Snob Essentials

Ponyo, Lovely But Scary


I love Hayao Miyazaki movies, Spirited Away is one of my all time favorite movies. So you can imagine my excitement when Ponyo came out so I can share it with my tots. We made a whole day out of it – we had lunch and I even promised she can have popcorn and Coke! We got all settled in and the movie begins with the beautiful imagery Miyazaki is known for, it is truly art. I was so happy and I turned to look at my daughter expecting to see a great big smile but instead, her hands were held over her mouth and she had the look of sheer terror in her eyes. We were only 10 minutes in! I held her on my lap and asked if she can give it another chance but I can tell she was really terrified so we left =( I did research and watched all the trailers beforehand, too, and nothing tipped me off as anything other than a sweet story about a fish and a boy. Now thinking about it, Miyazaki movies do have a dark cast to the theme and the bad guys are always eerily evil. The general mood of the movie jars your sense just a tad with the strange visuals and creatures, which makes you on edge and slightly uncomfortable. Maybe that was it because Ponyo, the goldfish with a real face, is totally adorable and the boy is the sweetest ever. Either way I am disappointed I didn’t get to finish the movie and will now probably have to wait for DVD. If your tot is easily unnerved, I would probably skip this and save it for date night. The good news is, the theater manager gave me passes for us to go back for another movie.



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  1. Thanks for the great article. Tip for the future: any movie with the name “Spirited Away” is probably junk and warrents you to “Stay Away”. Sometimes we really don’t realize how bad a (children’s- yikes!) movie is until we go to the theatre, but Anime, in any form, is usually BAD NEWS, no matter how pretty or artistic it is. Just a thought for the future…

  2. Did you even watch Spirited Away, Stoich91? It is a great movie, very touching, subtle but when u do get the message, packs a punch. There are many underlying themes, including social related, in Spirited Away which makes it hell lot more intelligent than the Disney, Pixar offerings. And I have to say that Miyazaki did not make Spirited Away for children. His work is an art form and he has a strong following among adults. When I watched Ponyo, the vast majority of viewers were adults! Junk is many other movies showing at the cinemas, but does not include Miyazaki works and especially NOT Spirited Away! That’s a great title, by the way. seriously, hannah montana is good for the kids? good grief.

  3. Unfortuantly, you are right: Hannah Montanah and Disney are nothing to hold up as ‘standards’, but then again, I never said I was doing such. There are actually few good moives for kids these days, so I agree with you on that point. And no, I didn’t watch Spirited Away: I have better things to do than pollute my brain. 🙂 No offense. And while “Miyazaki did not make Spirited Away for children”, that idea was not clearly depicted in this entry (she took her daughter to see it, remember?), but I was giving applause to Kelly’s negetive review, since this movie is wholeheartedly and without a doubt a pastime that could be one-up’ed by finding a better waste of time.

  4. Stoich91 – If you read Kelly’s original post a little more closely, the review is for Ponyo, not for Spirited Away. While I haven’t seen Ponyo yet, I do believe that Kelly’s review was more a warning that some of the content could be frightening for younger children, rather than a negative review. Ponyo was billed, at least where I am, in a similar vein to Disney’s Little Mermaid. And I would have to say that my 4 year old niece finds some of the content in both The Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo frightening.

    As for Spirited Away, it was a wonderful, thoughtful and beautiful movie, like the rest of Miyazaki’s work. Anime might not be to your taste, Stoich91, and I concur that a great deal of Japanese anime is of a different vein and wholly inappropriate for young children, but one should keep in mind the adage: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Miyazaki’s work is in a completely different league.

  5. Thanks, Celia, for pointing that out: I did kinda skip out on the point that this was rating “Ponyo”, not Spirted Away. I’m not going to endorse Disney’s The Little Mermaid, so it’s not a really good comparison. 🙂 After reading the Ponyo reviews, even the most critical reviewers bestow positive raves over Ponyo, but the actual “viewers” seem to be telling a different story (as in this case and others). While I don’t know much about Miyazaki, and I don’t want to bunch him in the same Anime category as the rest of the lot (which is nothing short of horrifying, and, as you mentioned, a no-no for children- and should be a no-no for adults, imho), some things in life aren’t worth our time. I think you can have adventure without freaking a kid out; yeah, there can be ‘scary’ action parts, but when a kid cries in a movie, that’s when I draw the line.

    I don’t know who this guy is, but he obvioiusly needs to keep his directing skills out of the children’s industry. Kids have enough stress in life to be weeping over (freaky looking) goldfish cartoon movies, no matter how ‘good the morals’ might be. I think other movie industries, like Pixar (and we all know they’re not perfect, either) have proved that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ and has a much more appropriate right for center stage in the children’s film industry; the statistics alone can testify to that. Thanks for hearing me out.