I am not a big fan of anime outside of Miyazaki's films, but the fanciful designs on this DVD caught my eye. I'm glad they did because although this movie doesn't seem to have built up much of a reputation it is a real gem.
The story involves a boy and his younger sister whose dog Papadoll is missing. They find out that he has been abducted by anthropomorphic cats to be brought to a world called Banapal Witt, which is built on top of a giant sleeping cat. There the sun turns poor Papadoll into a bizarre giant monster. He becomes the weapon and beloved pet of a spoiled Princess who turns everything she touches into balloons. She plans to use Papadoll and a giant inflatable mouse to control the sleeping cat and thus Banapal Witt itself.
Sound weird enough for you? This story is dreamy and fun in a way reminiscent of Winsor McCay's Little Nemo stories. I like the way it is full of weird touches like the Princess's balloon curse, which at first are nice because they are so nonsensical, but which then are explained in sad flashbacks. The film did not have as powerful of an emotional effect on me as Miyazaki's classics like Kiki's Delivery Service and Porco Rosso, but it is so jampacked with interesting gimmicks and inventive imagery that its charms are irresistible. The animation is of a much higher quality than your average anime, but it doesn't even have to be because the designs are so superb. I will definitely be looking out for more from the designers of this film, who have created some the most interesting contraptions and creatures I have seen in a long time.
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