Balls! I can never look at raccoons the same way again. Previously thought of as a scavenging nuisance, whose menacing presences would often threaten many a late night stroll, especially on garbage night, I now look up to these masked creatures with a newfound respect. For starters, and if I’m to believe everything I see in the movies, these feisty buggers are a proud species with fully equipped sets of cojones large enough to make King Kong’s scrotum seem like a pair of pine nuts. They also prefer to walk on two feet, enjoy TV, possess the ability to clumsily organize armies, and can shape shift into just about anything; an inanimate object, fire, water, ghostly spirits, even humans. Of course, they only do this when nobody’s looking.
And these are the inhabitants who rule director Isao Takahata‘s and writer Hayao Miyazaki‘s zany and touching universe. The film’s message, that of urban sprawl and the natural course of things, never gets all preachy. Instead, through alternating use of drawing styles depicting cartoonish playfulness to landscaping realism – even going so far as to show dead raccoons laid out in the middle of the street – these two artists have created one hell of a polarizing tale.
The story is so simple in form and yet so complex in how it raises questions regarding our own relationship with the natural progression of things. This theme is not at all new territory for Miyazaki, as he smartly displayed in the more serious toned, Princess Mononoke, it’s just I’m able to have a lot more fun coming to terms with man’s ever evolving destructiveness when there are raccoon testicles being utilized in ways I never would have imagined. Good times, indeed!