The Order of Ghiblis #12 - Pom Poko
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Pom Poko (1994)
A community of magical shape-shifting tanuki struggle to prevent their forest home from being destroyed by urban development.
Pom Poko follows a community of Japanese raccoon dogs (Tanuki) living in the forest of the outskirts of Japan. It starts in the 60s with one development, and then continues in the 1990's. The story is pretty loose as it progresses through time, with some ongoing characters developing among the tanuki but it's more about the overall story as opposed to the characters.
The story from the point of the tanuki is about anti-development, recycling, and being kind to the planet, which is a common theme in Ghibli, but brought into a more real world setting here. The tanuki can be strange and magical creatures, they are able to transform into other items and people, and they use these powers in multiple ways to try and aid their cause. As time goes on they use these powers to turn into humans, and try and integrate into human society, leaving those behind who cannot transform.
Pom Poko is so weird.
The theme is interesting and it does try and convey a great message to be nice to wildlife, and be kind to the planet. But the pacing is odd for a 2 hour movie, and the characters within the movie sort of drop in and out so it's a bit tough to follow. It's like a documentary about a real event, but the tanuki are magic, and have huge magical ballsacks (not joking).
Overall, it's an interesting movie, and is definitely different, so probably worth a watch, but we would struggle to recommend it to most, and it is definitely one of the weaker among the Ghibli catalogue.
In fact, it doesn't jump up any spots, staying below Nausicaa as our new last place (which again, doesn't make it a bad movie, just, in relation to the fantastic Ghibli movies).
NEW FULL ORDER
1. My Neighbour Totoro
2. Kiki's Delivery Service
3. Laputa Castle in the Sky
4. Whisper of the Heart
5. Howl's Moving Castle
7. Grave of the Fireflies
8. Cat Returns
10. My Neighbours the Yamadas
11. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
12. [NEW] Pom Poko