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This anime series caused a major raccoon problem in Japan

Back in the 1970s, one of the best anime series aimed at kids proved so successful that it led to thousands of raccoons spreading around Japan.

An anime series caused a raccoon infestation in Japan

The cultural impact of the best anime series and the best anime movies is huge all over the world. But in Japan, one famous animated series for kids ended up having a massive and unwanted environmental impact.

In 1977, Nippon Animation made 52 episodes of the TV series Rascal the Raccoon, based on an American children’s book about a Wisconsin boy and his pet raccoon.

The series retained the Wisconsin setting and followed a young boy who rescues a baby raccoon which, Bambi-style, has been orphaned due to a hunter. Comedy misadventures follow and the boy must decide whether his new friend really belongs in captivity.

After the show aired on Fuji TV, every Japanese kid wanted an adorable pet raccoon of their own, despite the problems faced by the anime character. Roughly 1,500 of them were imported every year. Naturally, caring for the unruly critters proved to be difficult, and many were released into the wild.

Anime series Rascal the Raccoon caused environmental chaos in Japan

While raccoons in America see their population controlled by wolves and coyotes, the burgeoning raccoon population in Japan lacked any significant predators. Soon, they were everywhere, and there they have stayed – as reported by Tofugu.

Non-native raccoons in Japan have caused problems for local birds, as they love eating eggs, as well as crops. They’re also responsible for huge damage to sacred temples and other buildings, with raccoons causing around $200,000 worth of property damage every year on just one of Japan’s four main islands.

Unsurprisingly, there are now very tight restrictions on raccoon imports and Japanese governments have tried to mount extermination plans, with very little success. To at least some extent, these anime-driven raccoons will remain a part of Japanese wildlife.

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For anime less likely to cause environmental damage to an entire country, check out our guide to the new anime coming your way, as well as the best horror anime, the best romance anime, and the best Netflix anime.