The latest movie from the genius director of Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke is called Gake no Ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). It opens this month in Japan, and the first English-language review, in the Japan Times, calls it a "classic," though even after reading the review, we really don't understand what it's about. It seems a little bit Little Mermaid–y, but with a lot more flooding.
It's also apparently made for — and from the point of view of — very small children:
[Ponyo] exceeds even My Neighbor Totoro in simplicity, with a core target audience about as old as its hero — 5. This is not to say that those who have mastered hiragana (or the alphabet) will be bored, as long as they leave their expectations for the usual Miyazaki film at the door.
Miyazaki has made what is for any adult — but especially a 67-year-old anime veteran — an extraordinary leap: In Ponyo he is not just telling a story to tikes, but imaginatively becoming one himself. I was reminded of the famous opening of James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, with its recital of the hero's earliest memories in the language of infancy ("Once upon a time there was a moocow coming down along the road and…"), as if the author were re-inhabiting an earlier self.
Anyway, the dozens of stills on the movie's official Studio Ghibli Website are incredibly gorgeous. (To see them, find the four rectangles on the left of the page, and click on the second one.) We've captured a few after the jump, as well as a Japanese TV program's airing of the trailer, above. We're really excited about this, and excited that our daughter will have a Miyazaki movie made for her. While she sort of liked Spirited Away, she got really concerned afterward that her father was going to turn into a pig like Chihiro's father. Apparently, we eat like that all the time.