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Pom Poko
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 08/07/2003

For centuries raccoons have lived in the mountains, hills, and forests peacefully. But the human population is growing, and the need for additional housing has spurred the destruction of the raccoons' natural habitat. Enraged by the recent developments, the raccoons decide to re-train themselves in the art of transformation. Raccoons are naturally endowed with the ability to change their forms; they just need to hone their skills so that they can do so effectively. Soon the raccoons gain the ability to transform into anything... from everyday objects to people.
I normally dislike animal-oriented films, and the only reason why I purchased the Pom Poko DVD was because it was a Studio Ghibli production and I have this thing about collecting Studio Ghibli's releases.
Pom Poko would seem like your typical humans vs. animals type of film, but it's so uniquely done that it becomes much more than that. The raccoons are so determined to save their home that they master the art of transformation, wreaking havoc on the construction sites. Soon, people begin to think that the whole project is cursed and/or the sites are haunted. In the meantime, the raccoons keep themselves updated on the latest news via a television set that they had found in a dump. The mood is relatively light at first, but as the raccoons become more aggressive in their campaign, casualties start piling up. Pom Poko tells two sides of a story from a raccoon's perspective. Both the racoons and the humans have valid reasons for their actions, and one can actually sympathize with everyone concerned.
Perhaps the strangest thing about Pom Poko is the constant reference to the male raccoon's balls, which can supposedly be stretched and manipulated to take on various shapes and forms. I find that there isn't really anything objectionable about this but of course whether or not younger children should see it would best be left to the parent's discretion.
Like almost every other Studio Ghibli release, Pom Poko dazzles us with crisp, vibrant, and finely rendered visuals. I especially appreciated the detail that went into each scene, like how realistic the construction vehicles were, how lush and fresh the natural landscape looked, etc. The music came off as somewhat understated throughout the show but fitting all the same.
Pom Poko takes a serious theme and makes a story that everyone can relate to out of it. One can't help but be interested and entertained since pacing is brisk and there are a lot of amusing twists. What's even more admirable is that it leaves some food for thought afterwards without detracting from one's overall enjoyment of the film. Highly recommended for children and adults alike.
Pom Poko is about 2 hours in length. I watched and reviewed the official R3 version.

Pom Poko
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Review Title:
Pom Poko
Alternative Titles:
Heisei Tanuki Gassen Ponpoko
110 Minutes
General Rating:
4.5 out of 5 stars
Suitable For:
Older Children
Adventure, Comedy
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