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Cat Soup Review

by: sothis
December 30, 2004

story 9/10

Cat Soup screenshot Cat Soup is a bizarre and abstract look at the lives of two young kittens, as they peruse the land of the dead. Then again, knowing that information is hard to discern from watching it once, and odds are, had you not read any review or description, you may have not picked up that fact at all. There is no dialogue in Cat Soup, except random noises used for the characters talking with occasional subtitles (in Japanese characters). Usually these words are very simple, not even full sentences. The story is told primarily through the visuals, and again, are very abstract, making it hard to understand what's going on at all.

Then again, there isn't much to know. The kittens travel through various places in the land of the dead, encountering various people and things, and having various (mis)adventures. Encounters range from things like meeting (and eating!) and pig friend, walking over giant sand dunes with a water elephant, being almost cooked alive by a giant bondage mouse man (I'm not kidding), and having extremities ripped off and sewed back on. These events should paint a clear picture that Cat Soup is definitely dark in nature, and about as messed up as an anime can get. Indeed, it reminded me quite a bit of reading an Edward Gorey story -- Edward Gorey being my favorite author, a man who writes "children's stories" that definitely aren't aimed at children at all, and have a very sarcastic and random tone to them.

Cat Soup is delightfully random and dark, and will make you feel like you just watched something Tim Burton directed while on acid, both for the story and the animation. The abstract nature is confusing, but also fits perfectly with the random (but mellow) tone the OVA is supposed to portray. The ending leaves a little to be desired, but like the rest of the 30 minute OVA, is random in itself. I loved the "story" and randomness of it all, hence the high score in this section.

animation 9.5/10

Incredibly unique and disturbing on basically every level. The artwork combines really cute characters (like the pig, and the cats), with flat out gore and twisted scenery, making for an interesting mix in a matter of seconds, in some cases. The style, when you watch this, will be very reminiscent of Tim Burton or something else dark and sinister. In general, everything about the animation is random. The landscapes are bizarre and charming in their own dark ways, the character designs, as mentioned above, are strangely grotesque and also cute at the same time, and the overall look and feel is appealing. Colors used tended to stay dark and moody, with metallic objects and the occasional bright scenery to contrast with the dark mood. Near the end, there's a scene where the kittens grow extremely fast, we see events happen throughout time (a real shot of an atomic bomb going off, hostages with bags over their heads getting shot, someone getting hit by a car), and then, suddenly, we see everything go in reverse. I won't say why this happens, but it definitely is another example of how unique the animation was. Also very messed up, given the content.

All in all, the visuals told the story, the visuals WERE the entire point of the anime, and they did a damn good job at impressing me.

sound 9.5/10

The music was very amusing. Whoever composed it managed to capture the mood of Cat Soup COMPLETELY. Random, quirky tones were used to demonstrate the randomness, sometimes piano based in origin and other times, just random synthesized notes. I know I keep using the word random, but it fits more than anything. At yet other times, the music was non-existant, which worked well, as well. As mentioned in the story section, there is no dialogue to be found in Cat Soup -- rather, the characters make random chittering or "wah wahhh" type sounds when talking. This, like everything else, made it highly entertaining to watch. Subtitles would be shown as well in bubbles with a few words so you knew what was being discussed. The R1 DVD does translate these blurbs, though you could easily get away with not seeing them translated.

characters 9/10

The characters in Cat Soup are hilarious and strange, just like everything else. Due to the fact that there is no dialogue and/or not a lot of story, there obviously was zero character development as well. This score has nothing to do with development; rather, it is based on the varied cast of characters and how amusing they were.

We have the two kittens who do very strange things and manage to get out of the hairiest of situations. There's the kittens' dad who drinks sake and has huge thick eyebrows, the mom who wears an apron, and most importantly, the bizarre ones who are in the land of the dead.

We are introduced to a pig who has dotted lines and instructions on his body for where to cut a pig. We are shown a very normal looking man who ends up being a bondage guy who wears a mouse hat. We meet a woman who has a very disturbing habit of killing animals and sewing their parts back together. We meet God himself, and see his strange and unusual habits. All of these characters are so strange, and make me wonder yet again what the hell the creators were thinking when they made this! Terribly entertaining though, nonetheless.

overall 9.5/10

Cat Soup is brilliant, in my opinion. It's random, it doesn't make sense, and yet it manages to be completely entertaining on just about every level. I will admit that for those who don't appreciate Tim Burton, Edward Gorey, dark comedy or randomness, you might not enjoy this at all. Looking for a plot? Go somewhere else. Need something lighthearted and fluffy? DEFINITELY not for you. Want something quirky, random, dark and interesting? Check out Cat Soup, definitely.

Anime Info

  • OVA (1 ep x 33 min)
  • 2001

Cat Soup is an extremely abstract, abnormal, and at times, disturbing adventure, from the director of Nadesico. This 30 minute OVA follows two kittens through what seems to be the underworld, as they search for one of their lost souls. Along the way, they encounter new (edible) friends, scary situations, and even the end of the world! Will these felines manage to return unscathed? Or more importantly, avoid becoming the main course for dinner? Confusion abounds in this quirky OVA.


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About the Author

sothis's avatar

sothis

My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.

More Reviews

comments

featheredfear avatar featheredfear
Jun 17, 2012

Cat Soup is absolutely gorgeous and intriguing. The story is deep and does make sense if you know where you are looking, but still very obscure. This is probably my favorite non series anime. 

Ghosty avatar Ghosty
Dec 3, 2010

weird but yet beautiful.

kate0597 avatar kate0597
Nov 14, 2009

Mildly disturbing. But wonderful anyways.

FalseDawn avatar FalseDawn
Sep 8, 2009

Have you seen the accompanying series, Nekojiru Gekijou? It reminds me a lot of Happy Tree Friends. This film is a lot better though - the shorts are a little too out there.

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