Fun movie; plot is somewhat typical; interesting use of CGI
I recently saw Atagoal: wa neko no mori, aka "Atagoal: Cat's Magical Forest," at a showing in Washington, DC.
Hideyoshi, a fat cat who loves to party down and above all eat TUNA, lives in the cat village of Atagoal. After a night of particularly hard festivities that virtually destroys the town, Hideyoshi uncovers and resurrects Pileah, the plant queen who seemingly only wants to sing with the villagers and to spread mutual peace throughout the land. But Hideyoshi and his friends soon discover that the queen's twisted version of peace is more about conformity and control than harmony and acceptance. The fat cat and his friends must defeat the queen to save the village and world from the queen's sinister grip.
Atagoal is a fun anime, good for the entire family, though it suffers from many flaws that might put off those not used to the genre. For one thing, the plot dives right in, with no introduction, explanation, or development regarding the village or the characters. I almost wondered if perhaps this was a sequel because of the lack of introduction. The pace is slow at times and frenetic at other times. The editing sometimes feels like it was geared towards those with attention deficit disorder.
Anime and manga devotees will probably notice that most of the characters are standard archetypes of the genre: the fun-loving fat cat (who, to be honest, is pretty one-dimensional); the mysterious, sword-wielding warrior-sage; the human boy and girl who accompany Hideyoshi and who inexplicably reside among the cats. Similarly, many of the general themes and plot elements will be familiar to anyone who has watched a few anime.
Atagoal is also notable for its integration of CGI, a growing departure from the meticulous hand-drawn art of most Japanese studios. The film does not abandon its 2-d roots and the overall result is fresh. Seeing a Japanese take on CGI makes the movie worth checking out.
On a technical note, I had a hard time reading many of the subtitles, which were frequently white text on white background.
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