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Pom Poko (Heisei tanuki gassen pompoko) (The Raccoon War) Reviews

Page 1 of 35
Christopher H

Super Reviewer

January 19, 2012
The most bizarre and "Japanese" Studio Ghibli effort. Ironically, despite featuring shape-shifting raccoon dogs straight from Japanese folklore and their giant testicles, the third Ghibli feature directed by Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies, Only Yesterday) feels oddly un-eventful. Through a coldly dethatched pseudo-documentary style, the story follows the exploits of the raccoon dogs in their efforts to thwart the construction workers and developers that threaten their forest homes through eco-terrorism.

If you thought the eco-preservation themes in Miyazaki's 'Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind' were heavy-handed, then you've not seen this weird creation. Watching this film is almost the equivalent of being hit on the head with a tree branch while the person is yelling "Be kind to the environment!!". However, what's perplexing is that despite the overtly serious environmental themes, 'Pom Poko' is also riddled with goofy cute animal antics and surreal scenes involving gargantuan raccoon testicles (used as methods of transportation and weapons...this movie is weird). What tone is this movie going for?

Made worse is the lack of a central protagonist or developed characters, which is shocking for a Studio Ghibli film. At times the raccoon dogs also come off as un-sympathetic. In one scene, the raccoon dogs go into a disturbing laughing frenzy after being told that humans died in one of their latest acts of eco-terrorism. Combine this with constant references to Japanese folklore and being a deep allegory to Japanese history (that requires a college degree in order to understand), plenty has been lost in translation.

This entry in the Studio Ghibli catalogue may be a weak link but there are still some redeeming factors. The animation is once again great and the sequence involving the raccoon dogs transforming into different forms in order to scare the nearby townsfolk is a definite highlight. The production value is almost enough to make this flick watchable but even then it's hard to get past the film's weak narrative that never feels like it takes-off and jarring shifts in tone.

I admire the film's originality and daringness but in the end it just has too much working against it.
Luke B

Super Reviewer

April 30, 2011
I love Studio Ghibli. This was a huge disappointment. From the moment it started I knew it was going to be a poor effort from an exceptional studio. It was headachingly preachy and condescending from the very beginning. Princess Mononoke was able to evaluate the relationship between man and nature without coming off as educational seminar. In Pom Poko, we are given facts and figures and diagrams and highly obvious visual "metaphors". The entire film is a mess of wrongfully judged tonal shifts. Yes, it was brave to have the raccoons kill the humans, but it's attempt at comedy and cuteness it severely misjudged. The whole film is narrated over in a very lazy fashion. The film is pretty much told to us, without any attempt at creativity or visual imagination. There are no lead characters to connect with, making these raccoons as bad as the humans they fight, if not worse. There are also a lot of awkward moments involving male raccoons forcing themselves upon the females, and testicles that can morph. These testicles are used as humor but are simply not funny. It's an awkward movie with an obvious message, handled with none of the charm, passion, nor humanity, that I've come to expect from Ghibli.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

October 4, 2010
One of the more bizarre additions to the Gibli collection, it's good but I think a lot is lost in translation. Still, a mighty fine film and still better than Dreamworks.
Lewis C

Super Reviewer

March 11, 2008
Gotta love those crazy raccoons!
Kylie B

Super Reviewer

July 6, 2007
The transformation scenes were amazing, but I think the rest of the film was too cute for me, scrotums aside.

Super Reviewer

July 27, 2009
The story goes a bit all over the place, but I've always got time for happy ecological shape-shifting racoons
Marion R

Super Reviewer

August 23, 2010
I have been brainwashed by Disney, or so to say I am so use to the Disney-fied films, in which everything goes according to plan. This film doesn't pull any punches and in fact it made me feel really sad, I almost cried. But I didn't find the film really fun and refreshing. I can't comment of the English dub because I watched it in subtitles.
Ivan D

Super Reviewer

May 21, 2010
definitely Isao Takahata's wildest visual expression, though its sentimental tone can still be compared to his other simplistic works("Grave of the Fireflies" and "Only Yesterday"). But these unusual choices of visual tones is one of the reasons why Studio Ghibli always delivers. The story, as what the title suggests, concerns cheerful raccoons and their crusade to put a stop on the housing development that will surely destroy their habitat. The plot might look very familiar, but be reminded that it's a Ghibli film, so the plot may remain intact, but the imagery may go the surrealist side from time to time . I liked the way how Takahata uses different appearances of the raccoons: Their first one which is how us humans perceive their physical form, and the other one is how they see themselves: Joyful, optimistic, and sometimes reckless. "The Raccoon War" is a very entertaining film, but with Isao Takahata hitting two birds with one stone, has also able to create a poetic ode to the pure beauty of nature and its bumbling inhabitants living in mutual harmony.
Marcus W

Super Reviewer

November 10, 2007
The tone of this film is very similiar to Happy Feet but with ten times more imagination. Therefore you're enjoying yourself with the wonderful visuals and characters WHILE being told that cutting down forests and polluting rivers is bad.
Alex F

Super Reviewer

April 10, 2008
Hehehe. They have balls. Another wonderful ecologist movie by the Ghibli people. Not perfect because it's a bit too long, but it's amazing anyway.
May 31, 2008
Very, very, very strange. And of course the whole magical-ball/scrotum thing is weirdest of all... but once you get over that, it's a fun, sometimes sad sometimes very (yes) heartwarming story of these shape-shifting raccoons (or 'Tanuki') who are trying to fight for their land from being destroyed. Next to Tokyo? You don't say! Beautiful animation, especially inspired and delightful when the raccoons do their BIG parade of crazy crap in the middle of the city, and the narration from Maurice LaMarche (yes, Brain from Pinky and the Brain) works more often than not. Surprises me most of all that this is from the director of 'Grave of the Fireflies'. Guess he just wanted to have fun here, though not without a heavy-duty environmental message via Studio Ghibli (from Hayao MIyazaki? You also don't say).

I'm not entirely sure I can recommend it to, you know, a newcomer to the studio's works. It's at times just so leaps off from anything bound to reality (well, hey, talking 'Tanuki', you gotta go with it from there) that you just got to stick with it. Some of the comedy is very funny, some of it just feels odd, especially with the English translation (some folks like JK Simmons and John Dimaggio provide good voice-work too). It's like hearing a long but involving story from a friendly source, who in the end turns out to be someone who makes the story more profound and striking than it would have been otherwise. It's clever, trippy, and kids will be perplexed but may love it for its subversive quality. I mean, seriously, their scrotum are showing - but nothing else, so for Disney, it's okay (as opposed to Only Yesterday, which has a brief conversation about menstruation, but I digress).
July 18, 2012
Man, this is an unusual film. It's presented like an animated documentary on raccoons battling to keep their land from encroaching human developers. But the thing is the raccoons can transform into ANYTHING. There are just so many quirky little inclusions that I know this script would never have been filmed in the Hollywood system.
I just found myself sitting there grinning because of how strange the experience of watching this was.
January 28, 2012
Only in Japanese anime and culture can you really get a way with a movie staring a raccoon race in a struggle to survive against humanity. Pom Poko has a lot of endearing and funny moments that really made me enjoy the film. Although it drags a little but I recommend this movie to people fan of animated movies or anime in general, but not many aside from that.
March 10, 2010
This movie is a ploy off japanese folklore, which although well done wasn't quite my cup of tea. It was well done though, so realize my rating on this one reflects more my personal opinion rather than the quality of the actual film.
November 12, 2008
Another great Studio Ghibli. You might want to familiarize yourself with Japanese folklore before you see this one, or it might be too confusing.
August 3, 2008
a bit weird, but cute.

The Raccoon Song:
Child: Mr. Raccoon, Mr. Raccon, won't you play with me somehow?
Raccoon: No i can't, i'm eating dinner now.
Child: What's for dinner, I want some
Raccoon: I am eating Pickled Plums
Child: Can't I have a little crumb?
Raccoon: Don't be such a greedy bum GET YOUR OWN
September 1, 2008
My absolute favorite Ghibli film, and for good reason. This contains genitalia shapeshifters, party-down raccoons, and laugh-out-loud moments involving the great battle between humans and umm..... they.
June 26, 2007
Not only a great film for the anime lover but also a turtor on the effects of deforestation and an Advocte of enviornmental preservation
June 12, 2007
Isao Takahata's lavishly animated comedy-drama about raccoons fighting for their forest may be a little too foreign and confusing for casual viewers, but its gorgeous artwork and meaningful story make it a must-see for Studio Ghibli fans. Aside from Jonathan Taylor Thomas, the Disney dub casts performers known for their typical cartoon acting; including the great Tress MacNeille, all who give their characters a lively, yet natural spirit. The difficult translation by writers Cindy and Donald H. Hewitt (which includes making the Japanese folk songs in the movie work for English speaking audiences) is outstanding to behold.
May 5, 2007
(Viewed Japanese Version) Leave it to a Ghibli production to expertly run the gamut between wondrously silly and crushingly sad. By the way, they're raccoon-dogs, not raccoons.
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