Pom Poko — ★★★★
Yesterday, Sunday the 17th, was my birthday, so I requested that we spend the evening watching a Blu-Ray that’s been sitting here unopened for a few months. Hold on to your hats — it’s Japan-related. Ghibli, specifically. It was the most famous Isao Takahata movie I hadn’t seen yet, Pom Poko (1994).
It’s somehow both the weirdest and the most straightforward Ghibli, barring a surprise among the remaining three features I haven’t seen. The environmental themes that inspire the studio’s filmmakers have never closer to the surface than in Pom Poko, but the elaborate history of the anthropomorphic tanuki (tanuki are basically mythologized raccoons) is really quite bizarre even when you recognize every Japanese element of the story. And it’s very Japanese, especially an amazing parade sequence toward the end of the movie. It easily entered my Flickchart top 100, as most Ghiblis do.
No full review now — I’ll save my thoughts for a Flickchart piece or, more likely, a Ghibli podcast that I hope to do with an online friend. But it was a great choice for my birthday viewing!