MOVIES

Every Hayao Miyazaki Movie, Ranked

After the landmark “Howl’s Moving Castle” and the genre-shattering “Spirited Away,” Hayao Miyazaki returned in 2008 to complete a string of three all-time greats with “Ponyo.” For the film, Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli decided to turn to a new, bolder animation style they’d perfected on a series of shorts that focused on simplistic linework that could achieve results that more highly rendered work couldn’t. To tell the story, Miyazaki spent time researching coastal towns in Japan and found inspiration halfway around the world in a British art museum and the work of both Hans Christian Anderson and painter John Everett Millais.

“Ponyo” is an underwater tale centered on a goldfish princess named Brunhilde. Breaking her people’s laws, Brunhilde heads above the waves to the human town where she meets a boy named Sosuke, who dubs her “Ponyo,” and the two become fast friends. After helping to heal Sosuke when he is injured, though, Ponyo begins to slowly transform into a human, and the more time that Ponyo spends on the surface away from the water, the more she wishes to remain there forever. When her father comes to bring her home, however, Ponyo accidentally puts the entire village in danger.

A delight for families, kids, and adults of all ages, “Ponyo” may not be Miyazaki’s best, but it might be his most timeless and accessible. An easy entry point for those unfamiliar with his work, it takes hallmarks of animated classics like “The Little Mermaid,” “Finding Nemo,” and “Cinderella,” and adds the iconic director’s own unique style to become something truly special.

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