I think of all the animes that have been made in Japan's history, Cat Soup is one of the hardest to review. What the hell can one say about something so incredibly bizarre?
With mainstream anime, it's generally possible to talk about things like "plot," "characters," or "moral message." Cat Soup flies in the face of such unnecessary baggage. The anime has no recognizable story, the characters have no names and almost no dialogue, and the OVA as a whole doesn't even begin to make any sort of sense.
Even with the similarly constructed Angel's Egg, one has an ample opportunity to comment on the existentialist themes, the various ways the movie could be interpreted, what the characters symbolized, etc (or, in my case, give the anime all ones and say it was boring as hell). Cat Soup does not pretend to have things like "symbolism" or "themes."
Instead, Cat Soup opts to be an enthusiastically unintelligible mind-f***. To call it nonsensical is actually somewhat wrong - this is dissensical. The anime does not make sense, and things that get too close to it will probably make less sense as well. Cat Soup is not only devoid of logic, it emits an aura of anti-logic... and yet, amazingly enough, despite all of this, the anime remains remarkably entertaining.
For one, Cat Soup sports some of the best, most imaginative animation that I have seen in any work. The imagery really is brilliant; while watching, I felt like I was viewing an animated surrealist painting. Salvador Dali would send his love.
Also, I thoroughly enjoyed the sound of the OVA. When present, the music is a kind of fake cuteness that reminded me of the music from Alien Nine. Oddly enough, this music fits the anime well, and is a good pick by the director. Sound effects are sufficiently mind-warping to match the visuals. Also of note, there is no real "dialogue" in the anime; instead, word bubbles are formed over the character's heads, with garbled gibberish to accompany it (anyone ever play Banjo-Kazooie?).
As for the plot, the first 2 minutes of the show start out with one of the main characters accidentally drowning herself in a bathtub. Her soul is then stolen by Buddha... and well, it only goes downhill from there. Cat Soup is almost completely devoid of a coherent storyline, but fortunately enough, that doesn't make the anime any less interesting. Similarly, though lacking in development, the characters still manage to be amusing and memorable.
Total insanity aside, Cat Soup is a very good way to spend 30 minutes. The OVA as a whole is remarkably funny, and this really has some of the best animation around. All in all, I thoroughly recommend it; however, when you see this anime, make sure that comprehensibility is not high on your "priorities" list.
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