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Wata no Kuni Hoshi (Mushi, 1984)




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Wata no Kuni Hoshi is a feature anime film based on a very popular manga series by Yumiko Oshima. Running from 1978 to 1987, the manga tells the adventures of an abandoned kitten who is adopted by the young student Tokio. Chibi-neko's adventures are told in a realistic, slice-of-life way, but from the point of view of a cat who is convinced she is human. In a pleasantly fairy-tale way, it remains true to cats' behavior and (so far as we humans can discern it) believable feline psychology.

In 1978 Wata no Kuni Hoshi received the Kodansha Manga Award in the shojo category, and in 1979 it was voted the most popular series in the magazine LaLa. It is credited for introducing and popularizing the "catgirl" theme in manga/anime. It was adapted to anime in 1984 by the reorganized Mushi Production, the pioneering studio founded by Osamu Tezuka and restructured after its initial bankruptcy in 1973. As in earlier Mushi productions, all the cels are hand-traced rather than using the newer xerography process of printing them onto the acetate.

The character designer, Katsumi Aoshima, contributed significantly to Dragon Ball Z and to Urusei Yatsura. Miina Tominaga, the seiyuu for Chibi-Neko, has an enormous part, as much of the movie is portrayed in stream-of-consciousness mode. She carries it off quite well, myths and meows alike. She has a lengthy resume of other roles she has created or dubbed, most notably the youthful martial arts student Yahiko Myojin in Rurouni Kenshin. Bin Shimada did the voice for Tokio (and also that of Zangulz in Slayers).

Neither the manga nor the movie have ever been licenced or adapted for an English audience. There is an interesting review of the manga in Slightly Biased Manga that includes a number of scans of pages from the Japanese version. And Justin Sevakis presents an excellent analysis of the movie in Anime News Network's column Buried Treasure. A good fansub is readily available at several online streaming-video sites including YouTube. Sadly, while attractive cels do pop up for auction, none seems at present to be held in any other Rubberslug gallery.

The title is commonly translated "The Star of Cottonland," a rather enigmatic title for a kitten's life story. When the mysterious tom cat Raphael presents his beatific vision of the cats' paradise to Chibi-Neko, he calls it "Wata no Kuni," (or "the Land of Cotton"). It is a trouble-free realm lined with soft puffs of cottony clouds, ruled by its "Hoshi" (Star), a lovely feline goddess. Raphael, however, is a cynical agnostic tom who decides to jump the life to come, and decides that Chibi-Neko is the true "Star of Fluffyland," the be-all and end-all so far as he is concerned. And thereby hangs a tail ... er ... tale.


 Raphael

 Tokio brings Chibi-Neko home

 Suzuki Buchineko

 Chibi-Neko in a panic

 Tokio gives Chibi-Neko a bath
 

Curator: 60something-sensei
Gallery Created: 8/3/2002
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