14 May 2014 10:43 AM, PDT | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

As part of the BFI’s Studio Ghibli Season, Simon Columb reviews Pom Poko

“Testicles play an important role in tanuki mythology” writes Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc when discussing Pom Poko. Directed by Isao Takahata, this is a far call from the deeply serious war story of Grave of the Fireflies. Rather than humans, Pom Poko tackles morphing racoons. These creatures, along with foxes and cats, have a long history in Japan whereby they’re playful, mischievous transformations is merely one trick, alongside their ability to expand their balls into enormous parachutes or rugs to sit upon. Studio Ghibli always manages to inform us of the fascinating stories embedded in Japanese culture – but, until a tanuki (the accurate name for these magical racoons) reveals that his entire tanuki-class is sitting on an outstretched scrotum, you never realise how culturally different it truly is.

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- Simon Columb

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