Another Ghibli title that seems to meet general audiences somewhere in the middle, this is a delightfully strange, comedic, adventure-filled movie that's altogether a lot of fun - that is, if you can make it past all the raccoon testicles. And no, I'm not kidding.
Our story starts in Japan during the 1960s where a suburban development begins threatening the lives of the wildlife around it. In this case, the main focus is raccoons. Picking up several yeasr down the line, we see the raccoon tribes fighting amongst themselves for property, food, and other resources that have faded away drastically since the erection of New Tama (the suburban development in question).
Eventually, these raccoons learn that they shouldn't be fighting amongst themselves, but waging war on the humans who have taken their land and resources away from them. This mainly consists of trying to scare them out of town due to the uncanny raccoon capability of shape-shifting.
This movie has one hell of a range to it. Some moments are adorable, some are really quite serious, but the whole thing ends up being the age-old environmental message in the end. It largely has to do with development driving out wildlife. But I must admit that what I saw here was a much more interesting take on the concept as opposed to other movies like 'Avatar' and any other movie like it.
This story consists of a rather original concept altogether, and I have to give it credit for what it manages to accomplish in the process. The end of the movie is kind of bittersweet, and all the way through the movie, we're shown interesting ideas - not the least of which is seeing just how far these raccoons can go with their shape-shifting. If you can find a clip, it's well worth watching these guys execute something called "Operation Specter' - and no, it's nothing to do with James Bond.
All in all, I sort of meet this one in the middle though, as at about 2 hours, there's almost just too much going on here. That said, there's really no massive lulls of time between things. The film is paced well, and anything that may be considered a bit boring is quickly replaced by something really cool-looking, or something comedic. As mentioned before, there's actually quite a wide emotional range to this one.
So, I can happily recommend this as one of the better Ghibli movies altogether. There's likable characters, there's unlikable characters, it can get a good laugh here and there, and I think "Operation Specter" is one of my favourite scenes in the Ghibli series thus far. Maybe it's due to me being such a Halloween/'Ghostbusters' fan, but that whole bit really spoke to me on a personal level, as odd as that may sound.
This may not be at the top of everyone's list, and I'm not sure it's near the top of mine (yet) either, but I definitely had more fun with this one that a couple of previous titles. Check this one out for yourselves though, because if nothing else, there's still a bunch of raccoon testicles on the screen to discuss among your fellow Ghibli fans.
As anime is an all-around untapped resource for my viewing pleasure, I have decided to explore the Ghibli titles, one-by-one. It seemed good a place to start as any. I'll be focusing on these titles throughout the month of August.