Animation Adventures

Preserving Nature and Tradition: A Look into Studio Ghibli’s Pom Poko

Pom Poko: A Story of the Tanuki

Japanese folklore is filled with mystical beings and creatures that have captivated audiences around the world. One such creature is the tanuki, a mischievous and shape-shifting raccoon-like creature that is often seen in anime, manga, and video games.

Recently, Studio Ghibli released a film called “Pom Poko,” which follows a group of tanuki as they attempt to save their forest from human development. In this article, we will take a closer look at the film’s synopsis, characters, themes, and overall impact.”Pom Poko” is a 1994 film directed by Isao Takahata and produced by Studio Ghibli.

It tells the story of a group of tanuki, who are faced with the threat of losing their forest home to human development. In an attempt to save their territory, the tanuki use their shape-shifting powers to scare away humans and thwart their efforts.

The film is both entertaining and thought-provoking, with a strong message about environmentalism and the importance of preserving natural habitats.


The story of “Pom Poko” takes place in the Tama Hills, a suburban area near Tokyo, Japan. The tanuki, who have lived in the forest for generations, are alarmed by the increasing human presence and destruction of their habitat.

They hold a meeting to discuss what to do, and it is revealed that the elder tanuki possess powerful shape-shifting abilities that they can use to fool and scare humans. The tanuki decide to use their powers to prevent the humans from taking over their forest.

They transform into terrifying monsters, causing accidents and destruction that the humans attribute to supernatural forces. However, their efforts are not enough, and the humans continue to encroach on their territory.

As the story progresses, the tanuki struggle with their decision to use violence and deception to protect their home. They realize that their powers are not enough to stop the humans, and that they may have to resort to more drastic measures.

In the end, their efforts fail, and the humans succeed in developing the land.


The film features an ensemble cast of tanuki, each with their own unique personalities and motivations. The main character is a young tanuki named Shoukichi, who is eager to defend his forest and people.

Other notable characters include Oroku, the wise elder who teaches the tanuki about their shape-shifting powers; Gonta, a hot-headed tanuki who is quick to fight; and Seizaemon, a humorous and resourceful tanuki who helps plan their tactics.


One of the main themes of “Pom Poko” is environmentalism and the importance of nature preservation. The film depicts the negative effects of human development, such as pollution, deforestation, and loss of habitat for wildlife.

It also highlights the need for humans and animals to coexist peacefully and find ways to live in harmony with nature. Another theme explored in the film is the idea of identity and how it shapes our actions.

The tanuki must decide whether to use their powers for good or evil, and struggle with the moral implications of their choices. They are faced with the question of whether they should continue to cling to their old ways or adapt to a changing world.


“Pom Poko” is regarded as one of Studio Ghibli’s most unique and thought-provoking films. It has won numerous awards and has been praised for its engaging storyline, memorable characters, and beautiful animation.

The film’s message about environmentalism and the importance of preserving natural habitats has resonated with audiences around the world.


In conclusion, “Pom Poko” is a film that explores important themes and issues in a compelling and entertaining way. The story of the tanuki and their struggle to protect their forest home is both engaging and thought-provoking.

The film’s message about environmentalism and the need for humans and animals to coexist harmoniously is as relevant today as it was when it was released in 1994. Overall, “Pom Poko” is a must-watch for fans of Japanese folklore, Studio Ghibli, and animated films in general.

“Pom Poko,” one of Studio Ghibli’s most thought-provoking films, tells the story of a group of tanuki who are forced to defend their forest home against human development and destruction. Although their shape-shifting powers allow them to transform into anything they want, the tanuki realize that they cannot win against the humans with brute force alone.

As the film progresses, the tanuki face new challenges and conflicts and must decide how far they are willing to go to save their home. One of the most significant conflicts in the film is between the younger and older generations of tanuki.

The younger tanuki are more aggressive and impulsive, eager to fight the humans and protect their forest at any cost. They feel that the older tanuki are too passive and slow to act, and that their methods are outdated and ineffective.

The older tanuki, on the other hand, are more cautious and reserved, warning the younger tanuki about the dangers of using their powers recklessly. They fear that the humans will only become more powerful and that violence will only bring more destruction.

This conflict between the younger and older generations is reflected in the characters of Shoukichi and Oroku, two of the main tanuki in the film. Shoukichi is a young and optimistic tanuki who wants to protect his home and people.

He is willing to do whatever it takes to stop the humans, even if it means using violence and deception. Oroku, on the other hand, is an elder tanuki and the spiritual leader of the group.

He is wise and thoughtful, advising caution and careful planning instead of hasty action. The conflict between the younger and older generations is just one of the many themes explored in “Pom Poko.” Another important theme is the idea of identity and how it shapes our actions.

The tanuki are forced to confront their own identity and decide whether to stay true to their old ways or adapt to a changing world. They struggle to find a balance between their desire to preserve their traditions and their need to protect their home.

The film asks us to consider how our identity influences our actions and decisions, and whether it is possible to change without losing ourselves in the process. “Pom Poko” also explores the complex relationship between humans and nature.

The humans in the film are not portrayed as villains, but rather as indifferent and unaware of the impact of their actions. They are seen as a force of progress and development, blindly pursuing their goals without considering the consequences.

The tanuki, meanwhile, represent the natural world and the delicate balance between humans and animals. By portraying these two worlds in conflict, the film asks us to consider our own relationship with nature and to reflect on the impact of our actions.

Despite its serious themes and message, “Pom Poko” is also a whimsical and entertaining film that showcases the creativity and imagination of Studio Ghibli. The film features a variety of memorable characters and scenes, from the playful antics of the tanuki to the elaborate shape-shifting stunts they perform.

It also uses a mix of humor and drama to balance the heavier themes, keeping the audience engaged and invested in the story. In conclusion, “Pom Poko” is a film that explores important themes and issues in a compelling and entertaining way.

The conflict between the younger and older generations, the struggle of identity, and the complex relationship between humans and nature are just a few of the themes explored in the film. Through its story and characters, “Pom Poko” asks us to reflect on our own relationship with the natural world and to consider the impact of our actions.

It is a film that is both entertaining and thought-provoking, and a testament to the creative genius of Studio Ghibli. The production of Pom Poko was a significant undertaking for Studio Ghibli, requiring an enormous amount of attention to detail and creativity.

Directed by Isao Takahata, who also directed Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbors the Yamadas, Pom Poko features rich and detailed animation, intricate sound design, and an original score by composer Shang Shang Typhoon. One of the most notable aspects of the film’s production is its use of traditional hand-drawn animation.

Although many studios have transitioned to computer-assisted animation, Studio Ghibli remained committed to the traditional methods of animation. This allowed the animators to create a sense of fluidity and movement that would have been difficult to achieve using digital techniques.

By keeping production focused on traditional art forms, Studio Ghibli was able to preserve the essence of the Japanese storytelling and animation style that has made it internationally renowned. The Studio Ghibli team was also tasked with creating intricate details for the characters, backgrounds, and special effects.

The Tanuki and other forest creatures had to be drawn with a degree of realism to make them believable, even though they are magical creatures and were often depicted in shape-shifting forms. The team also incorporated detailed backgrounds that drew on traditional Japanese architecture and landscapes, giving the film a sense of deep rootedness in Japanese culture.

Additionally, special effects were created using a variety of techniques, including multi-plane camera setups and lightbox animation, resulting in beautiful and complex imagery that adds to the texture and depth of the film. The sound design of Pom Poko also played a significant role in the film’s production process, with foley artists and sound designers working to create an immersive and believable soundscape.

Over 2000 sound effects were used in the film, each carefully designed and recorded to enhance the visuals and add to the overall sense of immersion. Environmental sounds, such as the chirping of birds and the rustling of leaves, were added to make the audience feel as though they were in the forest with the Tanuki.

The sounds of human activity, such as machinery and traffic, were also used to contrast with the natural world, highlighting the threat of human development. Composer Shang Shang Typhoon’s original score for Pom Poko was another essential element of the film’s production.

The whimsical and lively soundtrack had a strong folksy and atmospheric feel, incorporating traditional Japanese instruments, including the shamisen and taiko drums. The score accompanied the animation to create an emotional connection to the Tanuki and their struggle, providing both added emotional depth and an almost fairy-tale like charm.

As a result, the soundtrack has become a fan favorite and has received accolades on its own, even being featured in instrumental albums, promotions, and other Ghibli merchandise. Finally, as with all Ghibli productions, a lot of care went into the dubbing and subtitling of Pom Poko.

The voice-over cast provided a convincing dialogue, carefully challenging cultural and linguistic barriers in order to create a global appeal for this film. Moreover, fans with a preference for subtitled works had the benefit of the translation provided by experienced subtitlers to convey the meaning, nuance, and humor of the original Japanese vocal tracks.

In conclusion, the production process of Pom Poko demanded an enormous amount of attention to detail and creativity from Studio Ghibli’s talented creative teams. The commitment to traditional hand-drawn animation allowed for a sense of fluidity and movement, while the intricate sound design and original score added to the overall charm and whimsy of the film.

By combining traditional animation, meticulous sound design, original composition, clever translations, and naturalistic storytelling, Pom Poko remains a testament to the vast capabilities and impeccable standards of Studio Ghibli. Pom Poko was released in Japan in 1994 and was well-received by audiences and critics alike.

In fact, it was the fourth highest-grossing film in Japan that year and was nominated for several awards, including the Annecy International Animated Film Festival’s Cristal Award for Best Animated Feature. The film was later distributed internationally, with English-language versions released in North America by Miramax Films and in the United Kingdom by Optimum Releasing.

The film was dubbed in English by notable voice actors such as Clancy Brown, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and J.K. Simmons, among others. The English-language version also featured an all-star cast of actors, including David Ogden Stiers, John DiMaggio, and Maurice LaMarche.

Despite its critical success, Pom Poko had a mixed reception outside of Japan. Some viewers found the film to be too strange and bizarre, while others praised its creativity and unique storytelling style.

One particular challenge facing the producers and distributors was how to market the film to a broader audience. The story was steeped in Japanese folklore and culture, with certain references and language that might be difficult for non-Japanese speakers to understand.

However, the film’s universal message about environmentalism and the need to preserve nature was a theme that resonated with people across cultures. Despite the initial challenges, over time, Pom Poko has gained a devoted following and is considered a beloved classic among fans of Studio Ghibli.

It has remained a fan favorite and is well-regarded as a landmark film in the studio’s filmography. In recent years, Pom Poko has undergone a restoration and remastering process, with a new digital restoration of the film released in 2020.

This new version of the film comes with even sharper picture quality and sound and has helped to bring a whole new generation of fans to the movie. In addition to the film screenings, Pom Poko is now widely available on various platforms, including DVD, Blu-ray, and digital downloads.

The home video releases have featured behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with the production team, and extras such as artwork galleries and trailers. In conclusion, Pom Poko’s release history has certainly played a significant role in the film’s reputation and influence.

The film’s unique message and creativity have allowed it to find a following over time, despite initial challenges. Now, the digital restoration and remastering process provides more opportunities to explore the world of Pom Poko for future generations of viewers who will continue to be inspired to reflect through the creative power of Japanese anime.

The soundtrack of Pom Poko was composed by Shang Shang Typhoon, a Japanese folk-rock band known for its eclectic style and use of traditional instruments. Typhoon’s score for the film incorporates a mix of traditional Japanese and contemporary music styles that helps to create a unique and whimsical atmosphere.

One of the standout tracks in the film is “The Battle Between the Aged and the Young.” This song features a lively and upbeat tempo that evokes a sense of youthful energy and determination. The track is paired with an action sequence in which the young tanuki take on the human development team, using their shape-shifting powers to create chaos and confusion.

The song’s dynamic rhythm and catchy melody perfectly complement the scene’s fast-paced animation and enhance the excitement and humor of the sequence. Another noteworthy track on the film’s soundtrack is “Japanese Carpenters’ Song.” This song features a traditional Japanese instrument called a shamisen, which adds a classic and authentic sound to the music.

The song is gentle and contemplative, evoking a sense of nostalgia and longing. It is paired with scenes in which the tanuki try to adjust to the changes that are taking place in their forest home, reflecting on the past while grappling with the present.

The soundtrack also features several vocal tracks, including the opening theme “Utsukushii Sekai.” Sung by Kyoko Okada, this song has a cheerful and optimistic tone that sets the stage for the Tanuki’s adventures. It is a perfect opening theme that introduces the fantastic world of Pom Poko.

Shang Shang Typhoon’s overall approach to the film’s music is impressive, with many of the tracks evoking the natural world and the Tanuki’s connection to nature. The music is often infused with sounds of the natural world, such as chirping birds and rustling leaves, highlighting the importance of nature to the story.

Moreover, the soundtrack’s approach to music serves as a prime example of the creative ways in which compositions can enhance and elevate the themes and narrative of the film. The score complements the stunning animation, clever translations, and naturalistic acting performances used in the film to transport viewers into the heart of the Tanuki’s world.

The film’s soundtrack later received an official release on CD and digital platforms, further showcasing the memorable and significant contributions that Shang Shang Typhoon had for the film. The soundtrack’s catchy melodies and upbeat rhythms made it a fan favorite and helped to elevate the film’s status as a classic in the Studio Ghibli canon.

In conclusion, the Pom Poko soundtrack is an essential part of the film’s creative identity, adding the perfect touch to a beautiful and captivating animated film. The clever use of traditional Japanese instruments, the incorporation of natural sounds, and Typhoon’s creative approach to the music allowed the score to resonate with audiences worldwide.

From its catchy opening theme to its evocative instrumental tracks, the Pom Poko soundtrack is the perfect accompaniment to the imaginative and unforgettable world of the Tanuki. In conclusion, Pom Poko is a timeless classic animated film that teaches us about the beauty of nature, the importance of coexisting with it, and preserving it for the generations that come.

The production, release, soundtrack, and plot of the film work together in a seamless manner to create a film that is both a feast for the eyes and food for thought. Hopefully, more audiences can have the opportunity to discover and enjoy this valuable Ghibli creation in the future.


Q: What is Pom Poko about? A: Pom Poko is a Studio Ghibli film that tells the story of a group of mischievous tanuki who must band together to save their forest home from human development.

Q: Who directed Pom Poko? A: Pom Poko was directed by Isao Takahata, who was also responsible for animated films like Grave of the Fireflies and

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