This afternoon I went to see Mizayaki's new animated feature, Ponyo, which he intended as a children's film. Generally, his films are somewhat too intense for children, although they are animated and have child protagonists. They are mythical fables, intensely imaginative and wonderfully rendered. This one, however, was genuinely suitable for children, but that did not stop it from being delightful from the beginning to the end, particularly to someone, like me, who loves to read children's books and see children's films, when they are well done.
Many of Mizayaki's stories are ecological in theme, and feature a disaffected anti-hero sorcerer who is not really human. This one was no exception. It was a re-telling of the little mermaid, but without the sad tone of the Grimm version.
Just as there is always a sorcerer who plays the antagonist in this director's films, there is often a powerful nature goddess, and she was here as well. Ponyo, of the title, is the daughter of the sorcerer and the goddess, who is kept in a bubble under the sea by her father, who seeks to keep her away from all things human, though he was once human himself.
The story resonates on many levels, though the children in the audience had no trouble assimilating it either. I urge you to overcome the notion that it is purely for children, and go see it yourself.