“You can’t be human and magic at the same time”

Saw Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea today, and was, indeed, charmed. Not everything made perfect sense, not all the loose ends were neatly tied up (or tied up at all), but I didn’t much care–I found it delightful anyway.

And I was especially struck by this spoilery thing: the story is a little mermaid story–of sorts–and in the end the protagonist, Sōsuke, needs to decide whether he can not only love Ponyo, but whether he can love her in all her forms, as not only a human girl, but also as a water-bound fish.

Adults, in stories like this, balk, they have issues and hesitations, they love others and so can’t give their love to the one who needs to be saved. The original Little Mermaid went badly enough, and the prince involved only needed to accept the title character as a human. Adults fail, in various ways, at the whole acceptance thing all the time, in fairy tales and out of them.

But Sōsuke is five, and the decision that might cause so much angst for adults is a no-brainer for him. “I love all the Ponyos,” he says, and the world is saved. Just like that. (How it’s saved, and why his decision saves it, is one of the things that didn’t entirely make sense–but that’s beside the point.)

Anyway, that’s why, when we came to the moment when Sōsuke made his decision–I was genuinely moved, for all that it was, in fact, easy. Because I think it’s being easy was part of the point. Children are not always innocents, but sometimes, we adults complicate things.

And also, of course, because he did in fact have to make an at least somewhat difficult journey before he could get to the place of making the easy decision.

(I also liked how, though it was Sōsuke’s decision, Ponyo’s mother understood–as Sōsuke of course could not–that it would be Sōsuke’s mother’s responsibility, since she would have to raise Ponyo, and so made sure Sōsuke’s mother was up for the consequences of that decision, too.)

Also gorgeous animation, of course. I could pretty much watch any Miyazaki film for the visuals and the characters, regardless of whether any plot were actually present.

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