Hayao Miyazaki’s wondrous anime fantasy, which won this year’s Oscar for best animated feature, is a sort of Yellow Submarine
(without the songs) Meets Through the Looking Glass
as channeled through Japanese folklore and culture. The legendary maker of My Neighbor Totoro
and Princess Mononoke
came out of retirement and hits full imaginative stride with a fractured, knotted story about adjusting to new surroundings and courage in the face of peril. It follows the adventures of a 10-year-old girl who tries to rescue her parents when they are transformed into huge hogs after the family wanders into what appears to be an abandoned theme park. The characters of this truly magical mystery tour include a boy who morphs into a dragon, a huge toddler, a famished and faceless ghost, and a mind-boggling assortment of talking animals and creatures. This moody, oscillating dream-nightmare is rated PG and has some intense moments that may frighten younger children.