Over the last year I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone with anime, eschewing paranormal thrillers and futuristic cop dramas in order to see what other genres have to offer. One of the long standing types of anime is the harem comedy, in which a male lead is surrounded by a growing circle of women. I’ve discovered that while the settings and stories might be different, a number of familiar threads tend to make an appearance. For example:
- The lead is a white knight — kind, gentle and cares deeply for his new friends
- The lead is always accidentally stumbling across women in varying stages of undress
- He is often savagely beaten over perceived sexual transgressions
- The series introduces a tsundere character who despises the lead at first, but grows to love him in the end
- The show will waste no opportunity to show off the girls in some sexually suggestive way (fan service)
Cat Planet Cuties shares many similarities with other titles in the genre, but it stands out from the rest because it is incredibly entertaining. My enjoyment of the show can largely be attributed to its penchant for humor and absurd situations. The lead in this feline-themed tale is a young teen named Kio. A kind and sophisticated soul, his life is turned upside down when he crosses paths with an alien from the planet Catia named Eris who has the body of a woman, but the ears and tail of a cat. Bringing her home, Eris is introduced to Kio’s teacher and two friends, all of whom are incredibly shocked by the sight of this large breasted cat girl.
It is here that things get a little complicated.
Kio’s childhood friend, Manami Kinjou, is an up and coming CIA agent who sees the capture of Eris as an opportunity to get into the agency. Aoi Futuba, Kio’s friend from school, really works for Japan’s Immigration Bureau and is under orders to capture Eris. And finally, Kio’s teacher Maki Itokazu works for Beautiful Contact, a paramilitary organization that doesn’t want a sexy cat girl to be Earth’s First Contact. After a change of heart (and the reveal of the true enemy), Kio’s friends go against orders and protect Eris, who summons her shipmates and initiates diplomatic ties with Japan. To keep Eris safe, the Catians establish Kio’s house as their embassy and employ Aoi and Manami as peace keepers.
Cat Planet Cuties has a lot going for it. It’s funny, it’s charming, and sweet. Although Aoi initially presents herself as a stone cold killer, her demeanor quickly shifts to a shy, lovelorn girl who pines for Kio but expresses difficulty in doing so. Manami is the requisite tomboy who browbeats Kio for various infractions, but harbors feelings for the boy. Eris rounds out the cast and provides much of the show’s comic relief, as her fact finding missions sends her scouring the country looking for fun and exciting things. In later episodes, Eris has to contend with the Pon Farr-like feelings related to her species’ mating season and results in lots of misunderstood groping and fondling. Apart from the trials and tribulations associated with introducing an alien to the sights and sounds of Earth are the various organizations that actively try to capture Eris, such as a quasi-religious groups of cat lovers that want to worship Eris as a goddess and the Dogisians, a (you guessed it) dog-like race of aliens who are the Catians’ mortal enemies. I have to give this show credit. I’ve seen my fair share of cat girls, but I’ve never seen a dog girl before!
There are a handful of other elements that make the series really fun to watch. At the start of each episode, the characters will deliver a monologue that are direct homages to shows like Star Trek and Charlie’s Angels. Eris’ Assistaroids (diminutive robot servants) are always a pleasure to see and by the end of the service, each member of the cast has his or her own cat-like robot that reflects its master’s personality. Manami’s Assistaroid in particular is a Chow Yun Fat lookalike that projects doves into the air before engaging in firefights with guns akimbo.
The animation is better than it has a right to be. Right from the get go, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how well produced the show is. Many of the scenes, whether they are set on beaches, Kio’s house, or the open ocean are rendered in vivid detail. Action sequences are particularly exciting to watch, as conflicts quickly escalate into ridiculous gun fights. As this is a harem comedy, you have to come into this show expecting nudity. It occurs often, usually when the girls are bathing or getting dressed and while it is designed to titillate, it never really feels tasteless or over the top. Compare with Sekirei or Master of the Martial Hearts and you’ll find that Cat Girl Cuties is quite tame.
I’ve become quite fond of Cat Girl Cuties. Although I didn’t think much of the show at first, it quickly found ways to get me hooked. An entertaining story, fun characters, and great shout-outs to pop culture are pluses in my book and the show does a great job with each. The only downside is that the series is quite short, only twelve episodes and an OVA, and I don’t think I’m quite ready to say goodbye to these characters just yet.