Pompoko (Japan 1994)

Rating: **
Alternate Title: Heisei Tanuki Wars, The Raccoon War
Review Date: 9/20/01

One of the more bizarre anime titles I've seen. This cautionary tale from Studio Ghibli takes a load of ecological propaganda and presents it as a sugar coated kids movie. A residential construction project starts destroying the habitat of the local raccoons, and they finally decide to unite and fight back. In Japanese folklore, foxes and raccoons are pranksters and have the ability to transform themselves, so the raccoons start an exhaustive training program to hone their transformation skills. In particular, the male raccoons can perform some amazing transformation stunts with their testicles. Oh my... The raccoons sabotage the construction site and try to scare the people away, but the humans always come back - and in greater numbers. It seems that no matter how hard they try, all of their efforts are for naught, and the futility of their actions is heartbreaking. With his dying breath, one of the great raccoons finally realizes "we are no match for humans..." How true. However, being a light-hearted kids tale, it does have a semi-happy ending and concludes with the remaining raccoons singing and dancing in the forest, as raccoons should.