Cat Girl Kiki
(Nekomimi shojo Kiki) (2006)
Directed by Akiyoshi Sugiura

Artistic Value: * * *
Entertainment Value: * * * ½

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Yoshirou (Teruaki Uotani), a sad college student, finds an abandoned cat in a cardboard box on the edge of a road. He takes the animal home and discovers that it has transformed into a young woman with cat ears, whom he names Kiki (Yui Kano). Yoshirou teaches the girl how to speak, walk upright, and eat with utensils; he also dresses her in a French maid's costume and a sailor suit school uniform and begins to develop a relationship with her. However, after Yoshirou encounters a pair of his old friends from school, various tragic and disturbing events from his past begin to intrude upon his life with Kiki.

Akiyoshi Sugiura's Cat Girl Kiki is a reasonably engaging and even affecting tragedy. It is hardly inspired, but it is never dull, either.


The first part of the movie, in which Yoshirou meets and teaches Kiki, is generally charming. Yoshirou comes across as a sad but decent young man who is both fascinated by the peculiar being living with him and attracted to her. He does, after all, dress her up in costumes so as to make her even cuter than she already was. He does not, however, mistreat or take advantage of her. I actually found myself liking the character and involving myself in his life. Kiki, I might add, is quite endearing. With her silly mewing, her feline mannerisms, and her apparent complete innocence, she is enjoyable to watch, as is her gradual development into a person.


This sweet, romantic story is, however, cut short midway through the movie, and what follows is rather dark. Fortunately, because the viewer is likely to have engaged with the hero, he is likely to be affected by the sad details of the man's life now being revealed. The movie can be touching at times.


Though I clearly did like many aspects of Cat Girl Kiki, I will have to concede that the film is hardly without flaws. The story and the performances of the actors, though enjoyable, are never memorable. The sets are utterly forgettable (though, by looking like somebody's actual apartment, they do give the narrative a certain sense of authenticity), and the few special effects included could have been achieved by a child. What is worse than all of these problems, however, is the fact that the movie was recorded on video and is usually ugly to look it.


While there is nothing in Cat Girl Kiki that is likely to awe the viewer, it is still a reasonably entertaining film.


Review by Keith Allen

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