TNB Night Owl–Cat Soup

Wheel of cheese cut and stacked in front of a stone wall. Photo by Alexander Maasch.

This week’s Friday Night Film is a short Japanese animated piece about cats. They’re cute cats, but you’ll still want to make sure the kids are out of the room for this one. It’s not as if this cartoon is X-rated (although there are scenes of stylized violence) but considering how difficult it is for adults to process, this may send them into an existential crisis. Not to say the movie is bad. Quite the opposite–it’s a fun ride, but it’s a strange, bumpy ride that leads you to a weird place.

CAT SOUP (2001) tells the story of two kittens. They live in a very human-like household with Mommy Cat, Daddy Cat. The parents and other adults ignore the kids, setting up that they’re on their own in this world. When the sister kitten dies, the brother chases down death to steal her back. Instead, her soul gets ripped in half. Brother kitten goes one way with his half, death goes the other. Death informs them that they can get the rest of her soul when they find an orange flower.

Then things get weird.

Brother kitten returns his sister’s soul to her body, which revives her…somewhat. It’s clear she’s not all there. Unable to rely on the grown ups for help, Brother and Sister head on a quest through what I assume is a sort of “Land of the Dead” on their quest for the flower. During their adventures, they happen upon a circus where the “saw a woman in half” trick takes a morbid turn, sail the haunted seas with a pig who feeds everyone with pieces of himself, almost get turned into soup in a demented version of “Hansel and Gretel.”

At least that’s what I think happens. Nothing is spelled out for you. But the visuals are so compelling that it makes the 34 minute ride worth it. Plus, its a fun one to sit around with friends and loved ones to debate its meaning.

In case you want to start your weekend off on a strange little note, here’s CAT SOUP (subtitled, but there isn’t much dialogue anyway):

Question of the night: what’s your favorite soup recipe?

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