Raccoons, the Environmental Warriors
On the outskirts of Tokyo live the Tanuki a breed of raccoon with shape shifting capabilities who have lived alongside humans in secret harmony for many years. That is until the humans start destroying the homes of the Tanuki as urban sprawl leads to man building homes everywhere. It forces the Tanuki to take desperate action and seek out a grandmaster to teach them how to hone their shape shifting skills so they can turn themselves into humans in their attempts to prevent the destruction and development of the countryside and their homes.
In the real world it takes balls to take on the system in a David and Goliath battle and maybe the team from Studio Ghibli wanted to highlight this because these Tanuki have balls, seriously these creatures have cajones and they are clear to see. It takes you by surprise but then makes you laugh. But that is not the only thing which will make you laugh whilst watching "Pom Poko" as it is full of wit and amusing observations as well as being comically creativity as these cute shape shifters get up to all manner of stuff in trying to prevent the destruction of their homes.
That is one of the reasons why "Pom Poko" is so good as it makes you smile and not just through the humour but it also has that hypnotic quality of the best Studio Ghibli animations, that ability to draw you in with the quirky whilst charming you through the characters and then as if you were child mesmerising you with its ability to tell a story. The daft thing is that "Pom Poko" is not subtle in hitting you with its message as we are told all about the dangers of destroying nature to cater for the expanding population but it somehow makes us listen and pay attention to what is being said despite having heard it all before.
Now there is more to "Pom Poko" than what I mentioned in that synopsis as the story evolves and to be fair the first half of the animation is superior to the second half. But that doesn't mean the second half is weak and is as mesmerising as the first half, full of story and fantastic artistry. That is again one of the joys of "Pom Poko" as it confronts you with so much beauty and detail that you forget you are watching an animation.
What this all boils down to is that "Pom Poko" may not be subtle in getting across its message but it is beautiful and has that hypnotic quality which makes the movies from Studio Ghibli more than just animations.