I first saw Cat Soup (ねこぢる草) back when I was taking Japanese culture classes at The Ohio State University. We were lucky enough to watch it in class, and it was pretty awesome. Surprisingly, I’d forgotten about it until just recently, so I watched it again. Now I wish that I’d remembered Cat Soup when I was making my Top 10 Strange Japanese Films You Need to Watch list. It would have been a serious contender.

What is This “Cat Soup” You Speak of?

Cat Soup is a 2001 Japanese animated short film (33 minutes long) directed by Tatsuo Sato and inspired by the work of manga artist Nekojiru. The main character is Nyatta, an anthropomorphic kitten (how cute!) and he travels to the land of the dead in an effort to save his sister’s soul.

This movie is super trippy. Lots of crazy things happen along the way that make me go “Wait, what? Really? That’s really happening?” For a short film about cute cartoon kittens, this movie sure is wacky.

The film has received some critical acclaim as well. Cat Soup won an Excellence Prize (Animation Division) at the Japan Media Arts Festival and the Best Short Film award at the Fantasia Festival in 2001, and the Silver Award for Animation at the New York Exposition of Short Film and Video in 2003. Not too shabby.

And Now for Your Viewing Pleasure…

Luckily for you, Cat Soup has been uploaded to YouTube so that anyone may enjoy the wild and crazy ride. It’s not available on Netflix, unfortunately, but the YouTube video quality is pretty good. I’ve included a trailer for Cat Soup below, but if you’re planning on watching the movie anyway, I suggest you just watch the movie so you don’t spoil anything the trailer might reveal. It’s not like there’s really any spoilers in the trailer, it’s just more fun to watch a goofy movie when you have no idea what to expect. And it’s only 33 minutes! Just watch the darn thing.

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And the video below is the full movie. The subtitle group misses a few translations, but there’s hardly any talking in the movie at all, and the lines they miss really aren’t all that important and you can tell from the context what’s going on anyway. No worries. Also be aware that the movie can get a little “graphic.” And by that I mean there’s a little bit of cartoon nudity and gore. It’s not gratuitous or offensive, just thought you should be aware.

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So what did you think? Was it everything you wanted it to be? Think it deserves a spot among the strangest Japanese movies of all time? Or at least among the strangest anime movies of all time? Let us know in the comments!

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  • zoomingjapan

    You had me when I read “cat” – so from the start! *g*
    I was only able to watch the first few minutes as I’m really falling asleep already, so I gotta watch the rest tomorrow. It seems to be super weird, though!

  • Zeldaskitten

    ah i love this movie!  my dvd of it has a pocket of red liquid and little cats floating in it  :P  *goes to watch it again*

  • ジョサイア

    Haha… Defiantly very strange!

  • Erisabesu

    I have this in my dvd collection, 

  • J.

    I watched it and I absolutely loved it! Watched it a second time with my sister (who does not like Japanese “stuff”) and she loved it too. =D I want a kitten now..

  • milos

    Ultimately I see its message as one of hope: there’s always someone there to sew your arm back on, eat your free eyeball, crap your body out and make a flower, barf on you to get you up in the morning, help you out of boiling water by trying to decapitate you, let you jump in their butt when you’re thirsty, crack off a frozen tear from your eye, and reverse time so that… um… all horrific disasters can happen again.

    Father Time loves blood, and… the world on a plate, uh, they turned off… 

    Never mind.  Second look at crazy?    

  • Jgh

    God, that is *well* weird!

  • Abby Sprinkles

    I loved it! Everything is so cute and weird. I was not expecting that ending though. Made me kinda sad ;c

  • simplyshiny

    omg Cat Soup. I watched this….AGES ago….I forgot all about it too….awwww, thanks John!!! 

  • Pete Holland

    meaning of life

  • John

    How could we forget!

  • simplyshiny

    apparently we both suck :P

  • Flora

    Kinda reminds me of “Paprika” in weirdness level.

  • John

    Poor us :(

  • Charmellow

    When I was about 6, I went to my friends house, and one of his mom’s friends brought this movie in, both me and my friend watched it three times in a row. Each time more confused than the last. It was a lot for a 6 year old

  • YackerPeach

    I remember watching that! I used to watch it all the time *_*
    That was years ago :I

  • Ben

    What a fantastic film. Wow. I love all of the metaphors. I hope it’s available on Region 2 / 0 DVD…

    There are a couple other suggestions I have. I saw another short film recently called Shaking Tokyo. Very interesting film with some slightly surreal elements. Overall it was really enjoyable. It’s on YouTube spanned over four parts, if anyone’s interested:
    Part 1:
    Part 2:
    Part 3:
    Part 4:


    Also, I haven’t seen it yet, but Symbol / Shinboru sounds and looks mental:

  • fee_fi_Fiona

     I loved it! Yuu Aoi was gorgeous as always…

  • Tricky88

    Love that movie. 

  • uknowme

    It was really interesting, and I liked it, but i think im  left with more questions than answers…

  • Justdealmads

    I love this movie! I don’t know how my husband found out about it; I think it was actually available on Comcast Cable’s first push into “On Demand” video and other media. Anyway… my husband is the one who showed this to me, and it’s one of our favorite films. It’s trippy, but AMAZING! My favorite part is the unzipping of the pig!!! ^_~

  • Santhe

    What has been seen cannot be unseen…