Pom Poko raccoons bare it allEdward Jay Epstein recently chronicled the decline of sex and nudity in films. Obviously, he wasn't looking at animated creatures. Disney released the Studio Ghibli film Pom Poko on DVD this week. The 1994 Japanese film received the standard Disney release treatment for Studio Ghibli films: a good dub with talent such as Jonathan Taylor Thomas and J.K. Simmons. The movie is rated PG and the DVD cover art features a merry gathering of adorable raccoons, with the Disney Home Entertainment title at the top. Looks like a fun movie for the whole family, right?

However, reviewer Scott Chitwood at Coming Soon noticed a problem that might make some families think twice about Pom Poko's suitability for kids: anatomically correct male raccoons. He summarized the movie as "bizarre, generally slow, and features a baffling number of raccoon scrotums." The animated movie also includes a brief shot of a topless female centerfold and some graphic scenes of bloody raccoon death.

I thought the reviewer might be a little fixated when he dwelled on every instance of this problem, claiming that in one scene, the raccoon genitalia swelled to unrealistic sizes and were even used as weapons. After I looked around the Web and found stills from Pom Poko like the one on the right, I decided he might not be exaggerating. My goodness, what would Wal-Mart think? I think it's hilarious, and immediately added the movie to my Netflix queue, but I don't have any children.

Did Disney not notice or not care? Do they not realize that many parents assume that if it's animated and released by Disney, it's sure to be fine for their kids ... and for many American parents, dangly raccoon bits are not fine? I remember seeing Spirited Away, another Studio Ghibli film dubbed and released in the U.S. by Disney, in a theater packed full of kids who were too young to understand what was going on and quickly grew restless or scared. I'm very happy that Disney is releasing these Studio Ghibli films on DVD and in theaters, and I absolutely would not want them to alter the images in any way, but perhaps they should consider the extent to which they market these films to younger audiences.