Like most Miyazaki films, the plot is pretty complicated for a film that looks like it is targeted for children. Of course, a lot of children’s films like the ones from Disney and Pixar deal with mature topics, and Ponyo is certainly one of them.
So what is the plot of Ponyo? Well, it is about this sea-creature who is apparently the offspring of a goddess-like creature named Granmamare and a human-like scientist named Fujimoto. Fujimoto has a lot of these tadpole like children, but one named Brunhilde escapes and meets a boy named Sosuke. When Brunhilde bites Sosuke’s finger, she tastes his blood and Brunhilde begins to become human. At this point, Brunhilde calls herself Ponyo because this is what Sosuke calls her. Fujimoto uses his magical powers to get Ponyo/Brunhilde back, but Ponyo escapes.
The thing is, Ponyo escapes by unintentionally sabotaging Fujimoto’s lab, and this causes the waters to rise. This causes a tsunami to happen, which is really sad considering this happened to Japan for real a few years after this film was released. In the midst of this terrible storm, Sosuke and his mother, Lisa, are trying to get home when they encounter Ponyo again.
Here’s the issue that I had with this film. Big things are happening, some of them supernatural, and it doesn’t seem to bother anyone. Lisa sees Ponyo and doesn’t seem to react like a mother would when encountering a sea creature turned human. Now, it could be that Lisa just assumes that Ponyo is an ordinary human, but she doesn’t try and call the authorities to say that she found a lost girl. This is what anyone else would do, and it can be argued that Lisa can’t do anything in the midst of a huge storm.
So now Fujimoto has to find Ponyo before the world gets even more chaotic. And then Lisa leaves her child and his new friend alone so she can help out the old people that she takes care of. Yeah, that is a bad parent move, but the Nostalgia Critic’s review of this film has already pointed that out.
I suppose that the film is a love story, but the biggest problem is the lovers are only eight years old. I don’t know if the film is saying that younger love is better than most, and I will have to admit there is something to that. Is the theme that one can always bank on younger love to save the world?
Yeah, I’m not certain what this film is saying as a whole, other than bad things happen, love will save you. Still, there is a childish innocence to this movie that can’t be ignored. I’m told that Miyazaki loved it so much that he wanted a sequel.