Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
Catnapped! (known in Japan as Totsuzen! Neko no Kuni Banipal Witt) was originally released in 1995. It is a family-friendly anime film created, written, and directed by Takashi Nakamura; Nakamura also served as the film’s character designer. Outside of Catnapped!, one of Nakamura's best-known credits is serving as an animation director on Akira.
The setting for Catnapped! is a place called Banipal Witt. Banipal Witt is populated by anthropomorphic cats, and is ruled by a cruel witch princess named Buburina. Two human children from our world end up in Banipal Witt after their dog, Papadoll, is stolen by Buburina's henchman, Doh Doh. Buburina, who has the ability to turn any living thing into a balloon by simply touching it, plans to use Papadoll to take over the world. By having a prolonged exposure to Baniapl Witt's light, Papadoll has mutated into a monster that is terrorizing the city. When the children, Toriyasu and Meeko, are taken to Banipal Witt by three scientist cats, their exposure to Banipal Witt's light turns them into cats. The children have until the next sunrise to turn Papadoll back to normal and return to their world. If they do not, then the children could end up with the same fate as Papadoll.
Catnapped! clocks in at 75 minutes, and the film utilizes its short time to its fullest to tell the story. My children watched this film with me, and seemed to enjoy it. I, however, felt as if I was watching someone's drug trip. Right at the beginning of the film, it feels like a rather normal story, but once Banipal Witt is introduced, the story becomes rather strange. While Catnapped! is definitely a fantasy story, I think Nakamura took the "fantasy" part of it a little too far. However, I do have to give credit for the animation style used in the film. The animation definitely fits in with the fantasy feel that Nakamura appeared to be striving for.
The DVD itself was rather disappointing. There were only two special features: a character information section that showed pictures of each character and a short write-up for each one, and a slide show featuring a few shots from the film. Also, it was frustrating that when I put the DVD into the player to watch it, the film started to play instead of going to the disc's main menu. But from looking at the copyright date on the disc, it was released in 1998; this means this would be a disc released during the first year or so of DVDs being put out, which would explain the skimpy special features.
Catnapped! is a film that can be appreciated by children, but will leave adults watching with them scratching their heads.
In order to write this review, I checked out a copy of this DVD through the King County Library System.