Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pom Poko Anime Review

Pom Poko
Buena Vista Home Entertainment (Disney)
Movie - 119 min.
$29.99 (2005)
ISBN 786936175257
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Isao Takahata
Studio - Studio Ghibli

Synopsis: A massive urban development is encroaching on the natural forests of a group of tanuki ("raccoon dogs").  Soon the tanuki are fighting amongst themselves for the diminishing resources available to them.  Finally fed up with losing their habitat the tanuki band together to stop the humans with their only weapon - the magical ability of transformation!   
The tanukis practice transformation

Only the elders remember the proper techniques and must teach the younger generation.  Soon the whole group is able to pull off imaginative acts of sabotage on the construction workers and their equipment.  They scare away many workers by feigning supernatural hauntings, but more workers take their place. 

The resistance escalates into all-out warfare as the tanuki grow more desperate.  A group of elders arrives from a far-off island where transformation techniques have reached their pinnacle.  With the powerful elders on their side the tanuki prepare to launch their final illusion.  Will the brave tanuki manage to halt the irresistible force of man's progress?
Lush backgrounds - exactly what we expect from Studio Ghibli
Pros: Amazing animation by Studio Ghibli, wonderful backgrounds, thoughtful story with good mix of humor with serious message, highly creative and entertaining illusions, the tanukis use their massive ballsacks as parachutes and to thrash on humans!

Cons: The giant tanuki ballsacks may not be appropriate for children - because they could wet themselves from laughing so hard

Mike Tells It Straight: Studio Ghibli deliver another amazing film with top notch animation, lush backgrounds, great character designs, unparalleled creativity, and a mature environmental message.  It's nature vs. the destruction caused by man.  Even though the tanuki are playful and their acts of sabotage are more funny than anything, it's tragic to see their way of life slowly destroyed despite all their best efforts. 

Tanukis unleash their secret weapons in a police skirmish

I'm impressed Disney had the "balls" to release this film domestically considering the numerous scenes of "balls" throughout the story.  I'm glad they did and anyone seriously offended by the "balls" should lighten up.  It's a foreign film and part of the folklore of tanukis in Japanese culture - deal with it.  The dub uses the word "pouch" to describe their "balls" which should more than appease an American audience.

Ghibli have become known for their powerful pro-environment messages and score another victory here for enlightenment.  It's a touching, funny film with some highly entertaining illusions by some highly entertaining tanukis.  Watch this movie because you won't see that everyday. 

TO BUY and Recommendations: