Like Pixar Studios' sophisticated, adult-friendly cartoons, the bittersweet anime of Hayao Miyazaki have one foot in the land of the fantastic and another in the "real world" of unrelenting linear time. Miyazaki's dream worlds are arenas for his child protagonists' — usually plucky heroines — rites of passage. Imaginary creatures and hideous demons don't provide an imaginary respite from the frightening world of adults, where being thrown into new environments without the comfort of friends or the attention of family members is just a painful fact of life. Instead, both worlds reciprocally reflect and influence each other, never allowing one to become subordinate to the other in importance.Like Pixar, Miyazaki operates in the time-honored tradition of children's writers like J.M. Barrie and the Brothers Grimm, who teach children how to discern right from wrong for themselves through self-reliance. Their fantasy worlds teach them that the only way to prepare themselves for the rigors of growing up is to temper hard work with a sense of child-like wonder. In each of these five films leading up to his most recent work, Ponyo (opening today), he forces his protagonists to grow up by making them responsible for their well-being and environment, allowing them to feel at home in whichever world they choose to live.