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DVD Review

DVD cover

Cat Planet Cuties
Complete Series


Starring (voice): Kanae Itō, Mutsumi Tamura, Haruka Tomatsu and Kana Hanazawa
Distributor: Manga Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 08 July 2013

Bombshells from outer space! She's as frisky as she is curvy - and kitty wants to play! The flirty fun begins when nice guy Kio has a close encounter with a sexy, alien cat-girl named Eris. She's every nerd's fantasy come true, and she and her fellow intergalactic felines are setting up base in Kio's house. Unfortunately, Kio doesn't have a lot of time for heavy petting. Secret agencies and enemy dog-aliens are sniffing around, hoping to get their paws on his pussycat pal's tail! The guy's definitely got his hands full - but with Eris jumping in his lap to purr in his ear, it's likely Kio will land on his feet...!

Arriving, like its principal character, in a flurry of bouncing breasts and anthropomorphic fetishes, Cat Planet Cuties immediately establishes itself in the long and less than proud tradition of 'miracle girlfriend' anime, in which the young male protagonist acquires a cute and willing girl of supernatural or otherwise non-ordinary origin, without having to do anything at all. While the generally acknowledged originator of this genre, 1978's enduringly successful Urusei Yatsura, freighted its whimsy with a dose of hard-headed romantic realism, generations of imitators have watered down the scenario into a straightforward male fantasy. Not only is she cute and exotic, she's in trouble and only you can help!

Perhaps sensing that their premise treads an extremely well-worn path, the makers of Cat Planet Cuties (the baldly descriptive title amended from the original Japanese 'Asobi ni Iku Yo!', meaning 'Let's go and play!') have peppered their slim story with all manner of audience-friendly nods to well-known sci-fi and telefantasy series: Star Trek, Charlie's Angels, Mission: Impossible, even Red Dwarf and Dastardly and Muttley are referenced at various points, with varying degrees of wit. This aside, the story holds few surprises, as Kio, Eris and pals bumble amiably towards a high-stakes, yet predictable confrontation with the antagonist. Only a subplot about a human pressure group trying to avert humanity's first contact with aliens being with a race of sexy catgirls, on the grounds that it's stupid, raised a genuine smile.

There are hints of a better series poking through the lowbrow silliness; the strong bond forged between Kio's gun-toting gal-pals Manami and Aoi is well drawn and considerably more convincing than the romantic elements – it's unfortunate that any progress in this area is undermined by the requirement to have them both strip down and throw themselves at the personality-deficient Kio every so often. (On which topic, the series has rather more nudity and suggestive content than is usual for this genre – the 15 certificate is well earned.) The lush Okinawan setting is a welcome change from the usual Tokyo or suburban backdrop seen in contemporary-set anime, and even serves as a springboard for some digs at the American military presence in that region, as Manami takes orders from a gum-chewing Yankee blonde from the CIA. Any hope of political commentary is short-lived, however, as the fetishistic otaku-friendly conjunctions of girls, firearms and maid outfits take over and turn the series back onto familiar terrain.

Series scriptwriter Katsuhiko Takayama has shown his grasp of inconsequential anime comedy before with two seasons of Baka and Test: like that series Cat Planet Cuties is good for a chuckle or two, but it's so representative of its thoroughly exhausted genre that its charms are outweighed by the feeling of over-familiarity. With the clichés on display laid on so thick there's barely room for an original idea, it's hard not to feel a little dispirited by it, despite its unflagging tone of cheery playfulness. Only worth it if your appetite for harem hijinks is in urgent need of satisfaction.


Richard Hunt

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