In the normal course of things, I like to open any review with a brief synopsis of what the anime in question is all about. When it comes to Cat Soup, however, that rule cannot be obeyed- simply because even after watching it, I have little clue as to what was going on.
A 32 minute OVA, Cat Soup seems to fall into the category of what is usually described as experimental anime, in an “the production staff must have been experimenting with certain illegal substances when they made this” sense. The OVA loosely follows the adventures of a pair of feline siblings, where by ‘adventures’ I mean ‘a series of unconnected and bizarre events whose meaning escapes me’. The younger cat seems the more energetic of the pair, ruthlessly poking and prodding into everything he sees, whilst his older sister appears entirely spaced out and only barely aware of her surroundings. Together they journey through various worlds and scenes; at one point, they are at a circus where a mysterious old man breathes out a putty-like substance and turns it into forms suggested by the audience; later on, they wander the desert together with an elephant made entirely out of water, to name but a couple.
The OVA is made even more impenetrable by the fact there is no dialogue to speak of- there are a few speech bubbles here and there, but aside from a few meows, no one actually speaks. Instead, all focus is on the visuals, which fortunately, are well up to the task of portraying this bizarre world. The animation is fluid, smooth and effective drawing the viewer into the action even when it is impossible to understand what is going on.
It should also be noted that Cat Soup contains a fair amount of violence, most of it casually perpetrated by the feline leads. At the circus, they watch impassively as the blood of a performer spatters over them; on a fishing boat, they cut meat out of a pig, cook it, and feed it back to him; in the desert, they ride inside the removed part of the pig whilst beating him over the head to produce lumps- all in all, this is definitely not an anime for those of a delicate disposition.
Cat Soup is quite possibly one of the most bizarre selections that anime has to offer- completely incomprehensible, yet at the same time, oddly compelling. Those who shun gratuitous violence or a demand a structured storyline would do best to avoid it, but if you are in the least intrigued about this anime acid trip, then it is worth watching for its sheer “wtf!?” nature alone.