Wednesday In Japan
The second and third movie in the month long Loft collection of Studio Ghibli movies.
Pom Poko "Heisei Tanuki Gassen Ponpoko"
Isao Takahata 1994
A clan of Tanuki, Japanese raccoon dogs, in 1960 are threatened by a huge suburban development of New Tama outside of Tokyo, invading the forest countryside where they live.
To save their home the tanuki unite to stop the development, using their skill of transformation and illusion.
This Stuido Ghibli movie draws heavily from Japanese folklore of the Tanuki (and a certain part of the male tanuki) and the spirits who live among humans.
The very social, fun loving mischievous tanuki are able to use illusion or shape shifting to transform to practically any object to get what they want.
The tanuki are animated in three different styles, from their realistic form when seen by humans, cartoon style when doing something outrageous or anthropomorphic form when needed.
Beautifully animated, and with Studio Ghibli movies, nature is a major character. I especially loved the realistic takuki. There are many lovely parts in the first half of the movie but later on the fact that they are losing their mountain and countryside where they live poses the possibility of extinction becomes very real.
The Tanuki engage in a desperate struggle to stop the development and preserve their homes results in many deaths. Not a movie for the very young or even young but there is a lot of comedy along with sadness and many deaths.
This movie makes a very interesting point that modern day construction have to understand the how important our forests and countryside is and there there needs to be balance.
Two very important parts of this movie for me are when a Tanuki from another forest clan far away makes it to the New Tama development and looks over the destroyed mountain where the home are being built . He say "so they are destroying your mountain and dumping it on my mountain and destroying my home.
The second one is when the Tanuki realize they can't win they are exhausted, defeated and can not stop the construction. They all band together for one last great illusion. They temporarily transform the urban landscape into what it looked like just five years ago. This is a most beautiful illusion and no matter how many time I watch this movie I cry at this part every time.
There is no typical Disney happy ending but maybe a very slight hope of adaption.
A funny side note...
In the movie is Tanuki love to eat everything and a favorite dish is tempura. Especially mouse tempura, they love the crispy little tails the best !
There is a dish called, Tanuki Soba or racoon dog soba. Soba noodles are topped with tiny bits of deep fried tempura batter !
Really so good and thankfully NO mice !
Whispers of The Heart, Mimi wo Sumaseba
"If you listen Closely"
Yoshifumi Kondo 1995
Another "small" movie about everyday life with a series of curious incidences with a bit of magic tossed in for luck. This is a Studio Ghibli movie after all. Along with a fat cat named Moon !
Shizuku is a juniour high student spending her last summer before hight school reading as many books as she can and translating foreign music for her schools graduation. She is adrift not really knowing what or where she wants to go. She would love to write but hasn't the courage to really pursue it.
In Japan you have to take high school tests and then be placed in or interview for what high school you want to go to, so she should be studying and not drifting.
She meets another student, Seji who knows exactly what he wants to do with his life, becoming a violin maker.
Through a series of small adventures, some magical featuring the cat Moon, Seiji and his grandfather she finally realizes where she belongs.
My side note....
Another beautifully animated movie it made me very homesick for Japan.
The opening sequence is at a train station that reminded daughter and me of the station that was one of our stops in Nishiomiya. From the convience store that we always stopped at to all the shops along the road.
When Shizuku is riding the train to the next stop to see her father, she meets the train riding cat Moon for the first time, the view out the window looks just like surrounding hillside around Osaka !
The town is really based on Seiseki Sakuragoka, a hilly town in the Tama Hills west of Tokyo the same Tama Hills from the movie Pom Poko !
If I still had youngish children this would be on the summer movie must watch list.
A perfect summer movie !
One sad note.
This movie was the only full length movie by Hayao Miyazaki protege Yoshifumi Kondo before his sudden death at the age of 47.
hahahahaha and just because I can.