I’d never heard of Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat in Space until I was scrounging around BakaBT’s movie selection. And when I saw the title I was like, “Is she really gonna be a punk? Or is she gonna be one of those Avril Lavigne-styled 00′s punks? Do I really wanna watch an anime about a cat who cruises space malls with stripey-colored hair and plaid pants while listening to teenybopper pop music that’s about as “punk” as a Kidz Bop album?” Seriously, punk and anime are about as diametrically opposed to one another as you can get.
Well, I took the risk and downloaded this shit anyway, and I rolled a fucking strike.
Much like Kaiba, Punk Cat goes for a retro, Astro Boy meets Betty Boop style. Guess you could throw in some Hello Kittyness as well, especially once the big reveal happens. But we’ll get to that later.
Unlike Kaiba, I don’t think Punk Cat is using the retroness for any other reason than to have it contrast with/enhance the psychedelic journey vibe it’s going for. Where the Astro Boy “catoonishness” of Kaiba helped accentuate the whole alien/transhuman look of the series, I think we’re dealing with pure shock factor here. Seeing riots, bondage, and Freemason-like conspiracies play out in the guise of 60′s animation? Yeah, someone’s doing this just to fuck with us.
And that’s what’s awesome about Punk Cat. It is punk. It doesn’t give a fuck what you think. Much like the title character, Tamala, the movie does whatever the hell it wants to do regardless of consequences. It isn’t so much rebelling against the power as it is venting and pissing and kicking dancing kittens just for fuck’s sake.
So yeah, the movie follows Tamala’s journey through the cosmos. She wants to hit up Orion because that’s where her mother lives. While she has an adopted mother that looks after her or whatever, she pretty much sees her as a bitch that’s getting in her way. So Tamala hops in her space ship and heads on her way to Orion. And that’s when the weird shit starts to go down.
Tamala’s ship breaks down. She calls a tow truck. A dude gets out to repair her ship. Death appears, because apparently it’s well known that Death hangs out in this particular quadrant of space, and ganks the repairman. He tries to gank Tamala as well, but he doesn’t. We don’t know why, but he just tosses her out into space. Now that she’s stranded, Tamala heads to the closest planet. And that’s where her real spiritual journey begins
And in the tradition of other spiritual journeys, Tamala goes on a quest to find something by means of a series of vaguely-connected encounters that have little to do with one another save for the fact that Tamala and her newfound whiney hipster boyfriend Michaelangelo happen to be there. The first thing that came to mind while I was watching this was one of my favorite movies: Holy Mountain. They’re both movies dealing with loosely-plotted quests to find some deeper meaning in life, with said quests being comprised of scenes that may make some sort of sense when taken by themselves but hardly create a conventional, logical narrative.
The best bit in the movie deals with Tamala and her newfound lameass hipster boyfriend Michaelangelo going to the “Museum of Extinct Animals.” The joint ends up being dedicated largely to human artifacts, and Michaelangelo takes a fancy to a headless sculpture of a naked woman’s body. While he’s ogling the statue’s rather perky breasts, Tamala wanders off to the basement to go to the restroom. While she’s down there she comes across a room that’s sealed off with a Gordian Knot-like binding. She being the main character of this thing, the knot breaks away with a single touch and she enters. What she finds is this:
It’s a mural not unlike the sort of depictions of Hell you’d see from the Middle Ages. You see bodies writhing and pulling at their own intestines– there’s skeletons cleaving away at hapless souls– all while angels watch from above.
Except, you know, they’re all god damn cats.
The movie scans across this painting, making sure we get all of the images burned into our minds. It isn’t content to let us pick and choose what we see from the landscape. No way. It makes sure to pause as a cat tugs at its own innards. And it makes sure that we see the potential for salvation waiting above in the form of angelic cats.
And what’s salvation? It just happens to be Orion, Tamala’s destination.
That’s some awesome stuff right there.
But everything comes around eventually. Much like how Holy Mountain was about the quest to find and kill God (only to discover that the God you’re looking for never existed and you were an idiot to even try to look to begin with), there’s some goal lurking amidst all this insanity.
Throughout the movie we’re besieged with merchandising from Catty & Co. This cat-owned company owns 90-something percent of the world’s businesses. It’s essentially a galactic monopoly. But after Tamala’s death at the hands of a rapist police dog, we find out what’s up with her. She’s the creation of this corporation. She’s something like their Hello Kitty– a mascot they use in all of their advertisements. And she’s immortal. Ever since the company has embraced modern day styled advertising, she has been their mascot. The catch being that no one realized that she’s real.
But someone did find out that she’s real, and this prompted him to investigate Catty & Co. He was able to trace back their other trademark advertisement, a pair of cat-eyes, to ancient esoteric texts. They’re the symbol of some ancient god, Minerva, and they serve this god. After they were initially suppressed for making living sacrifices to their god, they decided to take revenge on society. Their started as a Templar-like organization in the medieval era, aiding men on the battlefield by delivering letters home to their wives and children. Through this they learned the power of information and the selling of such, and they began to corner the mailing industry as it started to grow. Soon their chokehold on the mail grew into influence over other industries, and by the time the “modern” era of the movie begins they essentially own the galaxy.
They’ve taken their revenge by becoming the new rulers of the universe, and now they’re working towards far more surreal and esoteric goals involving messing with dreams and shaping destiny and blahblahblah. Yeah, Tamala’s hipster loser friend falls asleep during the explanation of all of this as well. And that’s pretty much how we’re supposed to feel about all of this as well. While all of this is pretty damn fascinating to me, since it plays along the idea that the Templars became the Freemasons, and the Masons created the USA so there would be a nation where their ideas would take root and eventually dominate the world, all in order to spread their wisdom and get back at those that persecuted them during the Crusades… well… yeah, this shit kinda comes out of nowhere and explains nothing while explaining everything.
Much like Holy Mountain’s insane “stop watching this fucking movie and do something real” fuck you of an ending that I love, Punk Cat spends a hell of a lot of time setting up and explaining some elaborate conspiracy that explains everything only to have all of that shit mean squat. Yeah, Tamala’s immortal and plays into this scheme somehow. But now Tamala’s returned from the dead without a single memory of anything that’s happened, picked up a new traveling buddy in the form of a mouse that was a bondage sex slave in some earlier scenes, and she’s ready to smoke some more cigarettes and drop kick some more annoying kittens who won’t shut the fuck up.
Everything’s explained, but who gives a fuck? That’s what the movie’s saying in the end. A whole lot of shouting and pissing and moaning, and none of it means a damn thing.
Yeah. Punk Cat is Punk.
If you listen to the young crowd, 2002 may as well be ancient history. Not quite the “mythic age” of the late 90s where legendary heroes like Cowboy Bebop and Evangelion traipsed around the countryside, but the early 00’s may as well be set in Byzantine Rome in the eyes of “modern” fans.
So let’s take a look at the awesomeness that was airing on wall of bath houses while those Romans were doing their orgy thing.
10. Please Teacher!
Yeah, I don’t buy that “oh, he’s really over 18, he just looks young because of some mystery anime sleeping diseaseshit. Please Teacher is all about that fantasy of scoring with that one hot teacher almost every teenager has at some point in high school. And it’s totally OK because she’s an alien! Your fantasies are totally legal, dude, and they’re even more exotic! Score! It’s pretty baffling that this series ended up being watchable, much less pretty decent. A lot of that comes from the side characters. Their issues and relationships are far more interesting than anything that happens to the dream couple. And the whole thing has a decent sense of humor to it. But yeah, dude, you’re not an adult. Stop lying to the audience like that.
9. Haibane Renmei
I don’t love this series. It just doesn’t do it for me the way it hits those buttons for other people. Redemption stories aren’t what I’m interested in. I don’t get the same warm fuzzies other people get when they see someone overcome those sorts of personal odds. I’m weird like that. What interests me is the actual world that’s created in this series. It’s a cool take on Purgatory. It may be a bit too idyllic for my tastes, but the series does a great job of crafting this image of a pastoral world with just a hint of sinisterness lurking about. In a way, it’s something of a miracle that this series even makes it onto one of my lists. It’s way too nice for me.
GetBackers is similar to Heat Guy J in that I hated its first episode. I also hated its second episode. I was all but forced to watch the third. And that third episode was pretty cool. And then after that the series became kinda awesome. It has insane characters with insane powers, and said characters get into insane action scenes and shit. That’s about it. It’s shallow shounen action. It isn’t nearly as good as something like Air Master. But it has characters with names like Mr. No Breaks. Seriously. That’s one of my favorite anime character names ever. A getaway driver named Mr. No Breaks, whose “poweris that he never uses the breaks. That’s some brilliant character stuff there. That one character represents everything I like about this series.
One of my earlier posts compared this thing to Blade Runner. Not so much in terms of quality or anything, but in terms of the whole “just how human is an AIthing. Yeah, it probably isn’t relevant anymore to ask if artificial intelligence is real intelligence. Fiction’s weighed in on that enough to where the assumption is pro-AI. Chobits then asks “can you do all that other stuff you do with an equal human intelligence with an AI.The result is something that’s kinda creepy, but it’s kinda fascinating in that sort of “CLAMP has some weird fucking tastesway.
6. Trava: Fist Planet
Call it a dress rehearsal for Redline. It hits a lot of the same buttons as that awesome movie, except we see everything through the eyes of a couple of slacker salvagers. It isn’t the sort of “against the oddsstory like Redline. It’s more of a world-building piece where the creators are setting and exploiting the boundaries of the anime’s universe. It’s kinda inconsequential, I guess, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun and stylish.