and fully realized.
When Miyazaki makes films that decry the threat to the natural world, every molecule onscreen resonates with that belief -- a belief that dissolves the boundaries between form and content.
This poetic, visually breathtaking work by the greatest of all animators has such deep charm that adults and children will both be touched. It's wonderful and never even seems to try: It unfolds fantastically.
You watch a Miyazaki film with the pie-eyed, gape-mouthed awe of a child being read the most fantastic story and suddenly transported to places previously beyond the limits of imagination. It's quite a trip.
This exquisite pastel-colored, eye-popping example of hand-drawn animation is still very Japanese, aimed most specifically at children around the world -- but with a storytelling sophistication that adults will savor.
Charming, amusing and firmly anchored in a child's point of view, this movie from the master animator of Spirited Away makes a great introduction to that acquired-taste style of filmmaking.
It's a wonderful place that Miyazaki creates, an alternatively sweet and savage world that defies physics and common sense, as imaginative and impossible in its own way as Jules Verne's sci-fi fantasies or Maurice Sendak's animal kingdom.