05 December 2006

Ink Blots XLI - Catnapped! The Movie

Welcome to Cats Month. Strangely, next to mice, cats seem to be the most popular topic for animated movies, providing me with a wealth of choices this month. So, I will try and avoid the most obvious selections and present a few surprises.

Up first, Catnapped! The Movie. This little film comes from Japan and is reminescent of the works produced by Studio Ghibli, though it is more of a little kids movie. First off, the title of the film is a bit of a misnomer. Since kids are "kidnapped" regardless of who takes them away. A catnapping should involve someone stealing away some cats. Right? Well, perhaps the translation was just off, but this film actually involves the alleged kidnapping of two children by cats (still a kidnapping). I say alleged, because the kids pretty much went along on their own volition. Speaking of thing being lost in translation, I am not sure if there is some sort of Japanese myth about a cat kingdom, but both this film and a Studio Ghibli film, The Cat Returns, both feature mystical cat kingdoms where when people enter, they turn into cats. In any case Catnapped! The Movie coming out in 1998 beat The Cat Returns by several years, so if one is a "copy cat," it is The Cat Returns (though The Cat Returns is probably also a better film overall).

In Catnapped, Toriyasu an ordinary 10-year-old boy (who takes out his frustrations on his helpless hound) and his little squeaky voiced sister Meeko are awoken one night by felines. You see, Toriyasu's dog, Papadoll, has gone missing. He has been "dognapped" and taken to the cat kingdom where he has transformed into a monster who does the bidding for the evil princess Buburina. Some good cats have come to get Toriyasu to come and tame his pet and save the cat kingdom. Off the kids go to the cat kingdom, also known as Banipal Witt. Along their way they cross some colorful landscapes reminiscent of the voyage in Yellow Submarine. Once arriving in the colorful carnivale-like cat kingdom, the kids turn into cat people. They have just one day to find get Papadoll before they too transform into monsters. This may not prove too easy a task as Buburina has a power of her own. As a bratty child, she caused harm to come to the daughter of a sorcerer. Now everyone she touches turns into balloons, and if she gets really mad, she will not only balloonify her enemies, but pop them as well.

While the colorful and creative cartoony designs in this film are great, the actually animation is just so-so. Also, the film is aimed more at young audiences as compared to Miyazaki's films that appeal to all ages. The human characters are well developed, but I did not find myself too attached to any of the cat folk. They all seem relatively interchangeable. Still, the story is fun, and clever with a timeless quality to it. While it may not be up to the same quality level as The Cat Returns of other Ghibli films, very few movies are. Lastly, Catnapped! The Movie teaches kids to be nice to their pets, so I am giving it a B.

Support SERVEwithCHIPS: Catnapped! The Movie (Geneon Signature Series)


Reel Fanatic said...

I've loved all the Studio Ghibli movies, and I'm basically a kid in grown up's clothing, so I'll give this one a chance .. thanks for the head's up

Chip Chief said...

Same here. Like I said, its not as masterful as Ghibli films, but it is more similar to them than to your average mecha/schoolgirl animes.