In a Land of Pure Imagination
Urbanization has been eating away at the natural habitat of the tanuki, or Japanese racoon dogs. As their living situation grows increasingly dire, the tanuki defend their home against further destruction, with the help of their magical shape-shifting abilities.
Adorable Child Awesome Grownups Alert
Tanuki ages are weird. They can live to be a thousand years old, and the ones I thought were children had babies right away. So instead, let’s look at the characters on the other end of the spectrum, whose ages are easier to discern.
There’s Oroku, the wise old woman who always has style for miles.
Seizaemon the guru helps to teach the younger generations how to shape-shift, um, creativity. (More on this later.)
Finally, this group of tanuki consults a trio of elders from another community for help.
Lovable Anthropomorphic Sidekicks
Um. They’re ALL anthropomorphic. (And they’re visually depicted in three styles. Their form is reflective of the kind of situations the tanuki are in — realistic, cartoony, and anthropomorphic, for everything else in between.)
And they all do lovable things like playing belly drums.
Not to mention their shapeshifting ability!
Now you’re just trolling me, movie. So the tanuki’s testicles are pretty integral to their folklore; there’s even a nursery rhyme about them. And Pom Poko gives those bad boys plenty of screen time.
They’re also super versatile. As carpets:
And as parachutes:
Also, the tanuki’s clothing choices are really arbitrary — like how Mickey Mouse only wears pants, and Donald Duck only wears shirts. I don’t really know why some lady tanuki wear tops and some don’t. Then again, the tanuki obviously have no problems with their bodies.
I actually watched a subbed version — none of that sanitized ‘pouch’ nonsense in the Disney dub. (Although I’m sure Disney didn’t do the subtitles I watched, since someone gets called an asshole.)
As for the aforementioned dub, its cast features:
- Maurice LaMarche (THE BRAIN!) as the Narrator
- Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Shoukichi
- J.K. Simmons as Seizaemon
- Tress MacNeille as Oroku
- Clancy Brown (Mr. Krabs) as Gonta
- Jess Harnell (Animaniacs‘ Wakko) as Inugami Gyobu
- Brian Posehn as Hayashi
- John DiMaggio (Bender!) as Ryutaro
- Olivia d’Abo (Kevin Arnold’s older sister, plus Ten on Batman Beyond) as Koharu
- Russi Taylor (the reigning Minnie Mouse, Martin and Sherri and Terri on The Simpsons) as Otama
Class Superlative: Most Exhibitionistic
This movie is part folklore, part nature doc, and part plea for nature conservation. But the part in which the tanuki are so very anatomically correct overshadows everything else. It definitely requires a rewatch, now that I’ve gotten the big distraction out of my system.