I Am a Cat (Wagahai wa neko de aru) (1975)
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Audience Reviews for I Am a Cat (Wagahai wa neko de aru)
"The Doctor eased the shelf up, opening an escape route. Almost before he had finished, the cat had scurried away, over the counter. For an instant it paused, granting his saviour one of the rarest things in the universe: feline gratitude. And then he had gone, out through the catflap in the back door." - from "Doctor Who: The Dying Days" by Lance Parkin, Chapter 11
"I Am a Cat" starts with an English teacher, Kushami(Tatsuya Nakadai), hanging out with two of his pals, Meitei(Juzo Itami) and Kangetsu(Nobuto Okamato), a physics student who also plays violin on the side which is how he met Tomiko(Hiroko Shino), a daughter of a wealthy businessman, Kaneda(Shinsuke Minami), who donates money to the military college near Kushami's residence.(Kushami pays closer attention to a stray cat who has crashed at his house than his three children. It is not surprising when considering the complexity of the cats' lives.) Kaneda also has designs on becoming a minister. Kangetsu has a mad crush on Tomiko, so her father is sending out feelers as to whether he is suitable to marry his daughter.
"I Am a Cat" is an uneven and episodic tragicomedy that is at its best an absurdly funny and revealing look at Japan in transition around 1900 when Western influences were first being seen, especially regarding fashion and baseball. What is also on display is status and the rise of the nouveau riche, as they seek power with the money they have obtained. But not even Kushami who is at the center of the movie can see what is truly important which is that there is nothing worse than being alone.
(Originally reviewed in the blog section on July 3, 2008.)
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