Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Pom Poko

Image credit: The Mighty Ape
It’s a delightful, dark, and overcast afternoon here in the world of wonder that is my living room, so how did my partner and I decide to while away a few hours? With a movie, of course! I am very excited that Netflix now has the whole Studio Ghibli repertoire because it means that I can finally sit down and watch all those classics that I’ve not yet seen. This afternoon’s choice was Pom Poko.

This cute, Watership Down-esque, eco-awareness movie tells the story of a colony of raccoons whose forest is being torn down to make way for various housing developments. Desperate, the raccoons revitalise their ancient tradition of shape-shifting and transformation in the hope to trick, scare, and stop the humans from destroying their home any further.

This would have to one of the cute, but strangest Studio Ghibli movies that I’ve yet seen. It was interesting in that it reminded me of so many other things: as I mentioned, there was a distinct Watership Down vibe, which then turned into a cute Disney-esque, Bambi/Milo & Otis romp, and then morphed yet again into a Wes Anderson type of deal a la Isle of Dogs. The story, told mostly in voice-over narration to indicate that all this happened years ago, is a bittersweet tale of forest devastation, eco-demolition, and the hope for a change of heart and preservation. The film tackles these themes well, making them more accessible to its younger audience with its cute and cartnooish animation and characters.

Image credit: Pom Poko GOOGLE DRIVE -overblog
However, I found that while the story itself was simple and straightforward, it was a little challenging because none of the film’s characters had any sort of driving role at any point in the duration. A lot of characters are introduced; a whole motley crew that could have proven to be a fun and eccentric group together, but no characters really got any development and therefore it was kind of hard to follow who everyone was and why they got more screen time than others.

Pom Poko is definitely different and sweet, but I definitely don’t think that it’s a Ghibli classic, certainly not one that I would watch again for a while at least.

Director: Isao Takahata, 1994

Cast (English): Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Clancy Brown, J. K. Simmons, Tress MacNeille, Kevin Michael Richardson, John DiMaggio, Andrew Stojka, Brian Posehn, Wally Kurth, Olive d’Abo, Brian George, Jess Harnell, Jillian Bown, Russi Taylor, and Maurice LaMarche

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