Cat Soup
Director: Tatsuo Sato

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Kiki's Delivery Service Kiki's Delivery Serive (Majo no Takkyubin, 1989) was was aimed too young & the central characters were the same cliches seen in far too many forgettable kiddies books with a witch & her flying broom & a black cat.

Kiki's family sends her out into the world, as it is the tradition that at a given & rather too young age witches are supposed to go adventuring.

Kiki's Delivery ServiceEven witches gotta hold down lame jobs, though, so Kiki becomes a baked-goods delivery girl, her broom being faster than an ordinary child laborer's bicycle.

The voices for this Japanese anime are extremely well-cast into English. But not much more can be said of it than that, except that if Saturday morning cartoons were to be the comparison, this is much better than that. But there is very little new here, it's relentlessly smiley-buttonesque, & the design is Anime Minor too.

Anyone expecting the genius of Miyazaki's Spirited Away (2001) will be disappointed. Still, for little kids, or anime fans who so often haven't a lick of taste in these things, I think it'd be quite the film.

Cat Soup Cat Soup (Nekojiro-so, 2001) had my mouth agape with wonder. Surrealism & bleak black comedy combine with an eerie preciousness that transforms hello-kitty cuteness into a crazed dream of beauty & terror.

Told almost entirely in mime (with occasional dialogue printed in baloons), the characters epitomize sweetness blending into the eerily bizarre, as the fevered kitty Nyako undertakes a ghost-quest with her drowned baby brother Nyatta. It's a tragedy-laced journey through a wicked kalaidoscopic afterlife.

Nyako's brother sees the defender of children's ghosts, Jizo-sama, lead his sister's spirit away, & rushes to try to bring her back. Nyatta grabs his sister & manages to snatch away half her soul, so that she lingers neither alive nor dead in her sickbed.

Cat SoupHaving had an accident in the bath, Nyatta is able to join his sister's half-spirit in the afterlife, as they undertake a spiritual journey to find the means of reuniting Nyako's divided soul.

The landscapes they pass through are beyond fantastical, with as much to do with Salvidore Dali or Max Ernst as of any manga, anime, or children's novel.

Cruelty abounds as when big sis & baby brother bludgeon a child-like pig in order to eat the lumps off his head; or for dinner, a bird on a string is burned alive.

It's mesmerizing as beauty collides with horror, as with the adventure with the gory god-sorcerer at the whale circus, & the bird who swallows the sky then drowns the world; or the desert hermit who saves the kittens from starvation only to add them to his soup, & the kittens' own slasher-brutality in saving themselves.

Cat SoupThe surrealism trebles as the brother & sister boldly press forth sharing their macabre aesthetic experiences. There is the discovery in the desert of an elephant made of water.

They journey through time & space as the very fabric of the universe comes undone. They find at last the weird healing flower in the swamp of metal flora.

Throughout we can only wonder whether or not both kittens are dead & eternally trapped in this hellish afterlife, Sis dead of fever, Brother face-down in his bath.

This ever-shifting weird world is perhaps comparable to that of the Czech masterpiece Fantastic Planet (1973) but is even more ferocious in its oddity. Cat Soup is one of the most gorgeous works of animation the world has ever been given.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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