Pom Poko

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Pom Poko is a 1994 Japanese animated comedy-drama fantasy film directed by Isao Takahata, animated by Studio Ghibli for Tokuma Shoten, Nippon Television Network and Hakuhodo, and distributed by Toho.


One day, an urgent report interrupted Gonta's training at headquarters. He hurried home to the Takaga Woods to face tragedy. [Gonta arrives at the edge of a hill, and is greeted by the sight of miles of barren wasteland, with only a bulldozer and an excavator sitting where the woods had been] More than half his childhood home had already been ravaged by destruction. [Gonta stares in horror. He lets out a howl of despair] Gonta went mad with grief.

However, Hayashi-san wasn't good at transformation techniques, and was shaken by a dump truck, and as he fainted, he returned to his original tanuki form.

They used their balls as weapons in a brave kamikaze attack.

I'm impressed by the humans. It takes stamina to live the way they do.

I now have a desk job, while my wife Kiyo works at a snack bar.


I'm starting to get nervous. What if our little pranks aren't doing any good at all? What if the humans leveled the entire forest? Then where are we gonna go? Maybe Gonta's right. The only way to stop them is to get violent. I don't want to have to hurt any more humans. It just doesn't seem right to me. But what if they won't stop? Then what? "To be, or not to be?"

Back then, all I thought about was transforming. I never dreamed that my friend Ponkichi might just want to be a normal raccoon.


Raccoons! This war has just begun. We won't stop attacking until we've battered, pulverized and squeezed to death every last human in Tama Hills! [He emphatically crushes and twists his empty beer can and hurls it to the ground]

The world is crawling with humans! Like roaches! We need to destroy as many as we can!!

What good did it do? You idiots. You think that will stop the developers? Don't just frighten them. We need to hurt them. Inflict some serious pain! [He waves his arm around, forgetting it's still injured, then stops and doubles over in pain]

"Ferry us back to an era of greatness". We were idiots to think those old geezers could help us in the first place.


[chanting] Blue! Blue! Kill the red! Red! Red! Knock blue dead! It doesn't matter which side wins, you're all still going to lose! Kill 'em all, who cares whose side is whose? Red may lose today, but blue will lose tomorrow! There are too many with nowhere to burrow! When you win the battle, where do you plan to stay? While you all were fighting, the forest went away! Red will lose tomorrow and blue will lose today! [She moves in between Seizaemon and Gonta, who are in the middle of a fight, and as she chants, she turns to face both of them. Both military leaders look at Oroku in astonishment. Seizaemon grimaces; Gonta gapes, wide-eyed] Slaughter everybody, kill as many as you can! Wipe each other out, that's part of our plan! Massacre, annihilate, shoot down the ranks! [A few yards away two tanuki have stopped fighting and are dancing to Oroku's beat] Do us this favor and we'll give you our thanks! It's about time our numbers shrank! Those of us remaining must keep our families small! Have another cub and you will lose it all! The forest is shrinking at such a rapid rate! We must act soon, let's hope it's not too late!

Lesser forms of transformation, such as changing color, can be achieved by chameleons, for example. But the true art of transforming can only be practiced by foxes, raccoons and a few cats. [Gonta's loud snoring disrupts Oroku's lecture] Gonta! [The red army leader, who is sitting in the front row, wakes up startled and sits upright, assuming the clothes of a police officer. His position is tense and his fur stands on end] The fact that you were able to change your appearance like that means you've already mastered the rudimentary techniques of transformation. [Gonta relaxes, changing back into his normal form, as though exhaling, and sits in embarrassed silence, blinking dumbly at Oroku]

When I said go out into the world and make some money, I did not mean it literally!

The forests of Tama Hills are our home. So you can't keep destroying them all! This plea is from every living creature in the forest.


[to the viewer] Uh, hello. Many of you have probably heard someone on the news saying how animals are disappearing because of development. I don't think that's quite accurate. It's true that some raccoons can transform and disappear, although... what about things like rabbits and badgers? They can't transform, so where do they go? [Ponkichi looks over at his dancing friends, glances one more time at the viewer, then runs to join the group]


[Osho is patiently teaching a class to the young raccoons]
Osho: A raccoon fell out of the tree! Yes, that's right. Who can tell me *why* the raccoon fell out of the tree? Gonta?
Gonta: [stoutly] He was a loser. I wouldn't have fallen.

[A policeman walks down the streets with his bicycle, and sees a woman crying on the street]
Policeman: Is something wrong, miss? [He walks closer to her] What's the trouble? [The woman looks up at the policeman. Her face is pretty and made up. The policeman looks startled. The woman buries her face in her hands and continues crying. She then starts laughing maniacally, and turns around, erasing her face]
Female Tanuki: [turning around] I have no face! [The policeman screams]
Policeman: Monster! [He bolts off down the street. The female tanuki, growing her face back, gets up and takes the policeman's bicycle. She rides beside the policeman with a smug expression. She erases her face again. He screams again. In terror, he fires his gun, scaring the tanuki and causing her to pass out in the middle of the road]

[English dub; A crowd of tanuki jubilantly carries Gonta. As he is bounced up and down on a sea of hands, Gonta laughs and cheers]
Tanuki: [singing] Moon, moon, moon shine bright/ Moon shine bright, so bright and long/ Shine, shine, shine on Gonta/ Pom poko pom pom, pom pom pom!
Osho and Oroku: [singing] You show the world what we can do...
Front Crowd of Tanuki: We have the greatness of Oroku, too!
Tanuki: [singing] All our friends are cheering for you, that's the truth, we adore you/ Hail to Gonta, he's our god!/ Pom poko pom pom, pom pom pom!
[As a man reads the news on TV, the Tanuki chant Gonta's name in the background]
Newsreader: ... Nevertheless, a government spokesman stressed that the people of Tokyo are in such desperate need of living accomodations, that the new Tama development project will not be delayed, despite today's tragic accidents.
[The outraged tanuki stop in their tracks and drop Gonta. They rush over to the TV, trampling the red army leader in the process, and crowd around it, rapt and outraged. Gonta lies on the floor in pain, his leg twitching]
Narrator: It was, needless to say, an unfortunate accident. Gonta, the mastermind behind the dangerous attacks against the humans, now suffered multiple fractures and internal injuries, that would take nearly a year to heal.

Gonta: See? Just wasting time.
Seizaemon: But if we went out into the world and started attacking the humans, they're going to turn on us and wipe us out.

Ponkichi: Are you going to put a leaf on your head?
Oroku: That's for beginners!

Gonta: As the old saying goes, when a mouse is cornered, he will bite a cat.
Female Tanuki 1: Uh... He's a mouse?
Female Tanuki 2: He is not a mouse.
Shokichi: He means that if we're desperate enough, we can beat anyone.
Gonta: That's right. When a mouse is cornered, he can find the strength to defeat a cat. That's what I said.
Female Tanuki 3: But we're not mice, though.
Male Tanuki 1: Why would we want to beat up a cat, y'know?
Male Tanuki 2: I'm starved. Sure would like to have a mouse to eat right about now.
Male Tanuki 3: A good mouse tempura can't be beat.
Osho: Not true. Plain deep fried is better.
Male Tanuki 4: I don't know. I think the tempura batter is what really makes it.
Male Tanuki 5: The thought of the crispy tail makes my mouth water.
[The Tanuki all sigh. Gonta stares back and forth, bewildered, across the crowd]
Gonta: WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH ALL OF YOU?! [He changes into his ultra simplified form and sings] I say a mouse tempura is the best one, yes it is!

Newsman: Basic housing supply is urgent and indispensable for 10 million citizens, and because of this, it is impossible to reconsider development of New Tama.
[The tanuki, who were celebrating Gonta's victory and holding him up, hear the news. They drop Gonta in surprise]
Tanuki: Eh! What?
[The tanuki rush to the TV in droves, trampling Gonta in the process]
Narrator: It was an unexpected accident. I regret to inform you that Gonta Takagamori, who was a contributor to this operation, suffered a serious injury for one year due to complicated fractures and a ruptured internal organ.

First Drunk: I used to see stuff like that, too, when I was a kid. You know, monsters in the closet, that kind of thing.
Second Drunk: When you're young, it seems sur-surreal. I swore I saw these ghosts... dancing on my ceiling.
First Drunk: D'ahh, have another drink. You'll see them again. [The two men laugh]
Second Drunk: Isn't that weird? Now, why do you think you see that?
First Drunk: Do you think ghosts really exist?
Second Drunk: Huh? Don't be stupid. It's your brain playing tricks.
First Drunk: It must be... your brain plays tricks on you when you're young. Things like the boogeyman and monsters in the closet. They're all in your head. Because of... all the scary stories people tell you as a kid. It plants the seeds in your brain. So as a kid, you think it's real. [The second drunk laughs]
Second Drunk: Kids are suckers. Because, there's no way those ghost stories are real. Still, they frighten you half to death. Yep. The brain is scary that way. You think things, and then you see them, if they're real or not. Your ima... [He slowly turns around and sees a throng of strange creatures running across the sky] ... agination... [Shocked, he gets up from his seat and stares at the sky] There really are monsters out there.
First Drunk: [still oblivious] See? We talk about ghosts and then you start to see 'em.

Shoukichi: As soon as it's springtime, everybody goes crazy. All of a sudden they want to get married and have families. Nobody seems to remember Oroku's warning that we're not supposed to have any cubs. The second the sun hits their fur, they fall in love.
[He and Kiyo gaze into each other's eyes]
Shoukichi: But not us. You don't see us chasing after each other like we're lunatics. We can handle not getting married and not having cubs, don't you think?
Kiyo: Of course we can. I'm so pleased. It's just what I'd hoped you'd say. You're... wonderful.
[She embraces Shoukichi passionately]
Shoukichi: Yeah. We can hold off. I don't need to kiss, or cuddle, or rub noses or...
Kiyo: [eyes burning with desire] Oh, Shoukichi.
[She kisses him. She leans into Shoukichi, then he leans into her. They collapse onto the ground, causing butterflies to fly up from the grass]
Narrator: That was a mistake.

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