Posted by psgels on 23 October 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews


Pom Poko belongs to the collection of animations and movies, meant to raise awareness about environmental problems. In this case: raccoons, who see their territories shrink by the minute, due to humans and their need of new homes. The links to studio Ghibli are obvious: they take the myths about how Raccoons are able to transform and change their shape, and create a unique culture for these little animals, who try to do something against the humans, despite their carefree nature.

The thing is, though, that the environmental messages may be good for children and others new to these kinds of problems, but for me, I felt like I’ve seen things like these a bit too many times in other movies, commercials and documentaries. The true reason you should watch this anime is because of the raccoons themselves. They’re quite hilarious with their short attention-spans, and it’s especially interesting how they’re portrayed in a human-like way. I especially loved how the newbies tried to practice transforming.

Because of this, the first half of the movie is a lot of fun to watch. There’s a lot of detail put in the dialogue, and a nice balance of comedy and drama. I wish I could say the same about the second half, though. Incidentally, the one who directed this movie was Isao Takahata, who also did Only Yesterday. Both movies felt like they’ve gone on for a tad too long. It’s a shame: the guy clearly has lots of talent, and his eye for realism is astonishing, but his direction really drags on a bit too much at times.

The second half of Pom Poko falls victim to this. It’s just too… one-sided, and feels like I’ve seen it many times before. Granted, this movie is already about fifteen years old, but I don’t really think that the issue at hand was very new at the premiere-date either. There are also a few story-inconsistencies here and there: at one time when a raccoon is injured from a small accident, he remains in bondages for a full year. Then when he’s hit the next time, he stands up and goes on like nothing happened.

One thing that I do have to praise this movie for is that it isn’t afraid to address death. Despite the fact that this movie is aimed at children, with its carefree nature, both humans and raccoons end up losing their lives. Overall, this really is a Ghibli-movie. The animation is very detailed and full of creativity, a lot of attention has been put into the dialogue. It’s just a pity that the lacklustre second half prevented this to become a classic.

4 Responses

  1. Avatar DiGiKerot says:

    I remember seeing this at a cinema screening back in 2001, and at the time I can out of it being underwhelmed – basically, it was not only my least favourite Ghibli movie ever, I actually disliked it.

    Six years later, and the situation has changed – but only because Ghibli churned out Howls Moving Castle. I hate that movie way more than I hate Pom Poko.

    Still, Pom Poko is the only Ghibli movie I don’t own on DVD. I think that’s rather telling.

  2. Avatar Wyrdwad says:

    Wow, a review of Pom Poko that DIDN’T contain the word “testicle” somewhere. Bravo! (:

    -Tom

  3. Avatar asdf says:

    they’re not raccoons, but tanuki, like the tanuki suit in super mario brothers

  4. Avatar Firechick says:

    Ugh. I had to watch this for a college class, and…I honestly hated it. All of the raccoons sans a select few were extremely mean spirited making it impossible to care about their plight, that durned narrator just refused to shut up, there’s an unnecessary scene where little kids are reading a porn magazine (Really, Takahata?), the moral was completely forced and it kept being shoved down my throat, and the viewers know their whole struggle is pointless as the humans are going to win anyway, so…why should we care about these tanuki? And it dragged on for WAAAY too long. I couldn’t stand it. Definitely the worst of Ghibli’s works for me.

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