Pom Poko

Darting across your street at night-it's a fugitive creature of the forest. What's it up to? Well, check your garbage and you'll know; it's a case of nature now having to survive off the bounty of man. Heisei tanuki gassen pompoko ("The Modern–Day Tanuki Battle (Goes) 'Tum–Tum'") lets you in on the whole conspiracy. The raccoon–like (they are actually canine) tanuki were once seen as shape-changing pranksters in Japanese myth. Now that the modern–day Japanese have thrown away their old myths, Pom Poko cleverly assigns to the tanuki themselves the role of keepers of Japan's earthy traditional peasant society. But Pom Poko is no solemn appeal to preserve some stuffed-and-mounted version of folk culture. Animators are themselves great tricksters, and Takahata goes manic in Pom Poko to give us a brand-new, alive-and-kicking legend of the tanuki-a wild, drunken festival of social satire where Japan's past and present try to out–hustle each other by any means necessary.

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