Every once in a while, a truly magnificent and original anime shows up. Being a media everyone relates with silly characters, a fun story and a little ecchi now and then, the typical anime-lover would get a mild shock from a movie such as this.
Through the film, we follow the cat Nyatto on his quest to reclaim his sister's lost soul. They embark on a strange journey filled with mystery, darkness and disturbing obstacles. There isn't much more to say, really.
Nyatto and his sister - and also a few other characters - were all in Nekojiru Gekijou, the series this film spawned from. Although
this story takes place in the same world as the original series, this is not similar to it at all. All the black humor that Nekojiru Gekijou was built upon have been replaced with a dark and disturbing tale.
When people watch a movie such as this that blends surrealism and symbolism into a lovely mix, they usually react differently. The writer might not have had any ideas behind all of it, and there's a possibility that there are no real answers to the mysteries. In other words, you're free to interpret it as you like. That's what made David Lynch's "Eraserhead" so popular amongst some, while being hated by others.
The only thing I don't like with Cat Soup is that it's a tad too short. There's potential for so much more. One can only hope for some kind of sequel in the future.
Cat Soup or Nekojiru-sou in its Japanese title is a lot stranger than its own name makes it out to be. It can be best described if you gave a loony philosopher, who just happened to love cats, some drugs this short film would probably be the result of what they see in their high. A series of abstract ideas presented in such a bizarre manner while seemingly nonsensical is alluring in its strange nature. It is very difficult to make any sense of it or confirm it means anything, but that’s part of what makes this short film have such a strong impression in
such a small amount of time.
Good: Simple and deep
The story is basically about two cat siblings with Nyako, the brother, searching for some way to resurrect, Nyatta, his dead sister. The opening minutes of the short film are about as direct it’ll get. Beyond that point, it becomes a journey into the abstract. Filled with a visit to the circus involving seeing a magic act of a woman getting completely chopped into pieces, discovering an elephant made out of water in a desert, and the ocean becoming completely frozen to name few odd things you’ll see. As odd some of these descriptions are, they do get across simple ideas. For example, when the cat siblings visit the circus Nyako firmly believes he can fully resurrect his dead sister after seeing a circus act performing a seemingly impossible act. It is a simple moment that is straight to the point.
Virtually non-existent dialogue, the story is told in a way that the few lines of dialogue aren’t needed to understand the story. It’s a risky decision, but pays off to give off the vibe of being in a strange dream. Nothing is given a direct explanation when going from one event to the next. Instead of stopping in one area to explain the significance of a scene, it goes straight to the next odd scene. Its story is quite simple to get behind, but whether or not it has any meaning is never confirmed within the work itself.
Good: Once again, simple and easy to get behind
It’s a single OVA meaning the protagonist motivation is kept at a basic level. Being more than enough to follow Nyako on his journey. His simplicity makes him appealing and immediately thoughtful. Simply seeing his parents' negligence towards him and his sister in the household says allot about the bond he has with his family. With that said the story is essentially what you see is all you get. Allowing the viewer to form their own interpretation on everything that unfolded.
The supporting cast is filled mostly with anthropomorphic animals with some humans. Whenever a human character is on screen, it usually leads to trouble. They’re only given one purpose which is entirely fine since it’s going for more showing than actually telling. The only true negative to the characters is there is not much to analyze or sink into. All the characters are straightforward without ever diverting from their set path.
Good: Even the technical side of it is odd
On the animation side J.C. Staff succeeds in creating a dreamlike feeling. Anathanpromorbic animals are given simple design that makes them look cute to greatly contrast against the cruel action. Humans are drawn like humans, though they don’t appear much in the OVA and often use a blank expression. It has a muted color palette that seems off visually making it seem as if life has been taken out of it. Emphasizing the whole surreal nature of the world where all the oddities belong can belong together. By design, it at times looks hand drawn and at one point even begins to look like a kid’s coloring book. Whatever J.C. Staff used to color their images in this OVA it looks as natural as coloring by hands instead of a computer.
There’s virtually no voice acting in the OVA. When there is dialogue it’s presented through a speech bubble that adds more to the dreamlike feeling than adding to the story. In the sound department stuff like footsteps, water flowing, ticking clocks, squeaky toys, and a dozen other effects make up the sound department. The music is split between sounding light hearted and welcoming which soon become interrupted by eerie static like noises. It fits the OVA perfectly giving an eerie, unsettling atmosphere in the darker scenes. It can also be sweet when in use during scenes where nothing out of the ordinary happens to simply show the cat siblings taking care of one another. The closing credits uses the most editing with a music box to close the OVA. Combining both childlike wonder and an eerie presence by looping the music box in at random moment.
On the DVD there’s an audio commentary track that is not exactly helpful to say the least. Director Tatsuo Sato explains that many of the scenes do not have an underlying meaning or if there was one, he forgot what it was. Admitting he had no intention in mind when putting the film together. So pretty much you make of what you see.
Personal Enjoyment: I liked it, even if it’s possibly meaningless
It was an oddity about half an hour long so even if I did dislike it the short length would be a saving grace. I like seeing strange stuff no matter how weird it gets. I’m just in shocked J.C. Staff actually made something I would call smart. In general, J.C. Staff doesn’t come across as a studio to take risks or stray off from their comfort zone with anime that are heavy on the slice of life elements or attempting to duplicate their previous success with a Shakugan no Shana clone. This short film doesn’t change my views on the studio as anything other than being average, but it has earned them more of my respect by creating something out of their comfort zone.
Cat Soup/Nekojiru-sou is like a collection of episodic shorts splice together into a 32 minute OVA with any true meaning to it left with no answer from what the material provides. It’s a short film with virtually non-existing dialogue that’s reliant on visuals alone by combining cute, simple designed characters in bizarrely dark situations to tell its story. This OVA is very much a visual experience that’s intriguing for the creativity it display in a short length. Watch it for the visuals and creativity, leave with your own meaning.
That concludes the review portion of this review. The remainder is simply a paragraph on my interpretation of the OVA. After that, it’s five paragraphs of what I learned about Chiyomi Hashiguchi, the mangaka of Nekojiru-sou. MAL has their own biography on the mangaka, but it was rather short so I wrote what I gather. With that written, continue if you like.
Bonus Passage: My Interpretation on the film (SPOILERS, SPOILERS HERE)
Based on my opinion and what I gathered. Nyako is sister is dead. Living alone with his drunkard father and mother who did not care. Nyatta was the only one who he had and he chased a miracle to rescue her. Catching god of death himself, Nyako took half of her soul, returning it back. However, she was not whole. He tried to find the other part half, and there is where the deeper part starts. The main idea of this anime is nobody can decide the lives of the others which can be seen in every person they have met. Old hag who made people from spare parts, being patched up herself. Guy who killed others, getting his again. Merciless, selfish circus which destroyed the whole world in the end and in the end Nyako never saw that his desires were actually selfish and that he opposed the God, who showed him how easily he can manipulate time and that only something like God can bring life back. When Nyako in the end saved his sister, because he was mortal it brought a total disorder to the Universe, literally canceling everything, making it vanish. This anime also brings up a topics like natural order, and that we all are part of the circle which is life and death. And that it's nobody's fault, that's just how it is. In the end, God is just laid back dude who eats watermelons and sometimes turns back the time when he drops it down. Or in plain English, it’s likely represent the mangaka husband trying everything he can to save his wife by projecting his feelings onto the characters he and his wife created.
Condense Information I gather about the mangaka:
Chiyomi Hashiguchi, or Nekojiru by her pseudonymous pen name, was the author of a manga called "Nekojiru Udon" published in Garo magazine. "Nekojiru Udon" were based around her own bizarre dream experiences. In Hashiguchi diary (going by reproduced scrawls) reveals a very a fascination with communication breakdown and bodily malfunction, objectively noting every unpleasantry from vomiting dogs to accident victims.
With only the book, “Jusatsu Sarecgatta Boku” (some direct passages from the book), by Yoshiaki Yoshinaga to go on for information my knowledge on Chiyomi Hashiguchi is dense. According to those who knew Chiyomi Hashiguchi personally found her to be somewhat plain and misunderstood, but also unpredictable, mysterious and seemingly fragile if not for shadowy side of her internal personality which she expressed so vividly in her manga. According to the book Chiyomi was diagnosed with manic depressions as well in several occasions being heard saying “I’m not afraid of death”.
At the peak of her popularity in 1997-98, her once relaxed working atmosphere was no more as she had to produce large quantities of work which was out of character. Further reading reveals Chiyomi and her husband, Hajime Yamano (the artist of the manga) didn’t turn down a single offer for work meeting deadline after deadline. At this point in the book, it says many of the scenes depicted in “Nekojiru” were a blend of Chiyomi dreams and what she saw in real life. It’s rather unclear on the details of how to separate what were part of her dream and what she actually saw since she couldn’t separate it herself.
Overworked, she began to drink heavily from being overworked. It stopped being fun for Chiyomi to do her work and now was only a matter of making the deadline. Eventually Chiyomi had run out of ideas, but she had deadlines to meet, and did the best she could manage. She had a strong sense of responsibility, and always found a way of come through in the end. More than once, she found herself cornered by several deadlines and had to push herself to the brink of collapse to finish everything. Having was trying to commit suicide in the past, Nekojiru had written wills on a number of occasions. Her last extant will dated from several years prior. She committed suicide on May 10, in 1998 with the cause of her suicide unknown. The accounts of how it affected her friends were also in the book.
After some research on Chiyomi Hashiguchi doing a simple review wasn’t satisfactory for me. As depressing as it might have been reading the book knowing her tragic end I couldn’t find bring it in me to leave out what I learned about her. The book goes into detail about how she was as a person from accounts from those who her whereas I simply condensed the information I read. In turn, after learning all of this it has made me look at the short OVA in a different way. It’s depressing reading about Chiyomi Hashiguchi and what happened to her, but this OVA is proof she has not been forgotten which in a way makes me happy about its creation no matter what feeling the viewer will have after watching it.
I have to start with that this is probably THE weirdest movie I have ever seen. And you know what, I loved it. You get completly lost when u watch it but in a good way, but the best thing with this is probably that they made it look like a kids show, but its so harsh in some places that you realise that this is not a kids show.
Story: I liked the story that the Main cat (Nyatto) is trying to help his sister that got her soul removed. but that might just be because I love weird anime.
Art: I just got blown away
by the art, it was so appeling that I cant give it lower then a perfect score.
sound:The sound was good, cant really elaborate that because the characters doesn't talk. but they did a really nice work with the backround sound and music.
Character: I loved Nyatto he did things that you would never expect a cat to do.
Enjoyment: The enjoyment gets a perfect score, I just laught the whole time, this movie OWNED.
I was expecting to like this movie. I am a fan of surrealism and of the art movie genre in general. I was sorely disapointed however. Despite all of the rave reviews and excitement around it I could never seem to get myself into the film. At first I tried to analyze every piece of it and work it into some overall theme. The problem is when it comes right down to it there is no theme or overall message present in the movie. It comes off as a jumbled mess of half ideas like they were sitting at the drawing board and decided this
scene would look really good here. I was lefting feeling like the creators had no idea in mind and that the movie had no message. Thinking I must be wrong and missing something of valuable importance I looked into it further and once again tried to analyze it but found a few scattered thoughts but nothing tangible. Finally I went to the source and tried to see what the director had to say and found that there was no meaning behind it and even the creator admits they put stuff in there just to mess with people leaving it up for the watcher to create their own meaning. In short sorely disapointed that I spent so much of my time on the film. I will give it a six out of ten simply because despite the lack of meaning I still did manage to find it to be a mildly entertaining the first time around.
I hate shows that doesn't make any sense whatsoever. I never cared for trippy insanity such as those found in abundance in "FLCL" and "Dead Leaves"... and "Cat Soup" is about as trippy as they come - it makes me wonder what the hell the producers were smoking when they made this. There is no dialogue for starters, and after the first couple of minutes, there is barely any coherence either, just random scenes flashing across the screen. I just don't get it - what exactly is the point of this kind of anime? The art is ultra simplistic, the story is non-existent, and to
say the characters are zero dimensional would be flattering to the extreme. If it's suppose to be entertaining, then it failed as I found it intensely boring despite its short length. If it's supposed to be funny, well, apart from one scene that appear to be some whacky, gruesome parody of a magic show, I didn't find the anime amusing in the slightest. If you like psychedelic anime, then this is one for you. Otherwise, you'll want to give this piece of crap a *very* wide berth.
Cat Soup is one in the list of anime that don't advertise themselves as what they truly are. Others that could be put alongside it are Neon Genesis Evangelion, Madoka Magica, and Alien Nine. Cat Soup presents itself similarly to other shows for young children, featuring cute-looking creatures as the main cast. These shows tend to feature some imaginative events and a journey of some kind, and both of those are still present in Cat Soup. However, Cat Soup should in no way be regarded as a children's show and is, in reality, dark and likely meaningful in its presentation. Cat Soup can also be
seen simply as an experience to those who cringe at the idea of interpreting a story or play. However, for those that love a vague experience that can be attached with personal meaning, do not pass up Cat Soup.
Cat Soup is limited to just over thirty minutes. Surprisingly though, Cat Soup is one of the most visually imaginative pieces I've come across. The OVA itself has a good budget and that shows in the very intriguing animation, but also notably shows in the lacking sense in the sometimes simplistic art-style it carries. The intriguing part, however, comes with the direction, which is phenomenal and one of the best I've seen in anime. The direction as a whole is wonderful, but the animation direction, by Masaaki Yuasa, is where the primary medal of achievement should be awarded. For those who are very knowledgeable on this man, it may not come to a surprise that Cat Soup looks wonderful from previously watching his other assisted material, such as: Genius Party, Kaiba, Mind Game, and Tatami Galaxy. Every moment is interesting and, within minutes, the randomness and imaginative art will likely pull in all attention. Cat Soup is an art house and that art, while seemingly random, can likely be inserted with meaning.
Before moving past budget, the sound of Cat Soup should also be mentioned. Cat Soup has a stylish soundtrack, but not essentially a magnificent soundtrack. The music plays alongside the art very well, but it might not be the type of soundtrack that one would listen to on their spare time. The music involves a lot of piano and electronic symphonies, and greatly assists the atmosphere. The music creates a feeling of light caution as though anything could happen at any moment, as the music consistently sounds as if it will wobble off the record-player's tone arm. The sound effects itself are flawless and never create a feeling of a lacking atmosphere. The atmosphere of Cat Soup is vibrant at any and every moment, while still keeping the feel of a child's cartoon at many times.
The characters of Cat Soup feature many imaginative, and randomly presented, creatures with some inclusions of humans as well. The main characters consist of two sibling cats, the story generally being of them going to the store to get some curry for their family to eat for dinner. Whether that is actually the story at hand, however, is debatable and up to interpretation. Cat Soup is an experience. These characters don't always act consistent or rationally and will many times carry out what feels like forced actions that you wouldn't have guessed they would do from what you previously examined. However, as the randomness builds up, this all feels justified by the main goal emanating out of Cat Soup being the interpretive experience. The story could just involve a paranoid child or an imaginative kid, or it could be something far more complex. On my side of things, I left the experience feeling that it was an actual deconstruction of a child's cartoon, focusing on the concept of control over the cast to make the viewers entertained. This could also be seen related to religion, within the OVA, as imagery of devastating and important world events rush by as a God-like figure flies through it all with the simple intent of trying to reach for his fallen melon-slice. That is an example of the possible depth of Cat Soup.
Cat Soup focuses on the experience and to enjoy it one must be open to very strange imagery that is also consistently dark, in a grim manner. Cat Soup, again, isn't a child's anime and is filled with blood and simplistic gore. The events that pass in the OVA will feel random, for the most part, and these random events will basically always turn themselves onto a darker path. The story is these events and trying to understand what they all mean and what might not actually be happening. Cat Soup is relatable to Evangelion for a reason, not only in the concept of them being possible "deconstructions" of their genre-types. Cat Soup can likely be disturbing to many viewers and I would warn this to someone before recommending it to them. A viewer has to understand what an experience viewing is before dropping into this piece and that idea will sometimes just never stick with some people. If that's the case, than Cat Soup may not be the best viewing of choice.
Cat Soup is a short and powerful OVA with some of the most imaginative visuals around. The story and characters are inconsistent, in a literal context, and return this show to the label of being an "experience". There are many anime and films that involve complex rational ideas to make themselves viewed as great, but many people also see shows and films that take the irrational and make it meaningful and imaginative as being great. Not everyone feels this way about visual media in general, not only in the anime community, and this difference should be noted when a high acclaim is given to such a strange OVA as this. If one found meaning in what can be considered "deconstruction" series, than they will likely find some enjoyment out of this if the genre itself wasn't leading their interest the most, in the other "deconstructions", but the actual/possible depth. I won't say Cat Soup is, without a doubt, a meaningful experience, but it's a visually intriguing experience and a greatly imaginative one. For that reason, I recommend Cat Soup to those who I deemed as compatible with this dish.
Well, it was pretty evident from the character designs and the artwork who scripted this short film. None other than the “great” Masaaki Yuasa. I use great in parenthesis, because besides Ping Pong The Animation, I tend to believe his work is a bit overrated (still good, just not great). The Tatami Galaxy, for example, was far from a masterpiece, as it reused tired anime tropes, and revealed its central philosophical thrust — to grasp onto the opportunities that lie in front of you, and stop chasing the rose-colored, “perfect” life — in the very first episode, rendering much of what came
afterwards as trivial fluff. It was a lean 11 episodes, but, honestly speaking, it could have been six, due to its repetitive nature.
Keeping this in mind, If Tatami galaxy suffers from excessive explaining and revealing its theme(s) too forwardly, then Nekojiru-sou (Cat Soup) collapses from an antithetical reason — not having a theme at all. This is not to say there aren’t interesting ideas presented to the viewer for deeper contemplation, such as: animal cruelty, the transience of life, and the interconnectedness of all species towards collective sustainability (e.g. the cat poops, and the fish eat the poop). That all being said, however, the anime film must be recognized for what it is, and far more importantly, for what it is not. And what it is not, is a competent work with an identifiable message that resonates with the audience long after the initial viewing experience.
To put it bluntly: obscurity + random ideas (that have no association with one another) = crap!
I'm not going to lie to you and tell you the film provoked my thoughts in a massive way, I never deeply analyzed the movie but I did find it a gorgeous little story.
I found the simplicity and complexity both coinciding to be more of a focal point than a distraction. The colors are fantastically bright at one point and then disgustingly dank at others which flowed very well with the overall story.
The childlike animation led me to believe the story was going to be of the same ilk, though when it began I realized I was a bit mistaken to say the
least xD. The events which take place throughout the film make it hard to grasp, and to be fair, I had no idea what they were looking for at the time, and wondered "Why is his sister looking at him like that?" D:
I thought it was a good story with likable, cute characters. But besides the object of the film, the recovery of his sisters soul, there wasn't much to it.
Some anime want to confuse you with complex dialogue or heavy symbolism while others might be difficult to comprehend because of their randomness and nonsensical approach alone. Cat Soup belongs firmly in the second category; the creators themselves have proclaimed that it doesn't really mean anything but the storyline is bizarre enough to demand fair amounts of attention. I see this anime as, above all else, a visual experience and this review exists for the purpose of explaining why.
As far as narration goes, Cat Soup speaks in strict visual language without any traces of verbal communication to convey its plot developments. The core of the
story is comprised of a journey that is neither a quest for self-discovery or knowledge but rather the tale of a cat named Nyako who searches for a piece of his sister's soul that's been stolen. Together the siblings face plenty of disturbing adversities ranging from a man dressed in bondage-gear attacking with a scissor as well as God himself accidentally causing some problems in the flow of time.
Regardless of its gruesome intentions, Cat Soup maintains a decent level of sophistication but also creativity. Simply put, it boasts some of the most fascinating animation I've seen, not necessarily in terms of fluidity or detail but rather sheer imagination alone. This is backed up with lots of simplistic but suitable melodies that are about as quirky as the storyline itself.
Characterization was never really a priority nor necessity with a project of such bizarre qualities but it ends up being memorable as well. Despite the lack of development or elaborations, most of the strange creatures encountered by the cat siblings are about as interesting as... well, everything else!
Cat Soup is, in the end, an OVA that needs to be seen to be believed; not because it's a masterpiece but since it by far exceeds the promises of its title and premise with loads of eccentric insanity. It has moments of unusual humor, disturbing encounters and jaw-droppingly fascinating events; everything a short story needs to deserve a re-watch.
The plot of cat soup is simple, but easy to miss without a small summary, so here is a quick one: a young girl kitten is bed ridden with illness, close to death. Her younger brother sees a spirit take his sister`s soul with it, and he fights to take the soul back. He only gets half of it, which is enough to keep her alive, but brain dead. They set off on a journey to find a flower that will return her to normal. I made the mistake of not reading a synopsis. Because the cats all look alike at first and there`s
no voice acting to help distinguish them, I didn`t recognize what was going on. One thing to note is that the brother wears a green shirt and shorts while the sister wears a peach colored shirt and a skirt that looks a lot like shorts. You`ll figure this out eventually, but it sure makes a lot more sense if you know this from the get go (I thought the sister was a brother until a text bubble corrected me).
Cat Soup is a 30 minute mind trip. The whole journey is one largely unrelated piece of insanity after another. Like a mumbling senile man, it`s hard to translate what he`s saying with syntax and logic, but you often get the feeling that you kind of understand on some deeper, yet simpler level, what he`s trying to get at. Themes like nature, gluttony, time, god, and how disgustingly sick some people can be are represented. They`re there, but there`s no way I could articulate in sentence form some message that each scene was trying to convey. The film highlights these ideas viscerally instead of providing any philosophical insights.
Cat Soup doesn`t require a whole lot of dissection to appreciate. There`s certainly room for dissection if braving the vagueness of this silent film isn`t too daunting a task. The themes are all illustrated clearly, but Cat Soup never dwells. Those who love to deconstruct every detail will have plenty of fodder here, and the rest of us will probably come away with a primal understanding of what the film is trying to convey.
It`s easier on the viewer when the metaphors are direct. When the viewer can pick out a clear and pointed message like "be good to nature" or "life is precious," provided he makes the astute observations necessary to decode the symbolism. It almost adds a layer of satisfaction. On the other hand, pointed messages can often come off as pretentious, treating the viewer like a 5 year old listening to a fairy tale with a moral. Too often is the presentation of these messages unabashedly contrived, or overt. Cat Soup`s approach to its central theme of death is decidedly more emotional, which in one sense is more complex than a simple message, but because it tries to tug more at your heart strings than your higher thought processes, it`s in a different sense, simpler, more primal. While I would love to discuss it, describing it any further will surely spoil the experience. Like looking at a painting where you can trace the painter`s brush strokes, Cat Soup lets you trace the inspirational emotions that sparked the need to make this film.
It's not easy to explain this anime, but what I think, I will tell you.
The story begins with a house. There live several cat's in that house: mom, dad and 2 kitty's. Their lifes is full of psychological thing. The oldest kitty is sick, cause a demon stole his soul. The youngest child is try to cheer him up by going to a circus, but everything goes wrong...
Yet it does have a bit of a happy atmosphere, even though the story seems a bit sad.
I really like the OVA, because it is so random you can always watch it!^^
I highly recommend watching the director speak about this short film as required reading. He illustrates everything that it’s about and gave me a greater appreciation for everything that happens. A brother cat trying to get his sister’s soul back from death sounds pretty straightforward no? Among the twisted and surreal events of the film and watching the interview with the director, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the film was about the cruelty of God and life.
There isn’t much about the music other than the dark ambient noise, but the sound effects paired with the animation are something that I was surprised at
the quality of. As soon as that needle popped into the main cat’s arm I winced, but also was impressed that such a simple act could get such a reaction out of me. That and the rushing water and saw blades never sounded cartoony to me although that’s literally the world that they inhabit. The film doesn’t do anything too exciting with the music; however the sound and the animation could be fantastic homework for how to convince the viewer to be invested in a scene, no matter how surreal.
The premise of the brother cat getting his sister’s soul back is fairly straightforward. However some of the story can get pretty smoked out of the way by the mesmerizing and confusing acts of cruelty that take up the majority of the film. And whether the title was intentional or not, you have to really simmer and float around in the ideas present in the film, and really soak up all the possibilities of what Cat Soup is expressing. There’s not much to the plot other than the complex theming and cruel hijinks seen throughout, but the artistic nature of the imagery and the viewer’s personal experience make it a story.
This film is by no means an in depth character study. All of the characters are set up pretty quickly with a pinch of simplicity. The character that has the most personality is the main cat trying to get his sister’s soul back. Most of the other characters are pieces for the main character to use such as the pig, or are an ever present antagonist, like the God and Time characters seen closer to the end of the film. However there’s never really a character that doesn’t get utilized for a visual or moving part of the story. So even if they’re brutal in their simplicity, all of the players have their place.
Although I think this film is a lot of fun I can only recommend it to those who are super into film and visual barebones storytelling. Dig deep and you’ll find a perplexing little work of art, but if you simply watch it just because I don’t think many people will enjoy it too much. What I can recommend is digging and thinking about the piece as a whole.
An abstract anime that brilliantly captures the feelings of dreams and nightmares. The music is often lighthearted and causes the viewer to question the seriousness of what he / she is seeing. There is a lot of repeated imagry in this film which has a strange effect on those that notice it. There is also a lot of symbolism. I will not go any further into this but I had a fun time watching the macabre scenes shilst analyzing the possible meanings and links.
I would recommend this to anyone who wants a dream-like anime which never ceases to surprise whoever
TL;DR One episode OVA with a visually told story using surreal religious imaginery. Not so far above your head to be completely obscure, yet artistic with creative scene ideas. Nice, memorable, and quick watch worth your half an hour of time.
*** Story ***
The official synopsis is this: Nyatta, an anthropomorphic kitten, on his travel to the land of the dead and back in an effort to save his sister's soul.
My own summary goes like this. Two dead kitten siblings go on a journey into an afterlife world, experience many scenes with highly symbolic and religious imagery from several religions, such as creation, a flood,
temptation, and a mechanical butterfly. The younger brother eventually heals his onee-san, and both return to life in a 2001-esque scene. There they find their impoverished family whom we already met at the beginning, and everybody goes to sleep. The end.
At least this what I see after reading into the plot a bit using essays. The story is exclusively told by means of surreal imagery with very little and insignificant dialog only. No two persons will fully agree on what happens. The several dozens of surrealistic scenes are loosely connected by the kids' voyage. Some of the ideas presented are absolutely stunning and blistering with creativity. Fortunately, the anime never loses itself completely in inaccessible symbolism. While not having done it myself, I'm quite sure given the official synopsis, you can narrow down each scene to a religious concept and interpret it. Which doesn't stop the anime from bending your unprepared mind on first watch.
I like the full circle the story takes, off the children's home and back to there again. I also like that the surreal ideas are really weird, but accessible enough to tell a coherent story one can actually follow. It's just short (or long) enough to not become boring. And having a proper overarching plot with a classic conclusion is just satisfying and calming classic story telling. If the conclusion is what it seems is open to interpretation again, of course. All in all, an above average story told in a creative and unconventional way. (8/10)
*** Animation ***
The animation is about as average as it gets, neither standing out nor hurting the experience with sub-par visuals. Neither the characters nor the backgrounds are very detailed or complex, but their animation is quite fluent. Some scenes were given increased detail level, for example the water effect right at the beginning and the circus scenes. An unspectacular (5/10).
*** Sound ***
Much of what was said about animation holds for the sound effects as well. They are reliably present and supporting the visuals well, but nothing spectacular. Most of the time there is no music playing, just the noises of the world. When music is used, it is picked to support the visuals, e.g. when samurais slice a fish typical ancient japan music plays. But these musical interludes are short and not particularly impressive compositions, more like functional music setting or supporting a mood. Another unspectacular (5/10).
*** Character ***
The two protagonists, Nyatto and his medically brain-damaged onee-san, are travelers in a strange world. They discover it and interact with what they find, but they have no real personalities standing out or developing with time. This allows only for a low rating here, and this is not because the anime's writing would be exceptionally bad. It just comes with the story which puts emphasis on the world, not the protagonists experiencing it.
The nearly same holds for the personified actors in some scenes, such as the creator god, the hindu god, or the evil person wanting to eat them. They are just there because the surreal scene needs a humanoid, not because they are real characters. In the end, I could count them into "characters" or "story", but I will distribute points for them only once. And my decision is to consider them just plot devices, resulting in an overall (3/10).
*** Enjoyment ***
Yup, I enjoyed it. The 32 minutes of run-time were certainly better spent on this little acid trip than on vanilla seasonal junk food. You of course need to enjoy it at the story level, and accept surreal symbols as story telling first hand. And that's already the verdict, same as the story minus one for average execution. (7/10)
*** Overall ***
(8+5+5+3+7)/5=5.6 =~ (6/10), no corrections needed. If you need half an hour of free and memorable fun, you find this one on youtube. Recommended.
As a major fan of surrealism, I love this movie more than I can express.
This is exactly what this movie is. An adaptation of an amazing (now deceased, sadly) mangaka who's works centered around her subconscious. Even the characters depicted are based off her dreams, her trademark characters.
Anyone familiar with her stories would not be surprised about the content of this movie.
If you enjoy surreal, dream-like tales and the sort of morbid world that can only come from the subconscious mind, you will love this movie. I've watched it 3, maybe 4 times in the past 6 months. The imagery and mysterious atmosphere of
the movie invoke an astonishing lonely and wholesome feeling as you watch a small cat traverse his wacky, unbelievable world to attempt to save his sister all the while remaining silent near almost the entirety of the film.
There's something childlike and innocent that creates an amazing contrast between the dark and macabre setting of the story; yet it retains this innocence throughout it's entirety. It has the mysterious, nonsensical element that can only be seen in surreal works.
Even though I amend it, I can see why casual anime fans would dislike this. The way this anime is, when compared to the checklist applied to 'everyday' anime, could not even compete in interest. You have to criticise this movie as a work of postmodern art, rather than an anime meant to entertain in the ways more popular anime does. The storyline of this movie, for example, when applied to any other setting, would probably come out dull, lame, and unbelievable. When it's applied to Cat Soup? I wouldn't have it any other way.
In the end, this movie will be/is loved by fans of nekojiru, people that want to remember her for her unique works, and fans of surrealism. Casual anime fans, however, will probably have no interest nor appreciation for something like Cat Soup.
I made an account on here just to write a review for this, since no one else has! This is such a beautiful movie. In my opinion (and I know not many will agree with me but whatever), this by far surpasses any Ghibli movies, as well as Kimi no na wa. Of course there were a few things it could have done better, but honestly, everything was too superb for me to notice many flaws at all.
Art: 10/10. Literally so gorgeous. The vibrant colors and scenery were incredibly majestic and stunning, and the whole time I felt completely immersed. Not to mention, all of
the characters were super well done. The cats were really attractive, which is a plus for me, but in general -- everyone had their own little quirks about them instead of being bland and repetitive.
Animation: 9/10. I would give it a 10/10, just for being so smooth and extremely well done, but the use of real footage at some points was a bit annoying. Even so, the studio still managed to meld it together without it being too standoffish. It was unique, if anything, so I had almost no problems with it.
Story/Plot: 10/10. I might be sounding super biased, but honestly, I've never seen such a well done plot revolving around water, and the concept of life. It's perfect to me, and because I was raised around this type of belief, it really hits home to see something depicting it in such a way.
Voice acting: 8/10. There were some parts - especially towards the beginning of the movie where I was not yet used to the voices - that I felt the emotions were not being portrayed as powerfully as they should have been, and were lackluster. But overtime I was able to adapt quickly to it, and throughout the movie it almost felt like the voice actors themselves grew, as I was hearing much more depth in the tones they were taking on. I did, in particular, really enjoy Nyako's older voice. Very wise sounding (as she should be, after all she went through).
Soundtrack: 10/10. I loved it. It's not too over the top, yet still very impactful. There were no scenes where I felt that the ost was out of place.
Characters Development: 8/10. I didn't see much of this with Nyatta, honestly. She seemed to stay the same throughout the whole movie, and I didn't feel like she grew very much. Nyako, on the other hand, went through a heck of a lot of development. She was somewhat selfish at first, caring more about what would happen to Nyatta than listening to what Nyatta herself actually wanted, and then ended up sacrificing quite a bit for her wishes nearer to the end.
Overall: Deep storyline, beautiful message, and lots and lots of much appreciated heartwarming feels. To me, it was perfect, and I will most definitely be re-watching this again.
(Yes, this was a review by some chinese bot and it was written so bland and generalised, that I thought it could fit any other movie, which is not Keit-ai or a ghibli movie. If you're still wondering: this is a joke and will probably be deleted by the mods.)
I really enjoyed this movie. I had seen it before I watched the animated series which is entirely different. In the movie there are many dynamics of influence, scenery, imagery, and philosophical impressions. It follows the story of a small cat trying to get his sisters souls back. Even though it is a short movie it was one that really captivated me.
Cat Soup is not something you'll want to read a review of before watching. It's completely pointless, and will make the actual watching less enjoyable. Instead, I'd prefer you to read this AFTER you have finished watching, be it because you want to see others' thoughts or shape your own, or to understand what you've seen or whatnot.
The first thing that comes to mind while watching is that this is not a story told, nor an idea that can be put to words being conveyed, but rather a "journey of the state of mind". I believe this is the best way I can describe the
experience of watching Nekojiru-sou. Or so I would like to say, but there are two ways to watch the OVA. And both I believe are equally as important, and so I feel was meant by the author; don't quote me on that though. The two ways are:
• "The journey of the state of mind"
• Seeing the actual plot
Although much depends on the viewer, the way you watch Cat Soup gradually changes by itself, from the "Journey" to "seeing that the author(s) actually meant a lot of things". It changes from an abstract painting into a book.
Let me first describe "the journey of the state of mind" part.
Just as with any abstract work of art, once you've "tuned into it", for the lack of better term, it can become a most powerful medium. If you can't, or won't "tune in" however, you'll just see random crap. Period. Now... If you let your mind be guided by the atmosphere, shape and ideas of the movie, you are guaranteed to get a ton of enjoyment. It's hard to describe this kind of enjoyment. You know how it feels good when you watch a good Mecha with a lot of fighting? Now compare this to the "feels good" of a quality love story... Well, the feeling is just as different for Nekojiru-sou. The best I can do to describe it is, I feel refreshed. In a way that my mind feels... clean? Blank and clean, but very pleasant. Don't confuse for "What." blank, as after a mindfuck or anything of the sorts please.
The actual plot, or rather the "idea", is a whole another thing to discuss. Now this is important: this is an abstract work of art. You must know by know that any perception of it depends more on the consumer than on the author, even. Keep it in mind. My opinion can't be "right" by default - I'm conveying how I saw it.
Now, let me rephrase the movie's name for a second: "The Story of Life". That's all. This is the most simple, the most beautiful way you can describe the thing. As the two (one and a half?) kittens make their way through the somewhat bizarre world, they witness life, naked. The story makes no remarks about the cruelty of it. Since I have to put this into words... The cruelty here strikes more than any violent movie, anime or other medium would do, because, among other things, it's shown without excessive emotion to hide behind, without reason... It's stated, it's a fact. Yet, it doesn't hurt at all. You know how in a good story, a character's death (if put right) can be extremely depressing, sad..? It's not the case here. The anime makes you experience extreme acceptance. You see and accept the way of life - you're born, you live, you die. You kill to live. You die to feed somebody, you want it or not. So? It's the way it is - it's not anything you have control over, anything you'd want to take control over. Not anything to be happy or sad about, just a fact. That's the feeling I experienced while watching this. It might seem far fetched, or maybe weird, or alien to somebody perhaps, but if you've watched the OVA by now, maybe you'll know exactly how I feel.
In other words, Cat Soup is a perfect depiction to the "Circle of Life" - capitalized to emphasize how it's the idea of the anime. Not only life ends and rises, but so does time and existence, and Earth along with them. There was a very interesting concept of God too, but putting that into words seems unnecessary to me - even I don't exactly know what I'd say - it only imprinted on my subconsciousness.
But broad and general ideas are not the only thing about this work of art (both in the way you'd call any anime a work of art - by definition; and Cat Soup in its own special way). There is a huge amount if miniature episodes, conveying different, often very deep ideas.
The biggest of them all was the circus episode. *To understand what I'm actually talking about, you'd want the whole OVA watched by now.* You should remember God showing miracles, right? It's all the same for him, either to create a chair, or an elephant made of gold. Come to think of it, it's nothing weird - regardless of what you believe in, the sole idea of God implies no difference to him between these objects. Whether he actually exists and thus is there really a difference is a completely different topic though. Now back to my story - shortly after that, people adopted his way; enter the giant bird. And here's the idea, as people tear its left off just to see a little magic. That's us, people; that's how we roll. And then Earth got flooded - isn't it similar to our present world? Although not literally, but you won't find a person who hasn't heard of the story of how we are draining nature's resources and doing reckless things just to live in comfort for a little longer. Shall we keep this up, and there's not much future to await us - be it natural disasters, ecosystem's collapse, a war caused by the ever rising economical and political tensions...
This idea's nothing new... However not only it's relevant today too, but the way how beautifully it was conveyed grants it my mention all by itself.
Also, the flood is not mere coincidence I believe - but it's very symbolic. Don't look at "pulling the bird's leg" as something we are doing right now - it's what will happen in the end, soon or not. It's the "final sin" that's followed by a global flood. Doesn't it remind you of anything? That may be the authors' message regarding our human nature, our "global" lifestyle - and they portray people pretty accurately - at least right now we mostly consume... The boat that the characters use can be perceived as none other but an arc, too. So, pretty symbolic among other things.
All right, that's one of the anime's "human nature" depiction. Note how people perceived "God's" miracles as mere entertainment too.
There's much more to it, but I believe I can begin to conclude my review already. Besides, you'd get 10 times as much if you watch the real thing instead of reading my analysis. I tried not to use cliche'd expressions as "beautiful" when talking about the story, but forgetting about that, the story is indeed "beautiful". And you know, this anime reminds me of a piece of music - in a lot of ways. And what impression did it leave on me? This is something that goes broader that the term "anime" provides. I don't see it as an "anime", but rather as a separate piece of art. Something in between a painting and a musical composition, all animated and given a soul. That creates a problem, though; when I began to rate it. You see, this is not something you can rate the same way you rate other anime, exactly due to the reasons I stated above. I can't put it on the same scales as other anime I've watched.
I usually compare my anime depending on the emotional footprint they left on me. I had a big big depression after watching Neon Genesis Evangelion for example (prior to that too... but NGE propelled it exponentially), or when I read the Deep Love series I cried like a little girl... In other words, I was overfilled with emotion. This isn't the case here, but it isn't the anime's goal either. It's silly to blame a car for being unable to swim. So, if you rate this independently, it's 10/10. Since I (try my best to) approach every movie, anime, book or manga in its own way, looking at what it really is without the interference of genres' cliches and whatnot, Nekojiru-sou is indeed a 10/10. Not the 10/10 you see on every other review, but a special, meaningful 10/10 that reserved the place for this anime in my heart forever. When I put it in my list though, I hesitated for a while. 9 or 10? Because, I'll tell you - it's not as big as NGE, no matter if you loved NGE or not. It's not as big as Gurren Lagann. That's not bad or good. It's different. And there's a lot of things to love it for that you won't find in any NGE or TTGL.
It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times. It’s a tale of two kitties, and i’m not talking about that abysmal Garfield sequel. Nyako and Nyatta are two sibling kittens living in a quaint little house with their parents, a doting homemaker mommy cat and a lazy, slovenly daddy cat. One day, while the older sister Nyako is fatally ill, her little brother Nyatta accidentily drowns while playing in the bathtub. Death doesn’t come for him, however, as a Japanese grim reaper comes for his sister, who passed moments before him. Taking advantage of this unique opportunity, Nyatta pursues the two, finds them
under a series of street lamps, and attempts to wrestle his older sister’s soul away from the deity. Their struggle unfortunately results in her soul being torn in half, with Nyatta and the reaper each getting away with an incomplete soul. Nyatta is revived by his father, at which point he returns the soul he recovered to the body it once inhabited.
His sister comes back to life, but is she truly alive? With only half of her soul intact, she may have resumed breathing, but there’s no light in her eyes, and she’s basically been left in a sort of waking coma. She can eat and drink for herself, providing that you put food and water in her mouth, but she shows no sign of independent thought or movement. Not satisfied with this half-brained husk of a sibling. Nyatta embarks on a journey to bring her back to the way she was. He starts off by visiting a circus that allegedly specializes in creating spectacular miracles, under the hope that she can be revived there, but his hopes are dashed when the two of them are swept up in an odyssey of oddities, becoming sojourners of a strange, surreal space. They’ll battle to survive as they break through the very boundaries of reality, contending against drought, starvation, an unstable time frame, and the cruel whims of God himself, all while finding the answer to one simple, albeit haunting, question: How far would you go for the sake of your family?
If there’s one thing that stands out about JC Staff, it’s that they don’t really seem to have a distinctive style. If I were to look at Excel Saga next to Toradora, or Karin next to Kill Me Baby, or even Index next to Ookamisan, I would never guess they were animated and produced by the exact same company. The majority of their work looks nothing alike, and this is nowhere as pronounced as it is with Cat Soup. JC Staff uses a variety of styles in this project, from fluidly animated traditional style to the kind of broken, frameless style that they’ve used in other anime to give the illusion of frenetic motion to what I can only describe as stop-motion animation of rough, graphic chalk drawings. Some of those styles probably sound cheap to you, but oh no, they spared to expense on this OVA, even though they’re animating what’s basically the story of a world of anthropomorphic animals, which nobody really needs to see in fluid motion. I mean, if you’ve seen the anime this one is based on, it wasn’t exactly the most lavish production.
And these styles aren’t being used randomly, either, there’s a point to them throughout the story. We start out with traditional animation, but something amazing happens with it... Instead of keeping to a two dimensional perspective, JC Staff managed to pull off a three dimensional perspective without using a lick of CGI, employing an inventive use of shading, angles, and the occasional wide-angle lense. This style is largely on display when the cats themselves are on screen, rightfully painting their material as the “Real world” material, or as real as anthropomorphic animals can be. That’s not to say there’s no CG, as I’m pretty sure it shows up for certain shots involving water and gears, and a giant creature summoned during the carnival, but it’s used sparingly, and never as a crutch, instead appearing so that film can take advantage of it’s clash with 2D aesthetic. The broken style comes into play when actual humans are on screen, giving an other-worldly look to what should seem the most familiar to us. It’s also used on a figure that I’m going to presumptively call God, who shows up later on. Still, these people are somewhat cartoony, and to take the disparity between reality and fantasy even further, the chalky aesthetic is used in moments involving photorealistic people.
There’s barely any music, with the first track only appearing around 12 minutes in, and with the exception of the last two tracks used, none of it is really worth mentioning, as what’s left is repetitive and generic sounding. They work well in context, and provide decent background music for certain scenes, but it’s not the kind of thing you’d really want to listen to independently. There is some very real beauty to the last two tracks, however, as a certain spoiler one does sound kind of heartwarming, and the ending tune sounds like an old music box being played with by a child. The opening tune which I didn’t lump in with the others, is your typical anime walking music, but with an old timey echo and a hypnotic underlay of footsteps and everyday noises making it into the likes of something you’ll swear you’ve never heard before. Speaking of everyday noises, while there’s little to no music throughout almost half of it, the sound design is amazing, with everything from the footsteps to chirping crickets to underwater sound distortion making it sound like you’re really there with the characters. There’s almost no dialogue, save for some text balloons accompanied by some meep-meep-meeping, so lets just move on.
I wasn’t planning to write this review... It came about as a result of another idea that popped into my head, that it might be fun to write down my top ten series-based OVAs. This idea led to a second idea, which was “Hey, instead of just taking up one slot in my schedule this winter, how about I write a full review of the number one spot, and make it two?” Well, I wound up backing off of my original number one, when I realized that I’d already reviewed Wolf’s Rain, and I couldn’t talk at length about the last four episodes without giving away major spoilers. A-doy. In comes number 2 to the rescue, and Oh God, it’s Cat Soup. I was simultaneously excited and terrified of the corner I’d backed myself into, because I genuinely love this little film, but I didn’t know if there’d be enough talking points that a guy who refuses to review FLCL could successfully articulate. Upon second watch, however, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. There’s a lot more here to unload then I thought.
First things first, if I’m going to talk about Nekojiru Sou, I need to talk briefly about the whole Nekojiru thing. Chiyomi Hashiguchi was a manga artist in the eighties and nineties who took the traditional image of the good luck cats... The things Meowth was based on? And sent them on adventures that spoke to Japanese youths at the time through a bleak, pragmatic lens that explored the cruelty of the world with a casual, childish approach. It’s basically like if Ayn Rand were to direct a story set in the Busy World of Richard Scarry. Yes, you’ve got anthropomorphic animals talking in human languages and acting like people, but they also hunt and eat each other, both friend and foe. She committed suicide at the age of 31, and while her reasoning isn’t exactly known, there’s speculation that the success and commercialization of her work, combined with the creative exhaustion of having to fill more and more work orders may have overtaxed her already troubled mind. I mean, hell, her two main characters were just about to be adopted as safety mascots when she did it. Imagine how much that would have blown things up.
Likewise, the two animated adaptations of her work were released posthumously. I haven’t read any of her original work, I’m only vaguely aware that her first comic involved a baby cat being killed and turned into soup after a botched neutering was performed to keep it quiet, but I am aware that the two releases represented different sides of her work. The series, Cat Soup Theater, or “Nekojiru Gekijou,” was based on her more common work, the Snoopy-like tales of Nyatta and Nyako. One of the most famous moments from this series involves the older girl’s friend, a pig, being brutally murdered and turned into pork cutlets by her father, who gives just as little of a shit as she does about the fact that he’s scared to die and having the only normal reaction to this deed. He’s ultimately fed to the family, as well as to his clueless little brother, all while his parents... Ahem, ‘pork,’ in the background. This clip was featured in AMV Hell 5 along with a song about how delicious pork is, because AMV Hell 5 wasn’t very good. Sorry, it’s true.
The problem with having such a horrific event take place so early in the production is that there’s really nowhere else to go from there. You can’t very well bank on the shock value of people dying when a slide throws them into a brick wall or a little Tanuki getting shot in the head by Daddy cat when you’ve already gone into such dark territory, and if I’m being perfectly honest, the series wasn’t very good. Maybe it’s because I’m not the specific Japanese audience it was targeting at the time, and yeah, I can see things like this being more entertaining in comic form, but after such a huge bump early on, the rest of the show just felt kinda dull to me. Luckily, it wouldn’t be the only adaptation of Chiyomi Hashiguchi’s work, as we’d soon get Nekojiru Sou, which translates to Cat Soup Grass... Possibly a nod to the other side of her material that it would be representing. Yeah, some of her work was surreal and druggy enough to make Alice in Wonderland’s book look like the Disney version. The cartoon version, not the “Oh-ho-ho, look at silly Johnny Depp gasping whimsically in facepaint” version.
The first time you watch Cat Soup, named in English releases after the creator, it may feel like little more than random weirdness. Even the opening segment is easy to get lost in, as the characters say nothing, and the OVA does little to nothing to explain to the viewer what’s going on. For some people, it takes a plot synopsis online just to figure out that Nyatta drowned just long enough to save Nyako from dying of her illness, and that’s with the giant foreshadowing clue of Nyatta playing in the bath with a truck, which would sink, instead of a floaty boat. Cat Soup relies on it’s viewers to use their brains to interpret and figure out what they’re watching, spoon-feeding you so little that even the little bit of thought bubble dialogue we’re given seems out of character for it. It’s easy to write it off as a couple of kitties eating some badly dated magic mushrooms and experiencing all of the other-worldly weirdness through the lens of their drug-addled eyes, and I’m sure on some level this assumption would be accurate to the comics, but to do so would be seriously reductive of the material.
It took me multiple views to connect as many dots as I have, but Cat Soup isn’t random by any means. There are a few sequences I can’t place any significant meaning to, like a fish escaping from a horde of sword swinging samurai, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no meaning that can be found. For the most part, at least as far as I’ve observed, this thirty minute OVA is packed with complex metaphors that act as an extension of what Hasegawa’s original point was, as it carries two very important and interwoven themes with them. The first theme is the bleak nature of existence. The circle of life isn’t always life affirming like it is in the Lion King. The world is cruel, and life itself is harsh by it’s very own nature. Everything that’s born will inevitably die, and to believe that your brief existence holds any significance to a grand plan or that you’ll leave a major impact merely by existing is a childish illusion. Life continues in a cycle, nobody can escape from it, and even those who consider themselves prey are, in some way, predatory. Even if you don’t eat living things, you still use them, and often without thanks as they die for you.
The other theme, and this may come as a surprise to anyone who can’t get past the casual cruelty of Hasegawa’s work, is the importance of family. The world is full of violence, people and animals die in massive numbers every day, history is full of people committing horrifying acts on one another, but it pays to focus your attention on those closest to you... To treasure and cherish your family and loved ones, because in the end, their lives mean the most to you, and their deaths are the ones you should go to the ends of the earth to prevent. According to Cat Soup, as is shown constantly throughout the film but most noticeably through a callback to the series’ disposal of pig characters, there’s nothing wrong with killing and taking advantage of others for the sake of your older sister, because in the end, she’s what should matter to you. It doesn’t even matter if you’re defying God... God is a fickle being who cares more about his next meal than the lives of people who are just going to be born to die anyway.
I could go on and on with a point-by-point analysis of what everything in this OVA means... Or at least I could try to overcome the futility of doing so... But in the end, you’ve got to experience it for yourself. I haven’t figured everything out yet, but I still have faith that everything in this anime means something, however small, and not a second of screen time was wasted. I could explain the water-elephant, the tall mosquito figures, the stitches on the fat dude’s head, even the ending, but... No, I probably should say something about the ending, because that’s one of the most confusing parts of the show. I’m only ever going to do this once, because I swore I’d never recommend this dude’s work to anybody, but it’s the only way to help you out without spoiling anything. After watching Cat Soup, if you’re confused about the final segment, watch the movie Dogma. I’m not saying it’s a good movie, in fact I think Kevin smith is severely over-rated, but some parts of the movie will go a long way in explaining the end of this one.
Cat Soup is available from... Well, nobody, really. It was released on two different DVD sets by Central Park Media, one in a normal case and a limited edition in a bloodier Liquid Art case, both versions now out of print. Nekojiru’s written works have not been released stateside, nor has the series the OVA was based on, but they can be imported from Japan. If you’re looking to read more on Chiyomi Hashiguchi, you can find an essay online by Thom Bailey at http://www.hz-journal.org/n5/bailey.html.
I don’t think I’m overselling Cat Soup when I call it a surrealist masterpiece. It can be viewed from either the perspective of those looking to find meaning in it as well as by those who are just looking for some weird shit to look at, either to get stoned through or to confuse their friends with, and it works perfectly either way. I don’t entirely agree with everything it says, being that I am christian myself, but I still find it’s representation of a depressed individual’s outlook on life to be fascinating down to it’s core. It’s beautiful to look at, rich with introspection, and somehow manages to have a solid heart behind all of it’s cruel observations. To call it a major improvement over the preceding series would be like calling the Mona Lisa a major improvement over your tween cousin’s selfies. If I can find any flaw in it, it would be that the music was a bit lacking, but it was obviously never intending to have a huge soundtrack, and the brilliant sound design more than makes up for it. I can watch it multiple times a week without getting sick of it, and you should too. I give Cat Soup a 10/10.
God, this was incredibly strange.
It starts off somewhat mundane, but after the opening moments, each scene ended up taking place in another surreal, abstract setting.
In some ways it's like watching a series of surrealistic paintings come to life. The visuals are absolutely incredible, and everything is animated very nicely.
However, the part where it falls apart for me is the incredible lack of a plot, storyline, or character development. The main characters simply go on this wild adventure through these random lands of insanity and they discover them together with the viewer, without having much of a personality at all, simply being there essentially as a
surrogate for the viewer.
Thus, there really isn't much to be said about why any of the stuff on-screen is happening, it simply just happens... for seemingly no reason.
The art is nice, and REALLY interesting to look at, so it's worth watching for that alone. I also really like the soundtrack, which gives the whole thing this creepy, atmospheric tone. However, I can't simply ignore it's faults on the story side of things. It seems as though it's all style and no substance at all.