My Favorite Kids’ Cartoon

I’ve been a fan of Studio Ghibli (スタジオジブリ) and Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿) from the moment I first saw Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫). For some time now, Disney has been releasing Studio Ghibli productions in the US.

Just this week, I had the opportunity to watch Pom Poko (平成狸合戦ぽんぽこ). It’s about a clan of tanuki (tah-noo-key [狸] raccoon dogs, frequently mistranslated as “raccoons”) who are troubled by the humans who are tearing apart their forest in order to make new suburbs. These tanuki possess powers of transformation, so they use these powers to try to scare the daylights out of the humans.

The movie has terrific animation (if rather Japanese-culture-oriented enough to seem bizarre to most western eyes), and the unfolding story is captivating to watch for both adults and children, but that’s not what I’m gonna talk about.…

A lot of the fun of watching this movie is the fact that, at all times, the male tanuki’s testicles are clearly visible. Not only that, but the male tanuki actually use their scrota to great advantage, by transforming them into weapons, or boat sails, or picnic blankets, or parachutes. (The Japanese are much, much more tolerant of anatomical references in literature and movies [including kids’ stuff]). Disney adds some western grace to it by consistently referring to them as “pouches,”, and the animation in most cases is not as obvious as you might think (at least, for kids), so there are some who have watched the movie without actually realizing what specifically was being used.

You’ve gotta love a kids movie with balls (pun intended). And the fact that Disney produced this in the US… that’s awesome!