Pom Poko (Heisei Tanuki Gassen Pompoko) (Studio Ghibli Collection) (1994)

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Released 18-Oct-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Storyboards-Alternative Angle Storyboards
Trailer-Howl's Moving Castle
Trailer-The Studio Ghibli Collection
Reversible Cover-The Studio Ghibli Collection
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 114:35
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Isao Takahata

Madman Entertainment
Starring Makoto Nonomura
Yuriko Ishida
Nijiko Kiyokawa
Shigeru Izumiya
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Koryu

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Titling
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, McDonalds, Coke
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Related to the fox, the Japanese tanuki, or raccoon dog, features strongly in Japanese folklore and mythology. With massively oversized testicles, the tanuki represents fertility, but has also come to be seen as something of a trickster, using shape-shifting abilities to deceive humans and cause all sorts of mischief. Numerous Japanese tales and rhymes describe the adventures of individual tanuki and their swinging scrotums, and the most famous have been brought together in Isao Takahata's delightful Studio Ghibli film, Pom Poko.

    Tokyo's urban sprawl has begun to encroach on the tanuki forests of the Tama Hills and the Tama New Town development threatens to wipe out the tanuki altogether. Tanuki tribes begin to fight amongst each other over precious resources but soon realise the need to unite against the humans. The ancient practice of shape-shifting is revived and the tanuki, disguised as both humans and demons, begin a guerrilla campaign aimed at grinding development to a halt. Meanwhile, several of the braver tanuki go in search of the ancient tanuki sages in the hope that they will sympathise with and aid their cause. Even with the assistance of the powerful sages, development continues almost unabated and the tanuki, barely maintaining their unity, put all of their energies into a final, large-scale display of their fabulous powers, hoping to remind the humans of the heritage they are developing into obscurity.

    As with all Studio Ghibli releases, Pom Poko combines imaginative storytelling with high quality animation. Reflecting the morphing abilities of the tanuki, Takahata's animation shifts seamlessly between three different styles: a highly realistic style (think Watership Down) may give way to a comic anthropomorphic vision or even a highly stylized manga style, all within the one scene. This shift could easily have become messy, but Takahata pulls it off perfectly and the effect is highly enjoyable to watch.

    Pom Poko is perhaps not as famous as its Hayao Miyazaki cousins Spirited Away et al, but ranks equal in enjoyment and takes the prize in the humour department. The slapstick comes thick and fast and those familiar with Japanese folklore will find plenty of clever references and retellings of classic myths and horror stories. Parents of younger children are forewarned that Pom Poko's humour is very earthy, with regular reference to the famous tanuki testicles. It's all far from obscene, though, and really just a whole lot of fun. The fun is balanced by addressing serious issues such as death and environmental conservation and Pom Poko manages to be both thought-provoking and entertaining. Pom Poko is easily recommended and yet another winner from Studio Ghibli.

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Transfer Quality


    Pom Poko's video transfer is of the usual good standard set by other Studio Ghibli releases. The film is presented at a ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness and shadow detail are usually very good, but low level noise is often visible, especially in darker colours. Colours lean towards pastel, but are well rendered. Some very mild colour bleed can be seen on rare occasions.

    Pixelization can be seen at times and an odd moment of macroblocking now and then (see around 69:00). Ghosting is present as always and juddery pans suggest this is yet another NTSC-PAL conversion from Madman. There's some mild aliasing, also. Still, Pom Poko looks good (at least on a standard television). Film artefacts are negligible.

    Subtitles are the usual Madman yellow, well placed, and a good translation. The film is divided into 21 chapters.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Audio is well presented. The disc includes a Dolby Digital 2.0 English track (default) and a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 track. Both are surround encoded. I listened to both.

    Dialogue is clear in both tracks, but a little lacking dynamically. Audio sync is as good as it will get for animation.

    Music consists of variations on Japanese folk music, children's rhymes and chants, and bouncy, highly irritating theme music. Several names are attached to the music, including Koryu.

    Dialogue is centrally focused and the front and rear speakers carry ambient sounds and support the music. Not much in the way of directional effects at all. My subwoofer picked up a few moments of rumble here and there.

    The English dub is fine enough. Being a Disney effort, though, all references to tanuki testicles have been translated as "raccoon pouch."

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio

Theatrical Trailer

     Several original Japanese trailers for Pom Poko.


    The standard storyboard feature for Ghibli releases, an alternate angle storyboard presentation of the entire film. Not likely to keep many viewers interested for the duration and would be better presented on a second disc as per overseas releases.


    Trailers for Howl's Moving Castle and The Studio Ghibli Collection.

Reversible Cover

    Thankyou Madman!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release is practically the same, bar differences in trailers and the presentation of the storyboard feature on a second disc. Likewise the Region 2 Japan release. All fairly even.


    Pom Poko is another excellent film from Studio Ghibli.

    Video and audio are good, with very few problems.

    The extras are satisfactory.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Adam Atkinson (read my bio)
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S336, using Component output
DisplayLG Flatron Widescreen RT-28FZ85RX. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V357
SpeakersDB Dynamics Belmont Series: Fronts: B50F, Centre: B50C, Rears: B50S, Sub: SW8BR

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Good review of a good movie -