Monday, August 24, 2009
Thrilling Symphony Of Anime Sights And Sounds: You Can Tune A "Ponyo" But Can You Tuna Fish?
I couldn't begin to claim profound expertise about the work of Hayao Mizazaki, but I can certainly suggest that the latest offering from Japan's anime wizard, "Ponyo," will constitute a profound bonanza for lovers of wildly inventive animation--and animal lovers.
Of all ages, in both cases.
And although at the screening I attended, the audience was about 70% kids, "Ponyo" should in no way be confused with warm, cuddly child-flick fare. Sure, the film is nominally about a young female fish, Ponyo, who wants to be a little girl and the little boy, Sosuke, who plucks her from the sea--and their (sometimes) cross-species, uh, friendship.
But "Ponyo" is a rich, flavorful bouillabaisse of images and ideas, where parental figures seem sometimes puzzling for their misanthropy (Ponyo's underwater-wizard dad, a Peter Max-ish figure voiced by Liam Neeson) or lapses in judgment (Sosuke's mom, depicted vocally by Tiny Fey drives like a bat out of hell on twisty roads with him in the car and leaves her son--and Ponyo--alone at home in the midst of a huge hurricane), and good/evil issues swirl around environmental questions of varying stripes.
And that ain't the half of it. The film seemed deeply compelling on each of its myriad levels. Most of the kids in the theater watched "Ponyo" in rapt silence.