Ponyo

The cell animation is imaginative and beautiful and there are friendship, loyalty and love at the heart of this whimsical film.

The filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki is often referred to as Japan's Walt Disney, but the comparison is only correct half of the time. As well as intimate and heartwarming stories about youth and imagination (such as My Neighbour Totoro or Kiki's Delivery Service), he also creates epic and frequently violent reflections on war and loss (Princess Mononke, Spirited Away). With a primary-school-aged protagonist who discovers his pet fish is actually a little girl, Ponyo falls neatly into the first category. Sosuke (voiced by Frankie Jonas) and his mother (Tina Fey) live in a quiet seaside town - his father (Matt Damon) is a fisherman and rarely at home. One day, the lonely boy catches a fish down by the water that he names Ponyo (Noah Cyrus) but cuts his finger in the process. When the fish licks the wound it heals almost instantly and a bond is formed between the pair. But Sosuke is unaware that Ponyo's father is a great sea wizard who, after fearing his daughter has been kidnapped, summons a storm to bring her home. When she returns, Ponyo tells her father that she wants to go back to her new friend and become human. The cell animation is as imaginative and beautiful as any other Miyazaki creation, but Ponyo is unlikely to be considered one of the filmmaker's greatest attempts at storytelling. Although unashamedly strange and whimsical, there's no denying that the film has friendship, loyalty and love at its core.