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Catblue Dynamite Review

October 26, 2008


There are some days where I wonder if I’m smoking pot and the images displayed on the idiot box are really just psychedelic emanations of my deeper, deranged subconscious. Nothing is real, contradiction is the order of the day, common sense was left with the bouncer, and blue is the most awesomenest color in the universe. To be honest, I’m slowly switching my favorite color from blue to orange, and not that many movies have actually made me feel that way, but it felt like the best way to begin a review of Catblue Dynamite.

This movie is set in the 1970’s, which might be the reason why I feel like I’m smoking pot. It begins with following two drug traffickers, one of whom is a big Sinatra fan (i.e., he has no taste in music), is named Robert, and has a little sister who’s engaged to his partner. I don’t even remember the partner’s name, that’s how high this movie makes me. In any case, they get a tape of one of Sinatra’s songs from their trafficking boss Charlie. They head to a bistro to eat, when a bunch of guys dressed up in lizard suits start bombarding the place with 36.7 million rounds–but since they’re using silencers not even God can hear them. The boys escape, and at this point we switch to a blue-haired girl driving a car. A guy shows up in the street, and the camera makes it look as if she’s going to run him over, but then he shows up in the seat next to her.

Now, as it turns out, this woman, named “Blue,” is actually a catgirl, and the guy, named “John Doe,” is dead. Yes, she’s a medium of sorts. At first, I was thinking that it was simply the most blatant example of FANSERVICE!!!!!! in the entire cosmos. Really, just randomly dropping a catgirl into the middle of 1970’s New York? Fortunately, they seem to explain it (although not adequately enough for me) later on the film, and get on with the plot.

That plot is basically these lizardmen, AKA the “Chameleon Army,” chasing the two drug traffickers, Blue, and John Doe the Dead Guy across town. They have to deal with Bill’s (ah yes, that’s the partner’s name, dude) complete skepticism of Blue’s abilities and her very nature, several people shooting at them, the Chameleon’s leader (who is apparently yet another catgirl) and the troublesome habit of my eyeballs periodically rolling backwards into my head. OK, so that last one was my problem, but it was still a difficulty.

What are the good and bad parts of this film? Well, bear with me because some are on both ends of the aisle. Now, for singularly good stuff, the animation style itself was impressive. It was smooth CGI from start to finish, and definitely gets some major props. It’s very much like Appleseed, although its not close enough to make everyone start screaming “COPYCAT!” There was also the music. Overall it was rather minimalistic, but when it did play, boy did it shine. There’s one fight scene that takes place on a dance floor, and the disco accompaniment was bloody amazing. Forget the fact that they were basically fighting to DDR, it was incredible! Now for the bipartisan parts: first, the dialogue. While on one hand it was pretty good, and the parts where they dropped the f-bomb seemed naturally, there were still some parts where it was either corny, clunky, or both. (Corunky? Clurny? Colurnky? Oh fagedditabotit.) The plot was also rough in places, and Blue’s backstory of being a cat that turned into a human never pleased me. I mean first of all, how do old people tell cats how to change into humans anyways? How would she have understood? And secondly, when you say that you’re “supposed to drink every last drop of your master’s blood,” and then leave the hemoglobic equivalet of Lake Victoria on the floor while you’re busy learning how use a human size tongue, isn’t that like, I dunno, epic fail on the part of the continuity editors? I thought the characters were reasonably good, except they were somewhat one-dimensional. Robert and Bill actually did go through some development, however, Robert accepting Bill as his brother-in-law and Bill accepting that, indeed, when your producer is on drugs, one can have both catgirls and ghosts in 1970’s Brooklyn. Finally, the fight scenes were a bit over the top. I guess I should be slapped for saying such, since it is an anime, but really, does she need to do sixteen spins in order to turn around and shoot the guy behind her? Plus, cat tails are NOT prehensile! If they were, she’d be a “monkey girl.” BIG DIFFERENCE. Is it too much to ask that movie producers study just a wee bit of biology? Oh, and there’s also about fifteen minutes of music videos tacked onto the end.

There’s a bit of an amateur feel to the whole production. To be honest, I need to cut it some slack–it was made in Japan, and for the sake of atmosphere the creator decided to do it entirely with English dialogue and Japanese subtitles. Now while I don’t have a problem with reading subtitles nor with reading Japanese, seeing as how I’ve watched many a fansub and am somewhat proficient with the written Japanese language (hai, nihongo o yomemasu. demo, nihongo o iu no ga chou-heta desu*) there would be no way in hell I would ever watch Japanese subtitles. I’m not that good. I’m very happy, therefore, I watched a version bereft of the subtitles. Unfortunately, it did nothing to help with the atrocious English text used on the front cover of what looked like The New York Times. John McCain may be happy that in this alternate universe, the editors lost whatever knowledge of grammar that they had, and the copyeditors missed a misspelling of “cassette,” but that won’t help him lose–I mean win–Election Day, and it annoys the crap out of a journalism major such as myself. However, going so far out of one’s comfort zone and doing a movie entirely in a foreign language earns an “A” for effort in my book.

However, “effort” does not equal “success.” Okay, in this case it was damn good, but I can’t give it an “A” overall. Instead, its final grade is most definitely a “B.” It needed some polish in places, but otherwise was a damn good film. And having a catgirl who can see dead people as the main character makes a small bit of sense when its a movie about the most famous part of the drug era. Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go do a few lines and clear my brains out.

Final Grade: B

(*Apologies for using romaji in place of native Japanese script. Apparently, Blogger hates Japanese. It appears to be a racist transplated from the 1940s.)

(PS: You can watch this for FREE on Crunchyroll.com. Make sure to get it before some corporate yahoo yanks it because they decided to go out on a limb and license it in the states.)

EDIT: This belongs here. Srsly.

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