Japan is so very very special.

So this weekend was very meh. I did a bunch of stuff, none of it was particularly memorable or exciting. I saw a bunch of movies, they were all uninspiring, and I tried to draw a bird’s nest, but it didn’t turn out how I wanted it to. One movie I did see was Ponyo, the new Studio Ghibli film. Studio Ghibli does anime films, the two most famous of which are probably My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. The first Studio Ghibli film I saw was Princess Mononoke in 1997. It was my first anime film and when I saw it I was like, “What the huh? Nothing makes any freakin’ sense.” And when I spoke to other people, they all huffed and chuffed at me, I didn’t understand the finer nuances of this Japanese art, I needed to appreciate that they constructed stories differently then the way Westerners were accustomed, etc. So I tried to open my mind and embrace this anime thing, I really did, for a decade. After seeing Ponyo this past weekend I have come to the conclusion that the Japanese are just nuts and there is no plot line in the Studio Ghibli films and I quit. Recap of the story (big chunks pulled from Wikipedia):

The plot is centered on a fish girl who lives in an aquarium in her father’s underwater castle with numerous identical tinier versions of herself. Her father, who is human-ish, is some kind of sorcerer trying to keep the world in balance. When her father takes her and her tiny doppelgangers (let’s call them Ponyo’s sisters) on an outing in his four-flippered submarine, she is driven by a desire to see even more of the world and swims away. She ends up stranded on the shore of a small fishing town, and is rescued by Sosuke, a five year old boy who lives on a cliff by the sea. He cuts his finger and the fish-girl licks the blood. She also eats Sosuke’s ham out of his sandwich. Sosuke names her Ponyo and promises to protect her forever. Meanwhile, her father, Fujimoto, is looking for his daughter, upset that she ran away. He calls his wave spirits to return Ponyo to him. Ponyo and her father have a confrontation, where Ponyo refuses to let her father call her “Brünnhilde”. She declares her name to be Ponyo, and voices her desire to become human because she has started to fall in love with Sosuke. Since she has tasted human blood, she can now turn into a human. Her father silences her with difficulty and goes to summon Ponyo’s mother. Meanwhile, Ponyo, with the help of her sisters, breaks away from her father, and uses his secret magic golden fluid that he keeps under lock and key to make herself human. This causes her sisters to turn into giant blue fish made of water. They thrash around, making a huge storm that threatens to flood Sosuke’s fishing village. Running on the backs of the giant water-fish, Ponyo goes back to visit Sosuke. Lisa (Sosuke’s mother), Sosuke, and Ponyo stay the night at Sosuke’s house, hoping the storm will be over, whereupon Lisa leaves the house to check up on the residents of the nursing home where she works. Ponyo eats more ham.

Ponyo’s mother, Granmammare, who some kind of giant glowing sea goddess, arrives at Fujimoto’s submarine. Fujimoto notices the moon has come out of its orbit and the satellites are falling like shooting stars due to the imbalance of the world. Granmammare declares that if Sosuke and Ponyo pass a test, Ponyo can live as a human and the world order will be restored. Sosuke and Ponyo wake up to find that most of the land around where the house has been covered by the ocean. Lisa has not come home yet, so with the help of Ponyo’s magic, they make Sosuke’s toy boat life-size and set out to find Lisa. While traveling they see ancient extinct fish swimming, such as the Gogonasus and Licosus. They also encounter a baby in a canoe who is grumpy and who may or may not have a cold. Ponyo develops narcolepsy and falls asleep suddenly. After landing and finding Lisa’s empty car, Ponyo and Sosuke go through a tunnel. There Ponyo loses her human form and resumes the form of a fish. Sosuke and Ponyo are taken by Fujimoto into the ocean and down to the protected nursing home covered with a giant jellyfish dome, where they’re reunited with Lisa and meet Granmammare, both of whom had just had a long private conversation. Also, all the humans can breathe water in this dome and all the elderly wheelchair-ridden people in the nursing home can walk. Granmammare asks Sosuke if he can love Ponyo even if she is a fish or mermaid. Sosuke replies that he loves Ponyo in all forms. Granmammare then allows Ponyo to become human once Ponyo kisses Sosuke on the surface. Ponyo is placed in a bubble and everyone goes back to the surface, where Ponyo becomes a human. And most likely eats ham.

See? See what I mean? I’m not exaggerating any of that. Maybe it really all deep and meaningful, maybe it’s people ashamed to not understand Asian films and having a whole “emperor’s new clothes” thing, either way, I don’t care anymore. Frankly, the Japanese and I have been having a falling-out for a while now, this was just the final straw. The Japanese have given us such fine things as this:

origami 36100beginner momonga

But they have also given us this:

yamambas octopusicecream weird-japan-012

And let’s not forget the Japanese-invented genre of porn dedicated to schoolgirls getting raped by octopii and squid. So Japan and I are going to take a little time-out until they can stop this tomfoolery. I am going to a Japan street fair in a week and a half, hopefully my frustrations with that distant island will have ebbed by then.

Addendum: Here’s a review of Ponyo from someone who didn’t mind the non-linear not-based-in-any-reality-anywhere style. Just to give you a different perspective. Heads up: some expletives are used.

http://fourfour.typepad.com/fourfour/2009/08/ham.html

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