Cat Soup -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: NA

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: All Region DVD
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Running time: 34
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Cat Soup

Cat Soup

By Chris Beveridge     July 17, 2003
Release Date: September 09, 2003

Cat Soup
© Central Park Media

What They Say
When little kitten Nyaako’s soul is stolen by Death, she and her brother Natta embark on a bizarre journey through a surreal dreamscape to get it back.

The Review!
One of the more experimental style anime films to be made, Cat Soup is set to serve up an interesting show for a particular audience.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese and in the 5.1 track. There’s no real dialogue to the show, though some sounds are made by the various characters at times throughout. The 5.1 track provides some rather good crispness to the audio but there’s not much audible going to the rear speakers. Also included is the original stereo mix as well as a commentary track. Since there’s no real dialogue in the show, there’s no English track on here.

Originally released back in 2001, the transfer here looks fantastic. With only a 34 minute runtime and lots of space to fill, the quality really shines through. Other than some slight shifting in some of the black sequences, there’s nothing to really complain about here as colors are solid and properly saturated, cross colorationi s non-existent and even aliasing is extremely minimal. The most that might show up for folks, depending on their gear, is some chroma noise during some of the bloody moments of the show.

The style of the show is very evident from the front cover with the two cats sitting in the cogs of the machine, their bodies and clothes providing the only real color here. It’s pretty distinctive but will likely be thought of as a kids show if it’s just glanced at. The back cover provides a couple of shots from the show and a brief summary of the plot. The discs features are nice and clearly listed, though the runtime is far too small for my tastes. CPM earns extra kudos for this release with its usual reversible cover but this time providing a nice full color reverse side, though they went the cheaper route by using a different kind of paper and just folding it over as opposed to real double sided printing. But with the nice artwork, it’ll look good in a clear keepcase.

The main menu is a very cute piece that works rather well, as it has the lead kitty looking into the bath and the selections are in the form of air bubbles, where when you move the cursor over them they light up with what function they perform. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is very attractive and fun to use.

With such a short running time, the extras are rather important with this kind of release. They don’t disappoint either, so those who are fans of this show will be happy. There’s a brief video art gallery of about 45 seconds that gives some of the more interesting shots of the show a bit of extra time to shine. There’s an interview with the shows creator, “How to Make Cat Soup” that runs just under thirty minutes in length which is original to this release I believe and provides a number of great insights into the show, its production and why Sato wanted to make such a thing. And while it’s not included in the extras section, the directors commentary track that plays during the show itself on a separate audio track is definitely worth mentioning here, allowing him to make shot specific comments and explaining things as it goes along.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
To be honest, I don’t think there’s any real way to describe this show outside of the small blurb that’s given on the back cover. Anything else will sound like this to anyone you tell it to:

“Dude, there’s this show, and it’s got these two cats. The little boy cat, he goes and mentally battles this strange looking guy and steals back his sisters soul and returns it to her body. But it’s not, you know, complete, so the two cats go on this journey of discovery to find this orange flower that will like really re-awaken his sister to life and the two can then live happily ever after.”

Any variation on that, especially if in a very intellectual manner, will undoubtedly be discerned as someone trying to cover up a drug induced hallucination. Of course, this is somewhat common with a number of experimental style art films throughout the world, but usually more so wit those done in animation form. Cat Soup is one of the few that we’ve really seen in the anime world that’s at least sold and marketed as anime. The show plays out pretty much as that single paragraph describes, but with all the weird things along the way. Elephants made of water, pigs eating parts of themselves, samurai’s slicing up a fish that’s on the run as well as the darker parts such as when the sisters soul is stole and the bizarre fight that the brother gets into with the creature that took it.

And never mind the truly freakish moments during the circus when the Gandalf caricature comes out and performs all of his magic, including slicing up a human woman, spinning the parts through the air and then reforming the body for the enraptured audience.

What I initially didn’t like was the haphazard way CPM dealt with the text on the screen. Some of the areas were soft subtitled. Others were hardsubtitled. And in the areas where you have a character speak, and they provide a little word balloon that has the Japanese text in it, it’s overlaid with the English text for about half the time and the other half is done in Japanese.

What I didn't realize is that they were actually soft subtitles and completely removable. The look and feel of them completely reminded me of the usual hard subtitles that we've seen on recent CPM discs (and having just watched a number of CPM discs the days preceeding this). My initial thoughts on them being hardsubtitles and then being told otherwise really surprised me. I'm definitely pleased that there are none here and appreciate it.

I’m pretty much at a loss when it comes to this. It’s different, it has some interesting moments, but halfway through I found myself checking the time remaining counter. That alone probably sums up my feelings best about this show.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Director Commentary Track,Director Interview,Dolby Digital 5.1 Sourround,Cat Soup Trailer,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic DMR-E20 DVD Recorder, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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