Maybe they can pixelate them out

What is going to give American critics more problems with Hayao Miyazaki’s last movie? This:

Although “The Wind Rises” has a strong pacifist message, it is essentially a biopic of Jiro Horikoshi, an aeronautical engineer whose contribution to the world was a killing machine. His designs led to the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter, which was used to devastating effect during World War II.

or this:

Mr. Miyazaki’s film, which is aimed at adults, also features at least eight scenes in which characters smoke cigarettes….

It’s just a matter of time before Haibane Renmei is rated “NC-17” for Reki’s horrifying habit.

Fish story

Someone smuggled a video camera into a showing of Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, and thus I was able to take a look at it last night. It’s not first-rate Miyazaki, but it is much better than Howl’s Moving Castle. ((The book, Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones, is excellent. Give copies to all the youngsters on your Christmas present list, and grab one for yourself. But don’t waste your time on the movie, Miyazaki’s worst.)) It will be worth seeing on the big screen when it’s released in the USA.

The good news: the core story, about the fish who wants to be a human, is something Miyazaki is good at. Ponyo, the magic goldfish, Sosuke, the boy who finds her, and Lisa (or Risa), Sosuke’s mother, are believeable, sympathetic characters. Some of the scenes reminded me of Totoro ((There is a significant parallel to Totoro in that Sosuke’s other parent is absent and, in the latter half of the movie, at risk.)) and Kiki. Ponyo’s first evening as a human in Sosuke’s home is as charming a sequence as Miyazaki’s ever done.

The bad new: the outer story is a mess. It’s a mixture of fairy tale, science fiction, paleontology, celestial mechanics, fantasy and deep ecology that doesn’t immediately add up to anything coherent. (I suppose I should be grateful that there isn’t a war going on.) Perhaps the symbolism will click after several more viewings and all will be clear and logical, but I doubt it.

Ponyo is not prime Miyazaki, but half of it is very good, and all of it is pleasing to the eyes, if not to the mind.

Incidentally, I was surprised by the quality of the video, both image and sound. There were very few clues that this was a surreptitious recording.

Screen captures below the fold.

Continue reading “Fish story”


Nick did a little research into the production costs of several movies. If his figures are accurate, what’s astonishing is not how much Princess Mononoke cost but how little Five Centimeters Per Second and Perfect Blue did.


Since Amaenaideyo!! has been licensed, I dropped it from the poll at right. It makes little difference; it only received one vote of the seventy-one cast so far.