Chances are the first movie you ever saw was animation. Exuberant, colorful and full of wonder, animation is the stuff…
As the human city development encroaches on the raccoon population's forest and meadow habitat, the raccoons find themselves faced with the very real possibility of extinction. In response, the raccoons engage in a desperate struggle to stop the construction and preserve their home.
A community of fantastical shapeshifting raccoons is threatened by human development, the living area is reduced as well as the food resources. Lack of sustenance leads to brutal internal wars, but the wisdom of the elders channels the energy and frustration of all raccons against a common enemy: Man.
Isao Takahata's Pom Poko is arguably the most divisive animation coming out of Studio Ghibli, it's a film that includes lots of Japanese folklore references, either by the raccoons and their relationship with the foxes or by the tales, ghost stories, parades, expressionless faces and everything else. The design of the raccoons was rather controversial, on one hand because of the anthropomorphism and transformations, which some consider excessive, and on the…
Part 10 of my Studio Ghibli retrospective.
With his first three films for Studio Ghibli, Isao Takahata seemed to be almost stubbornly resisting any stylistic trademarks. Grave of the Fireflies was a historical wartime melodrama, Only Yesterday a nostalgic romantic comedy, and Pom Poko a sort of war epic with liberal amounts of fantasy and satire. As an artist, Takahata can never be accused of resting on his laurels or revisiting what has worked before.
In Pom Poko, Takahata chooses to use a briskly-paced narration to provide exposition, especially filling in the gaps when the film jumps ahead in time. The Japanese language is not particularly poetic or aesthetically pleasing, but it excels at this kind of rhythmic, gradually unfolding…
If there is one thing in this world that I am sure of, it would be that 'Pom Poko' would hands down win the award for most bizarre use of testicles in film history!
It's all about balance. When the raccoons imagine their perfect past, it's a time when the humans peacefully coexisted with them, not absent of humans. Also, it's about having awesome parties for any reason whatsoever.
So eccentric and rambunctious. Instead of the ostentatious crescendos and moral algebra at play in something like Princess Mononoke (which I love), Pom Poko flows freely from vignette to vignette, only allowing its implications to surface in outbursts. At points, it felt like some political insurgent movie that just happened that star tanuki. At others, it felt like some kinda lost family melodrama (those final transformations one last hurrah for now gone way of life). It's bizarre and troubling and beautiful
This is one that has slipped my net for a while and I am so glad to have finally gotten round to watching it as it is just SO MUCH fun.
Although it is in many respects different from many other Ghibli films as it doesn't really have a main character, it's central theme of the importance of nature is a familiar one.
As you would expect with a Ghibli, the animation is beautiful, the characters are great and the detail in each scene which, like many other Ghibli films really helps you immerse yourself in the world - which is a really great thing considering how fun the story and world as a whole is.
What sets this apart…
Very fun, un-Miyazaki-like take on what wikipedia tells me is traditional folklore that focuses on the clash of two communities rather than a central character. Testicles are big here. Literally and figuratively. That has probably kept POM POKO from being more widely appreciated in the West.
There are occasional expository / explanatory cut aways that shift into dramatically different art styles. I enjoyed these a bunch. There's a great fake out on a potential resolution. This fake out reflects the reality of the man-overtaking-nature theme and keeps the whole show honest. Good times.
Pretty unpredictable and interesting
Takahata is quickly becoming a new favorite director of mine.
This is an environmentalist film - an environmentalist mocumentary, really - that's not afraid to be funny, even downright silly at times. At once, it manages to be both as beautiful as the other Studio Ghibli animations and as cartoon-y as your typical Saturday morning anime. The raccoon characters, though lazy as can be and not particularly bright, are likable in their strength as a community, which makes the separation of the transforming raccoons from the non-transforming ones all the more heartbreaking.
I'd also recommend the English dub for this one, because the English-speaking cast is AMAZING. Especially if you're an Animaniacs fan - you'll recognize the narrator.
I love how this film is so steeped in Japanese folklore. McDonald's scarfing tanukis smash bulldozers with mystical ball sacks, a parade of yokai terrorize an encroaching New Town, no face humans spook a cop. The cavalcade of one eyed umbrellas, long necked geishas, shape shifting foxes, and roly poly hairy uggos brought a smile to my face like few films can.
Takahata preaches to the choir on this one, for sure. I love the environmentalist themes that run throughout most of Ghibli's films, but Pom Poko offers the best argument, contrasting an urban concrete sludgescape with a lush and lovingly detailed forest. I actually choked up a little toward the finish when bodies piled up and the tanukis showed…
POM POKO must have done something right. My son, who was raised on a steady diet of Studio Ghibil films, breathlessly declared this to be his favorite after we watched it for the first time this week. He's misguided, but nevertheless, it's still an enjoyable movie, and better than most animated films from that era (I'm looking at you, POCAHONTAS).
POM POKO was directed by Isao Takahata, from a script by Hayao Miyazaki, which was an adaption of a manga by someone else. Studio Ghibli's strongest efforts have usually been original ideas: Totoro, Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, etc. With that in mind, I'm not surprised this is a lesser light in the canon.
The main theme is again related…
"Who can tell me *why* the tanuki fell out of the tree?"
"He was a loser."
Despite being about 15 minutes too long and a tad bit repetitive, Pom Poko is an excellent film. It is easily one of Ghibli's most underrated gems.
The themes are pretty on the nose and typical for Takahata - respect for nature, nostalgia for an imagined past, a lukewarm attitude towards modernization and conformity. The animation is excellent, and the film is quite funny and often very dark.
A strange one -- not always compelling, but always interesting.
surprisingly profound and affecting story of the consequences of urbanization and urban sprawl––from the perspective of the sapient and mythic (and testicularly well-endowed) tanooki. this film is takahata showcasing just how much he embraces the plasmatic nature of animation, and how deftly he's able to morph the contents of his frame without jarring our viewing experience. instead, his transformative animation feels like free-flowing poetry.
i used to think that people who claimed takahata was low-key more talented than miyazaki were just blowing hot air out of their asses, but there's a surprising amount of truth to that statement. not that i would ever want to pick one over the other, but takahata's brilliance as a filmmaker is certainly now clear to me if it were ever in doubt before.
his filmmaking is sublime, but i can't help but feel in this movie that the narrative itself is never quite as potent as its direction. the ending is superb, however.
Well since I don't think there is a comprehensive list of anime films in letterboxd and I love them so…
'1000 Films to Change your Life' is a book with excerpts from many highly regarded critics, actors, directors and writers,…