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Isao Takahata's outré ecological fablePom Pokowas the no. 1 domestic film in Japan in 1994, and the first animated feature to be submitted for the Oscar for Foreign Language Film. In 1967, the raccoons in the Tama Hills find their homes are threatened with destruction when developers turn the rural area into suburbs. Under the leadership of their tribal elders the animals fight back with every resource at their disposal. Raccoons are shape-shifters in Japanese folk tales, and the members of this tribe can transform into objects, other creatures and even humans.

Unlike Takahata's deeply moving The Grave of the Fireflies, Pom Poko (the sound made by thumping the tummy of a comfortably full raccoon) is a broad comedy. The raccoons' efforts to understand humans, their evocations of traditional ghost stories to frighten construction crews, and their internecine quarrels offers plenty of laughs. But the story rambles, and the characters lack the depth needed to sustain the audience's interest until the film's belated, downbeat conclusion. The extras include Takahata's storyboards, which are interesting, but lack the magic of Hayao Miyazaki's drawings on other Studio Ghibli discs. Note: male raccoons have prominent testicles, which are shown in Japanese art, including the designs for Pom Poko. When the characters grow desperate, they swell their scrotums to enormous size and use them as weapons. (Rated PG, Parental Guidance Suggested: violence, scary images and thematic elements) --Charles Solomon

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CastNijiko Kiyokawa, Yuriko Ishida, Norihei Miki, Shinchô Kokontei, Makoto Nonomura
DirectorIsao Takahata
Genre:  Animation
Screen WriterHayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata
DVD Release Date:  August 16, 2005
Runtime:  119 minutes
Studio:  Walt Disney Home Entertainment
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More Pom Poko reviews
review by . November 17, 2009
posted in ASIANatomy
Pom Poko is a film produced by Studio Ghibli and directed by Isao Takahata that relies heavily on Japanese folklore. Pom Poko was released by Disney as part of the deal the company made with Studio Ghibli; the film was released in the United States on DVD in 2005. Pom Poko tells the story of a group of tanuki (called raccoons in the English dub and subtitles) who are trying to find a way to save their home the Tama New Town development that's being built and causing a decrease in living space and …
review by . August 16, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
This is another indication of how surprisingly wonderful the Studio Ghibli films can be. This film brings ancient Japanese traditions to life in a remarkably modern story, told after the fashion of a nature documentary. I loved to see the racoons monkey-wrenching a new development in Japan that threatened their habitat. For open-minded children of all ages, this is a magical ecological fable. For children too young to understand the, um, transforming body parts, or for parents too uptight to acknowledge …
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