Pom Poko is a 1994 Japanese Animated film from the repertoire of Studio Ghibli. Directed by Isao Takahata, this one might have racoons as its heroes but hits you right in the feels.
While it’s not as fast paced as all the Japanese action anime shows of today, Pom Poko is a beautiful long film that reminds us just how messed up the world has become because of the speedy development us humans seek everywhere.
The film starts off with a happy children’s song and raccoons hunting for food in a lush countryside setting. But the green surroundings that they spend blissful evenings in, is invaded by monstrous machines meant to cut down trees to make way for modern residential buildings.
The raccoons of Pom Poko are no ordinary animals, but have the power to shape-shift. And they want to save their habitat from being annihilated by rapid industrial development. The idea is inspired from Japanese folklore about how some raccoons turn into humans during the season of spring and sing songs.
With the help of some experienced raccoons, all the young ones begin to train to shape-shift into humans. They then try all kinds of tricks to stop the construction work that is eating away their home-land. What follows is hilarity, craziness and a clash of two worlds.
This film is adorable and all the animal characters are ‘oh so cute’. But I felt a sense of desolation throughout the movie and that is kudos to the makers, for being able to make the viewer see the despair of mute animals, whose homes are cleared every day by projects involving deforestation.
Pom Poko is a shadow war between innocent animals and cunning humans. And what’s truly beautiful about this Ghibli creation is that despite the plot involving a lot of fantasy & fun, it it manages to be real and grim at the same time.
I cannot remember the last time an animated film moved me so much. Except for the fact that some viewers may think that Pom Poko’s pace is rather slow, this one is a gem.
Also, towards the end, things get a little bizarre and outlandish, just like most Ghibli films. But that’s what I like about them!