a.k.a. Totsuzen! Neko no Kuni Banipal Witt
Toriyasu and his little sister Meeko have a dog named Papadoll. This cowardly and slothful creature one day goes missing. Good riddance? That is what Toriyasu thought until the day strange, anthropomorphic cats arrived to take him and his little sister to Banipal Witt, a land where Papadoll has strayed. Now mutated in a monstrous super-dog, he is wreaking havoc on this planet of the cats, controlled by a tyrannical princess cursed to turn everything she touches into balloons. If Toriyasu and Meeko do not want to join Papadoll as rampaging monsters, they will need to bring him back before the next sunrise.
summary by Kjeldoran
Highs: Originality in design and storyline; characters generally well-developed
Lows: Missing info on key characters; too short
What motivated me to buy this picture after only seeing a short trailer was the highly original design that looked like nothing I had seen before. This aspect was no disappointment even from the introduction credits, which displayed modeling clay and stop motion animation. Directed, written and designed by Akira‘s chief animator Nakamura Takashi, Catnapped! is a feast for the eyes with its surreal and imaginative environment. Some scenes would benefit from more detailing, but the awe in which the wonderland of Banipal Witt leaves us diverts the attention.
Even if it is hard to ignore that this movie was probably aimed at an audience younger than myself, some of the character development was surprisingly profound and touching, putting Catnapped! in the category of movies anyone can enjoy among My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Unfortunately, being an avid character development fanatic, I felt this anime ended too soon without properly tending to all of its major characters. Chu Chu and Doh Doh, for example, are developed with mere teasers of how poignant their pasts are… or could have been. This anime’s conciseness also rushed the story’s unfolding and did not succeed in making it truly sustaining; too bad considering it had all of the prerequisites to go the distance.
Catnapped! combines the fun and subtle morals of children’s tales with the character depth of compelling dramas. It could have been better, especially when compared to anime aimed at a more mature audience. Yet, the fact that it can keep its head high when evaluated with the same standards as such features is something most family films cannot achieve.
Highs: Imaginative setting; moves quickly with little lag
Lows: Not much background; flat characters
It takes a lot for an anime to transcend its appeal beyond an intended demographic. Catnapped! is such an anime. While obviously a movie made for children, I still managed to derive much enjoyment from this little gem.
Despite a very simplistic art style, Catnapped! is filled with lush colors and wildly inventive backdrops. Smooth and well-directed animation makes this a tasty treat for the eyes. And while I do consider this a humorous show, I only actually muttered a chuckle a couple of times; the humor is based more on the simple, serene antics of the lovable characters than from actual jokes. Overall, the light, floaty atmosphere borders on a near euphoric experience.
While the fact that this anime pretty much jumps into the action from the start and doesn’t let up until the very end is a good thing, the concentration on moving from scene to scene affords very little opportunity for much character advancement. Aside from Toriyasu, all of the other characters are fairly static and merely fill their roles in the story. Then again, not too much depth can be expected from an anime geared to capturing the interests of children.
Despite its shortcomings, I walked away feeling like that hour or so was well spent. No, I didn’t get in touch with my inner child like I had with the wonderfully nostalgic My Neighbor Totoro, but just because Catnapped! isn’t a prime cut of filet mignon doesn’t mean it can’t satisfy my appetite for a tasty anime.
Catnapped! can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.