In the distant future, employees of the Syncam Corporation board a spaceship bound for a newly-discovered planet; while the voyage will take twenty years, deep sleep capsules ensure that the occupants age only a single year. Now, that time has passed and the crew awakens, only to discover a frightening partial transmission from headquarters: two of them are not employees – they are criminals. One by one, members of the group soon begin to die for unknown reasons; and what’s worse, the bodies begin to disappear. Now, these men and women must race against the clock to discover the fakes in their midst, find out the reason behind the deaths, and most importantly, stay alive at all costs!
What would happen if the alien from "Alien" was the alien from "The Thing" and all of the characters were various anime tropes? Lily C.A.T. exhibits multiple direct references to both movies with some semi-original concepts tossed in. Lily C.A.T. turns out to be less then the sum of it's parts but it is recommended if you enjoyed Alien and The Thing. PROS Elements of both Alien and The Thing Gruesome animation CONS Most of the "original" concepts
A claustrophobic space horror featuring character and monster designs from Amano Yoshitaka of Vampire Hunter D fame, Lily C.A.T. is not the best animated or produced film of all time, but it has a certain charm. A lot of its appeal comes through its indebtedness to the Alien franchise, which it apes thoroughly with its design and storyline. However, Lily C.A.T. lacks a strong central character like Ellen Ripley, and suffers badly for it. None of the cast are particularly interesting, and just mimic overplayed tropes before shuffling off to die. Thankfully, however, Amano had more sense than to provide a cheap Gieger rip-off to go along with the rest of the visuals, though there is something reminiscent of another '80s sci fi/horror classic, the Thing, in his designs. Unfortunately, it's poorly explained and doesn't feel overly dangerous, meaning there's a lack of real tension in the climactic moments of the film. Perhaps the best thing about Lily C.A.T. is the captain of the ship, who although he is not given enough time to really develop, provides an interesting window into cryogenic space travel in some of the quieter moments, and strikes avoids the militaristic cliches of many space captains. Indeed, his character feels similar to later space-sailors Jet of Cowboy Bebop and Mal from Firefly. The animation isn't stellar (no pun intended), but it doesn't descend into unwatchable territory, and stays fairly consistent. The character designs aren't overly simple either, so that comes as something of a surprise. As a final note, I should point out that I watched the English dub, which was surprisingly good, a few hokey lines not withstanding.
Lily C.A.T. is a mish-mash of ideas that will be familiar to western audiences: it's basically a combination of Alien and The Thing. It has a couple new ideas (like the alien monster being a colony of bacteria, and the Bishop character being a cat robot instead of an android), but these don't quite make up for the extent to which the rest of the film is a direct rip-off of these two better-known films -- down to setting design, plot points, and even individual animation cuts. One thing I will give it is that, for the time, the creature animations were great: it looks a lot better than the original Vampire Hunter D from around the same time, and the creature animation rivals some of the cuts from Akira's climax the following year. (The animation of the ships is not any better than Macross, and in some cases -- such as the ship's explosion -- is actually much worse.) All in all, it's a fun (if unoriginal) flick and worth spending an hour and a half on if you're not sure whether or not you want to re-watch The Thing or Alien.
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