Ghibli Challenge #7 (And BONUS ROUND) – Pom Poko (And REDLINE)

Redline, the Madhouse anime film, is making its round in the States with a couple screenings here and there. The NYC one was on Friday and I skipped out on work early (probably with some consequences to face me later on this weekend…) and caught a late matinee, and that gave me enough time for a quick bite before catching the subbed version of Ghibli’s Pom Poko during prime time.

So, yeah, that Mexican truck just up the street from the IFC Center…not too shabby with reasonable prices! I’d recommend it. Or maybe I’m just weak against a nice, piping fresh tamale.

Anyway; Pom Poko is probably the most cartoony film with Miyazaki’s name to it, to me. It’s a goofy story about animals that behave like human beings. About their conflicts with actual human beings. It’s kind of trippy in that the humans in the show acts in ways, by the time you’re neck-deep in the film, that betray their humanity. It almost seemed the Tanuki clans are more human than human. Only if they were androids or some such.

I’ll leave the eco-preaching (to be fair, it really isn’t preach as much as directly saying it to your face) and grinding of inaka value into dirty, evil, material and inhuman urban values to people with things to grind against. I’m just going to say that this is also possibly the funniest and ballsiest Ghibli film. And unlimited pun works is in full play.

I mean it takes some special kind of “kintama” to make a film basically decrying the urban sprawl and irresponsible transformation of Japan’s hilly urualscape in the name of serving the expanding population. The whole only-humans-kill-tanuki thing is kind of like Proco Rosso’s srsbzns about war and fascism, versus pirates and bounty hunters actually shooting machine guns at each other. Indeed, they are not fighting a war. Or are they? This pacifist but actually physically violent sort of thing is a consistent Ghibli imagery. So instead of beating up humans, the Tanuki should take a cue from Wikipedia and post some really sad looking faces on website to solicit money to buy out land for a conservation?

I just call this the fundamental driving mentality behind what is more commonly called “soft power.” Is soft power dangerous? Does it even work?  See, I like that narrative–the Tanuki go and do their magic things, wow humans, but some guy just takes all the credit. Is this kind of like the animated work that Ghibli (or pre-Ghibli) did for oversea works and they get no credit? It’s kind of ironic but at least it fits properly. How about the foxes? Are they those Japanese people who has turned their backs on their countrymen and tries to make a profit on it?

There’s all kinds of reads into this film. It’s ballsy. But unfortunately it’s also kind of all over the place. That’s on top of how half the humor doesn’t come through unless you also have the cultural background; albeit it is already funny as is to this gaijin.

Switching gears, Madhouse’s Redline is fluid, 21st century animation. I don’t know, it’s kind of like dipping your eyeballs into this crystal clear, sugary solution that cools the soul and tickles it dizzy. I still find the middle portion of the film dull (basically the segment after you see Sonoshee’s tits until the cars drop from the spaceship), but the big screen presentation blows the Blu-ray presentation away. It’s just incredible, and I highly recommend it if you are remotely interested in some of the best animation last decade has to offer.

The seventh (and maybe 8th?) so-called challenge is a part of an end-of-year festivity among some anime bloggers. You can find out more about the Ghibli theatrical road show from GKIDS and Redline from Anchor Bay.

2 Responses to “Ghibli Challenge #7 (And BONUS ROUND) – Pom Poko (And REDLINE)”

  • mt-i


    I see what you did there.

    But yeah, for the most part, I agree, Pom Poko is a really funny and enjoyable watch (even for me!).

    (Not terribly tempted to try Redline out, however, as it seems like it would press all the wrong buttons afaic; and I’m not really a fan of “animation” per se either).

  • omo

    Yeah, I don’t think you’ll enjoy it. In a way Redline’s message straddles the line a little too much for too long to infer strongly either way. It just comes out like a fairly tepid action story vehicle.


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