Amazon.com Isao Takahata’s outré ecological fable Pom Poko was 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 Product Description Walt Disney Home Entertainment Presents A Studio Ghibli Film. POM POKO is a tale of the clash between modern civilization and the natural world. The Raccoons of the Tama Hills are being forced from their homes by the rapid development of houses and shopping malls. As it becomes harder to find food and shelter, they decide to band together and fight back. The Raccoons practice and perfect the ancient art of transformation until they are even able to appear as humans. In often hilarious ways, the Raccoons use their powers to try to scare off the advancement of civilization. But will it be enough? Or will the Raccoons learn how to live in balance with the modern world? Celebrate the magic of the forest and the beauty of the creatures who live among us in POM POKO - on DVD for the first time ever.~(c)1994 Hatake Jimusho GNH (c)Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc.~~
distributed through Walt Disney Studio
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A great movie but questionably useful
This is another great (and less well-known in the US) Studio Ghibli film, but the subject may be a bit Japan-specific for use in K-12 schools. The story is about a clan of tanuki ("racoon dogs" being the usual translation - some kids may be familiar with tanuki because of the "raccoon suit" that has made appearances in several Super Mario video games). The tanuki have decided to start fighting back against humans who are developing new residential areas that are overtaking the animals' habitat, and in fact the animals play some "tricks" that probably lead humans to die, just as the animals do. The English dub glosses over the cultural issue of the tanuki testicles by calling them "pouches", but any image of a tanuki statue, a common sight in Japanese villages and towns, or online cartoons/drawings may be a bit more obvious in their anatomical depictions.