is easily Studio Ghibli's most maligned film, for self-evident reasons (MAGICAL RACCOON TESTICLES). And while it's a very, very strange movie... it deeply affected me.
Director Isao Takahata
is like if you took Hayao Miyazaki
, upped the Japanese factor 500%, and removed any shred of subtlety. His movies skip the sentimentality and hammer you with the point, and unlike the more worldly Miyazaki, his work is deeply, profoundly Japanese, sometimes to the point of incoherence to foreign viewers. He also has a tendency to tell, not show - Pom Poko
is largely narrated via voice-over when it could have shown what was happening instead.
But that's not criticism. I still loved Pom Poko
. For a lot of American viewers, the "magic scrotums" thing is a deal-breaker, and I can understand. But the movie's theme of impermanence is something that touches me personally, and by the end it left me very emotional.
Last year, some woods near my home were razed, forcing a lot of animals (including raccoons) into my neighborhood and conflict with humans. Dead house pets and roadkill have ensued. I'm kind of a tree-hugger to begin with, but the theme of habitat destruction, the idea that nothing lasts forever (not just woods, but homes, loved ones, and so on), well, it hits home. Pom Poko
means something to me personally.