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In Pom Poko, we are given facts and figures and diagrams and highly obvious visual "metaphors".

It's an awkward movie with an obvious message, handled with none of the charm, passion, nor humanity, that I've come to expect from Ghibli.

Faced with the destruction of their habitat due to the growth of Tokyo, a group of tanuki try to defend their homes.

Ironically, despite featuring shape-shifting raccoon dogs straight from Japanese folklore and their giant testicles, the third Ghibli feature directed by Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies, Only Yesterday) feels oddly un-eventful.

Through a coldly dethatched pseudo-documentary style, the story follows the exploits of the raccoon dogs in their efforts to thwart the construction workers and developers that threaten their forest homes through eco-terrorism.

Meanwhile, the rest of them do their best to disrupt the construction site, at first causing accidents, and then actually haunting the site.

However, the humans are very persistent, and soon the tanuki are forced to use more and more extreme measures to save their home.

The tanuki -- a badger-like creature often portrayed with big round eyes, a large Buddha-like belly, and long pendulous testicles resting by its feet -- is a beloved figure in Japanese myth, viewed both as a fun-loving bringer of fortune and a shape-changing trickster.