The Star of Cottonland
Chibi-Neko is a young kitten who has been abandoned. She doesn’t know she has been abandoned, and doesn’t know the difference between cats and humans. Indeed, she imagines herself as a human girl and believes she will become human someday. She is found and rescued by a boy named Tokio, who has just graduated from high school. However, he flunked the entrance exams and now is not sure of his future or what he will do. Chibi-Neko soon begins to love Tokio and wants to become a human and marry him someday. But then she sees Tokio with another girl in the park, and sees that he is in love with this girl. She also keeps getting visited by Raphael, a mysterious male cat who tries to tell her that cats cannot become human, they are always cats. What will Chibi-Neko do?
This movie is probably the best definition of a "hidden gem", as many people have never heard of it. Indeed, I had never heard of it before seeing it on AnimeSuki one day. I was intrigued by the title, so I went to a page about it and fell in love with the beautiful artwork and the interesting-sounding story. It was then that I decided to see this movie.
First off, an important note. Although Chibi-Neko is depicted as your traditional anime catgirl, this is only how she imagines herself. The human characters in the story only see her as a regular cat and not in her catgirl form. Likewise, the other cats in the story are depicted the same way – they look like humans with cat ears and cat tails to Chibi-Neko, but to the human characters they look like ordinary cats. I thought this aspect of the story was very unique, although it may be confusing to other viewers at first. The story is also a rather deep and philosophical one. It may look like some doinky cutesy anime on the surface, but there are actually many profound metaphors to adolescence and growing up and coming of age and trying to find your place in life. I really appreciated that aspect of the story.
The characters also grow and develop throughout the movie, Chibi-Neko especially. At first she is naïve and inexperienced and only wants one thing in life, to become a human. However, she soon become a more mature and experienced ... er ... cat throughout the course of the movie. Tokio’s portrayal was a little bit bland though – I have the feeling that the original manga probably fleshes out his character more. Generally, though, I liked the rest of the characters.
Now for the best thing about this movie: the art. The art and animation are gorgeous and detailed, right down to the flowers and trees. The character designs, although wispy, are also very pleasant to look at. This is quite impressive seeing that it was done long before CGI. As for the songs and music, they were all right, but they didn’t really stay in my mind for long. They were just ... there. Most of the seiyuu do a good job, although Chibi-Neko's seiyuu was a little annoying.
Overall, it was a good movie and one that I would recommend if you can take the time to find it. I know I was pleasantly surprised by it – hopefully you will, too.
A good, severely underrated movie. Drop a star if you can't stand anything with the remotest hint of a catgirl in it. — Jennifer Berman
Recommended Audience: There isn't a lot in this anime that is objectionable, but the somewhat slow pace and the more mature aspects of the story might not be suitable for young children. Probably those 13+ would appreciate it the most.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Full (1/1)
The Star of Cottonland © 1984 Ooshima Yumiko / Hakusensha / Mushi Productions
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