When the economic boom in Japan leads to massive deforestation, the raccoons find their habitat threatened. They band together and mount a campaign to stop the destruction of their world by humans. They learn to shape change, and wreak merry havoc with construction crews. Some of their stunts simply frighten the people off, but some of the sabotage is deadly, too.
The packaging and the “From the Creators of Howl’s Moving Castle” might be a bit misleading in this case. Studio…Ghibli product thought this is, and sharing the environmental concerns of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, this is not one of his works (nor is it in the same league as his masterpieces). This is a very narration-heavy film, and speaks so directly to a particular time and place and socio-economic context in Japan that one feels that something has been lost in the translation. And though there is plenty of whimsy, lethal sabotage and sight gags involving raccoon testicles (called “raccoon pouches” in the English dub) mean this is for older viewers. The younger ones, in fact, might find the story a bit impenetrable. For older, adventurous audiences, this is a very intriguing work, and is yet another object lesson on the sheer range of stories told in the world of Japanese animation.
The sound is 2.0 in both Japanese and English. The English voice acting is acceptable, but the setting is so utterly Japanese that the original language track is easily the preferable option here. There isn’t a lot of surround sound beyond the music, but there are a few nice atmospheric moments involving insect call or rain. There are some instances of minor buzz afflicting the dialogue.
No complaints about the image, however, which is as sharp and grain-free as one could wish. The coloursa re strong and stable, and the print is in mint condition. A very strong animated transfer.
The extras are very limited here. Some sort of documentary would have been really nice, but all you have is the movie in storyboard form on Disc 2 (as with the other recent Ghibli releases) and trailers and TV spots. The menu’s main screen is animated and scored, and the secondary screens are scored.
A really unusual release, and in many ways a rather surprising one. Still very welcome, however.
Special Features List
- Trailers and TV Spots