Reading Dana’s lovely and whimsical review of Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki’s new film Ponyo - which itself sounds lovely and whimsical - I swelled with gratitude for his sui generis filmmaking and the way he seriously applies it to children’s themes. When we discovered Miyazaki through his film for young children, My Neighbor Totoro , I felt like I’d walked through the Disney looking glass into a world of animation that would actually make my kids see their own surroundings differently. Later we discovered Kiki’s Delivery Service , the coming-of-age tale of a kid witch, which is my all-time favorite kids’ movie. One of the things I love about Miyazaki is that you can move through his movies as your children get older. Castle in the Sky is good for my 6-year-old and 9-year-old, and so is Princess Mononoke , but Howl’s Moving Castle looks a few years off, and we haven’t gotten to Spirited Away yet either. (Here’s a primer with more on the films.) Dana, you say that Ponyo may be too intense for young kids, even though your 3-year-old daughter got the plot right away. (Your great summary: “Boy meets fish-girl, boy loses fish-girl, fish-girl risks upsetting the cosmic order to get boy back.”) If you have a chance, tell us more - what kind of kid at what age might the new movie work for? I’m especially keen to take my kids because it sounds like the movie complicates the message of environmentalism that is often shoveled at them as dogma .
Photograph of Hayao Miyazaki and Noah Cyrus, a Ponyo cast member, by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images.