One summer day, a little cat sees his sister being led away by a mysterious stranger. He chases after them only to find that the stranger, Death, refuses to let her go. The cat pulls and tugs on her hand, but he can only get half of her back. Will the cat ever find the lost half of his sister’s soul?
summary by Madoka
Highs: Memorable scenes and imagery
Lows: Lacks coherent themes and plot; may disturb some viewers
Cat Soup lacks spoken dialogue and a real plot, yet the images and scenery will undoubtedly affect the viewer. Cat Soup is one anime that is sure to inspire many conversations, but the lack of a plot and jumbled symbolism keep this anime from being one of the best.
With no dialogue and very little music, Cat Soup is entirely dependent on the scenes and images it presents. Equal parts disturbing and fascinating, the anime explores a dreamlike landscape that makes little sense. Even with the uncomplicated animation, the bizarre characters and unexpected gore that are present in most scenes are effective, disturbing and certainly not for the squeamish. The images will stick in the viewer’s mind and seem to hint at larger themes and symbolism, but there is not enough to piece together any real conclusions about the intended message of the story.
Although the larger ideas of life and death are easily gleaned from the scenes and images, other recurring symbolism (such as the depiction of whales and elephants) never forms into a coherent theme. The images become jumbled as the story wanders; with no plot, much of the story seems to be the journey of the silent characters from one weird situation to another rather than a complete story. Nonetheless, each image will mean something in particular to each viewer, and struggling to find meaning in the symbolism can add a certain kind of enjoyment that most anime do not provide.
Viewers who are tired of typical stories and enjoy exploring ideas and themes from an anime will find Cat Soup a pleasant yet slightly frustrating challenge. If you prefer straightforward and concrete stories, however, your time is probably best spent watching something else.
Highs: Unique style and storytelling method
Lows: It’s an acid trip
Let’s not beat around the bush: there isn’t a whole lot to say about Cat Soup.
If there’s one thing you can give this anime, it’s that nothing else has the same style. There’s practically no sound at all; cats and people squeak undecipherable words to one another to communicate, and music is kept to a minimum, lightly used on a few occasions. The only form of real communication is constrained to dialogue bubbles shown every so often and also by quiet interaction between each other and the world they’re exploring. In addition, the designs and various situations that pop up are concurrently lavish but also very weird. With Cat Soup‘s storytelling style limited to such means, it makes for a very atypical anime.
Just keep in mind that Cat Soup is an acid trip. If you think that anything in here is symbolic of something from reality (God, destiny, Milli Vanilli, etc.), you’ll run into a dozen other theories describing what this anime is all about. With the use of imagery that’s simultaneously interesting and disturbing, it is impossible to make sense of everything that’s being thrown around. Even trying to fully grasp the story is very difficult, and it is only thanks to the back of the DVD case that I was able to gain some understanding of what occurred.
It’s difficult to place this anime into a specific genre because everyone will walk away with their own distinctive impression; some may freak out, be quietly fascinated or laugh uncontrollably. Words cannot properly describe it, and you have to see it to truly believe it.
Cat Soup can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.