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I’m generally a fan of Miyazaki’s work. However, he exhibits a lot of variation in the quality of his films, and this is one of his poorer ones.

A human-faced “goldfish” seems to be the natural form of the mermaid. One of these creatures is accidentally captured by a human boy, who in the course of releasing it from a glass bottle cuts his thumb. The mermaid licks the blood from the guy’s thumb, with two consequences: the wound is magically healed, and the mermaid gains the ability to extrude creepy chicken limbs with which to walk, like a hovercraft, on any surface which seems convenient.

Mermaids on land are a violation of the natural order of things, so a tsunami submerges all but the highest mountain peaks of the island where the boy lives. Luckily for him, he lives on one of the island’s peaks. Nobody dies in the deluge; the inhabitants of the island instead form a boat parade complete with brass band and flag section to move in orderly fashion to the hotel on the other peak.

The mermaid and the boy set out in the boy’s magically enlarged toy boat to find the boy’s mother. It turns out she’s been hanging out inside an enormous jellyfish bathyscaphe with the goddess of the ocean, who is the mermaid’s mother. Together, they work out an arrangement in which the mermaid loses her magic and turns human for the rest of her life, which will be short given that she will turn to bubbles as soon as the boy stops loving her. The boy is five.

For a very small child, this could be a very fun movie. For anyone much older than the main characters, though, it’s best avoided; there is simply no attempt made to induce anyone to suspend their disbelief at any point.

It’s better than Porco Rosso, at least.

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