Film Review: To Enjoy Our Cherry Pie in Community: A Commentary on Gekijōban Dōbutsu no Mori by Jōji Shimura


  • Esai Santana
  • Lauren Whiting


Produced in 2006, and never formally released outside of Japan, Gekijōban Dōbutsu no Mori - otherwise known as Animal Forest: The Movie - follows the journey of Ai, a young girl who transplants herself to a new town in hopes of finding her talent and goal (her cherry pie). Along the way, she experiences the highs and lows of finding an identity, a sense of purpose, and belonging in a new space. Throughout her time, she wrangles with the journey of acceptance that the grandness of life requires the acceptance that she is not the main character in other people’s lives, as they have their own dreams and cherry pies. In turn, she realizes she is an interdependent element of her new community whereby she sees the greatness in others, others see the greatness in her, and she sees the greatness in herself. As a film modeled after Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: Wild World for the DS, it encapsulates familiar, nostalgic feelings fans of the franchise experience as they learn to find their cherry pie, identity, and belonging through life simulation.