Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat in Space

Tagged: Film

Japanese animated film (2007). Kinétique. Directed and written by t.o.L.. Voice cast includes Béatrice Dalle, Takeshi Kato, Hisayo Mochizuki and Shinji Takeda. 92 minutes, plus three OVAs. Mainly black and white.

In 2010 Tokyo, on Cat Earth in the Feline Galaxy, lives cute catgirl Tamala (Mochizuki). This Earth is culturally similar to our own, but is populated by cat people with advanced Technology, such as flying cars and jet packs (see Flying); the advertisements for the multinational conglomerate Catty & Co, which controls 97% of the world's GDP (see Advertising; Economics), are ubiquitous. Tamala journeys in her Spaceship planning to visit her home planet, Orion, but crashlands near Hate City on Planet Q. She meets and dates catboy Michelangelo Nominos (Takeda); one day, losing her way at an art gallery, she finds a mural depicting horrific cat sacrifices and a headless statue of Tatla, whose inscription reads "Symbol of the ancient Religious cult of Minerva, suppressed approx B.C. (Before Cats) 4000. A Goddess destroyed and reborn in infinite succession" (see Reincarnation). Later Tamala is murdered by a dogman.

In 2032 Shanghai, Professor Nominos (Kato) from Planet Q lectures on the secret history (see Paranoia) of Catty & Co, detailing its links to the Minerva cult and the use of Tamala in its Advertising iconography since 1869: but the meeting is sabotaged before he can finish. We cut to Planet Q back in 2010 or shortly after: the decaying body of Professor Nominos climbs out of Hate City's river and makes its way to Michelangelo's house. Addressing his younger self (see Time Paradoxes) he completes his talk: Tamala is the reincarnation of Tatla, repeatedly sacrificed by Catty & Co as part of their Minervan rituals. In some other state of existence we see a recovering Tamala listening to Tatla (Dalle), a giant Robot cat, who describes her cycle of sacrifice and reincarnation as a spinning satanic mirror, saying she will go to Orion and break it. Tamara is then reborn on Planet Q and continues her journey to Orion.

The catpeople and dogpeople generally behave as humans, though Tamala sometimes acts like a cat – at one time curling up on Michelangelo's computer keyboard. Humans are not entirely absent: the most significant are Tamala's adoptive mother (always seen wrapped in a snake) and a living statue that resembles Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince.

There are pacing issues, with two lengthy Infodumps delivered in quick succession by Professor Nominos. The story wanders and is not entirely coherent – Drugs might have been taken – though its anti-capitalist message (see Politics) is clear. There is much to enjoy, particularly the animation which is often fascinating, and (aside from the scenes featuring Tatla, which use CGI) retro in feel, recalling both 1930's cartoons and psychedelia. The soundtrack also impresses. Influences include Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 (1966), Astro Boy, Metropolis (1926), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Franz Kafka passim. Though this was intended as the first part of a trilogy, the other films have not materialized, which may partially explain why Tamala 2010 is less than the sum of its parts: yet many of those parts are excellent. [SP]

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