Japanese imagination knows no bound, I must say. A gold fish that looks like a baby girl to me except the missing limbs and the ability to live both in and out of water. Am I the only one who wonder if I was reading the subtitles correctly? It is beyond the visual art on the big screen. It is about changing of perceptions from within your head.
Here is a brief summary of the story (skip this paragraph if you don’t want to read this mild spoiler). A gold fish (more like a little girl) fathered by a sorcerer and has a Goddess as her mother escaped her fish tank within the ocean one day for what? I don’t know. But she found a 5 years old little boy who falls in love with her. Thereafter, this gold fish is recaptured by her father but defies the law of the Universe, tries to become a human being, and in the mist of all these magical intervention, Ponyo (the name of the gold fish given by the young boy) brings along with her Tsunami onto the city of the young boy whom she must meet again.
It is almost a flawless outstanding piece of story crafting. That is to compare with Hayao Miyazaki’s previous work “Spirit Away (2001)” that is quite possibly my favorite of his films that I have watched so far. From the color and grandeur and style point of view, “Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea” has Miyazaki’s trademarks everywhere – just like “Spirited Away (2001)” and “Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)”, both I enjoyed watching a lot. From the animation perspective, the character’s movement looks convincingly natural. From the artwork perspective, I love the clever use of the illusion of light and dark. Looking at that two hot bowls of instant noodle, Cynthia and I looked at each other, swallowed hard feeling very hungry at that very moment. That is realism on 2D.
What “Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea” lacks is perhaps a true villain. I almost say that the ending is kind of weak. But then again, it is so darn cute and memorable. It is a strong recommendation to those who have watched 68 years old Hayao Miyazaki’s previous works. On average, it takes him 3 to 4 years to create a new animation. I can wait. I think his next project will be on global warming.