It was hard for me to watch the initial trailers and advertisement for this movie because the animation just looked so … simple. I was forlorn that legendary director Hayao Miyazaki was taking a step backwards. He was stepping away from the complexity of his recent works. While his take on Han Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid tale is intended for young children, I was relieved when I finally saw the finished animation. I got what he was going for: a painterly aesthetic that is seductively simple. The boy meets fish-turned-girl tale is resoundingly cute with a delightful sense of wonder; however, it really just sort of comes to an abrupt stop. The character relationships are established, the conflict of a sea princess being on land is developed, and then all the magical creatures team up and chat with the humans, and then we’re pretty much done. It’s a curiously hasty conclusion and it makes the movie feel less formalized and finished; Miyazaki is still one of the most imaginative filmmakers alive, in any medium, but Ponyo, while visually appealing and mostly adorable, suffer from shrift storytelling that ultimately makes this a cute if passing diversion.
Nate’s Grade: B