Yobi, the Five-Tailed Fox

Yobi, the Five Tailed FoxEvery so often, you stumble upon a hidden gem. This is one of them.

Yobi, the Five-Tailed Fox is a 2007 anime film from Korea. It’s a quiet, rural tale of a shape-changing fox that takes on the form of a young girl. A handful of “troubled youths” are being forced to attend a special summer school near Yobi’s territory, and she investigates. These kids aren’t future criminals; they’re just kids who have trouble adjusting to normal school.

As is common in Asian films, forest spirits like Yobi have a special kind of personality. They’re more than animals, but not quite human. Yobi herself, while having the body of a 12-year-old, acts like she’s half that age. She’s curious, petulant, and constantly drinking in new information.

Refreshingly, she’s not threatened by the human world in an environmental sense, although that theme does rear its head. Her interactions with people open her heart to strong feelings, forcing her to make difficult choices in contrast to her care-free forest existence.

And what a beautiful world she lives in. The film’s drawn and animated like a Studio Ghibli film, with lush colors and great attention to detail. If your jaw dropped upon viewing My Neighbor Totoro or Castle in the Sky, as mine did, Yobi will feel just as rewarding.

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