Cat Soup – Nekojiru-So
Cat Soup (ねこぢる草 Nekojiru-So, lit. Nekojiru Grass) is an award-winning animated short film directed by Tatsuo Sato, inspired by the work of manga artist Nekojiru. The surreal black comedy follows Nyātta, an anthropomorphic kitten, on his travel to the land of the dead and back in an effort to save his sister’s soul.
Cat Soup was released direct-to-DVD on February 21, 2001.
Nyāko, the older sister of Nyātta, lies very ill in her room. By accident, Nyātta sees his sister leaving the house holding hands with the Japanese version of Ksitigarbha, (known as Jizou in Japanese) and follows them. Nyātta claims one half of his sister’s soul by pulling one arm. Nyāko’s soul gets split in two, and her brother runs away with one half. Jizou sends a clue about a flower they must search for in order to retrieve the missing part, then walks away with the other half.
Nyātta returns home to find the doctor telling his parents that his sister is dead. Nyātta gets closer with the half-soul in his arms and puts it back in his sister’s body through her nose. Nyāko wakes up braindead. Nyātta and Nyāko travel together and visit a circus (where god is represented as a magician). The final act causes a flood of water, which covers everything. The two of them end up on an Arc-esque boat with a pig, which they eventually begin to eat (by unzipping his stomach and pulling out butcher slabs). God drains the world of the oceans, leaving the cats and pig stranded in a desert. The pig bites off Nyātta’s arm, which is repaired by a desert-dweller who makes dolls from the pieces of other cats.
Traveling across the desert, they are brought to a house by the smell of food, and are invited inside by a man. They are fed, and when full the man attempts to turn them into soup, attacking them with a pair of scissors. He ends up falling into the cauldron, and the cats escape. Wandering further across the desert dehydrated, Nyātta digs and finds an elephant made of water, which cools them off and travels with them, though the elephant eventually evaporates from the heat. God accidentally stops the flow of time and disrupts space, and the cats play with the time-frozen scenes. God turns time back on, shooting it forward and reversing it, and the cats find themselves back on their boat in the ocean. They drift into a marsh of metallic plants and creatures, coming across the flower that restores Nyāko to normal.
Nekojiru (ねこぢる) January 1, 1967May 10, 1998; was a Japanese female mangaka. Her real name was Hashiguchi Chiyomi (橋口 千代美) her maiden name was Nakayama (中山).
In 1990, she debuted in the June issue of the monthly manga anthology Garo with Nekojiru Udon, which is now considered her definitive work. She committed suicide on May 10, 1998. At the time, the media suggested that it was a reaction to the death on May 2, 1998 of the musician hide in response to that theory, Nekojiru’s husband, Yamano Hajime, said that Nekojiru’s musical taste was in a completely different genre to hide, and that her death was unrelated. He stated that “She probably hasn’t listened to even one second of hide’s music”. Without a suicide note, her motivation for suicide remains unclear. Other suggestions include that it was caused by drug use or anxiety over Yamano’s womanizing.
Shortly before her suicide, Nyāko and Nyātta, the two main characters of Nekojiru Udon, were selected to be used by Tokyo Electric in promotional campaigns. However, the death of their creator caused that to be cancelled.