The Feline Fifty – Anime’s Top Cats

One month ago at Amecon, I ran the third of my anime animal events, this time about cats. If you missed it, or if you want to check the list to rekindle fond memories of me rattling through 50 cats in an hour, here is the list of cats in the Top 50.

50) Neko-chan (Gag Manga Biyori)
49) Sue Cat (Sue Cat)
48) Hyoma Yoshimura (Concrete Revolutio)
47) Zeros (Cowboy Bebop)
46) Goro (Detective Conan)
45) Archduke Gorgon (Mazinger)
44) Daybi (Doki Doki Pretty Cure)
43) Nyanpire
42) Poco (Kuruneko)
41) Panther Zora (Cutie Honey)
40) Apollo (The Enemy’s The Pirates)
39) Kero-chan (Card Captor Sakura)
38) Chiyo’s Dad (Azumanga Daioh)
37) Yoruichi Shihoin (Bleach)
36) ESP Kitty (Osomatsu)
35) Richie (One Piece)
34) Milady (Dogtanian)
33) Happy (Fairy Tail)
32) Bananya
31) Cat Girl Nuku Nuku
30) Cyborg Kuro-chan
29) Niyander
28) Mikeneko Holmes
27) Donyatsu
26) Nyarome (Moretsu Ataro)
25) Mii-kun (assorted Leiji Matsumoto projects)
24) Jiji (Kiki’s Delivery Service)
23) Mikan (Mikan’s Picture Diary)
22) Nyatta (Cat Soup)
21) Nyanko (Natsume’s Book of Friends)
20) Kotatsu Neko (Urusei Yatsura)
19) Speed Cerviche (Samurai Pizza Cats)
18) Garnet (Jewelpet)
17) The Baron (Whisper of the Heart/The Cat Returns)
16) Catbus (My Neighbour Totoro/Teekyu)
15) Shampoo (Ranma 1/2)
14) Beerus (Dragon Ball)
13) Poyo (Poyopoyo)
12) Chi (Chi’s Sweet Home)
11) Michael (What’s Michael?)
10) Luna (Sailor Moon)
9) Kitty White (Hello Kitty)
8) Tiger Mask
7) Jibanyan
6) Meowth (Pokemon)
5) Neko Musume (GeGeGe no Kitaro)
4) Pero (Puss n Boots/Toei Logo)
3) Tom (Tom & Jerry)
2) Leo (Jungle Emperor)
1) Doraemon

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Wolverine – Episode 3

Once again very little happens, but it’s a breezy ride. The first half of the episode deals with the duel between Wolverine and Kikyo Mikage. Kikyo as you may remember from last episode, is an assassin who can “pop” a sword from his wrist in a similar way to Wolverine’s claws.

Does the wrap on the hilt itch when retracted into his body?
Does the wrap on the hilt itch when retracted into his body?

In a somewhat odd manner, this sword has a hilt and is jointed so that Kikyo can use it like a real sword once it comes out his arm. It’s visually weirder when seen next to Wolverine and his rigid claws. Plus, it begs the question “how does he bend his elbow when the sword is sheathed?”.

I refuse to throw too much scorn his way. Back when I first bought TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes Role Playing Game – Basic Set, the very first character I rolled up was not too far from Kikyo. And probably not too far from characters any other X-Men-reading 12 year old would have rolled up. He was a mutant and I rolled that he had “Natural Weapons” as a power. So my brain went “X-Men… Axeman… HIS HAND TURNS INTO AN AXE!”. I ask you, what is a more natural weapon than an axe? Thus the newest X-Man, Axeman was born. And then never played in an actual adventure, as I was always the GM.

Yukio is on Logan's side. She must be, she says it enough.
Yukio is on Logan’s side. She must be, she says it enough.

Meanwhile, back at the anime. Visually it looks like Kikyo killed Tesshin Asano, and that’s who Wolverine accuses. But during this episode Yukio reassures Logan that she’s on his side so much that I still can’t help think she’s the guilty party.

That's one. That's two. Wanna go for three?
That’s one. That’s two. Wanna go for three?

The second half the episode involves Yukio & Wolverine ruining Hideki Kurohagi’s plans by blowing up a drug delivery. This is visually stronger than the first half’s duel. That was a good concept let down by perfunctory execution, this is something you’ve seen in dozens of action films and TV shows, but has some shots that make impact.

Omega Red! The guy from when I stopped reading X-Men comics!
Omega Red! The guy from when I stopped reading X-Men comics!

Before Wolverine can deliver his vengeance on Hideki, we get the lead into the next episode as 1990’s X-Villain sensation, Omega Red appears! So we’ve that to look forward to next week. The series continues to surprise me in how watchable it is for something so relentlessly average.

TO BE CONTINUED...
TO BE CONTINUED…
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Detective Conan – Episode 2 – President’s Daughter Kidnapping Case (1996)

In re-watching this, I wasn’t sure if it felt familiar because I’d seen the episode seventeen years ago, or because the mystery of the episode is cliché? Not that it matters, as the main item on the agenda is establishing the core conceits of the show. Namely, the false identity of “Conan Edogawa” that Shinichi Kudo assumes while he’s trapped in a child’s body.

A scientist, mad.
A scientist, mad.

Firstly he manages to convince his mad scientist friend Hiroshi Agasa that he is Shinichi Kudo. The pair concoct an identity of a relative of Agasa’s and then when Ran visits, Shinichi hastily throws the names of the mystery authors Arthur Conan Doyle and Edogawa Rampo together to create his new name.

The first heart-breaking part of the episode is how sure Shinichi is of how quickly he’ll be able to cure himself of this problem. 20 years later, it comes off naively optimistic when watching today.

Conan's head explodes.
Conan’s head explodes.

The second heart-breaking part, and the part that was surely intended thus, is when Ran confesses her love of Shinichi to this little boy that’s going to stay with her and her dad. That confession that he can’t act on feels as much an essential part of the series as the whole Black Organisation / APTX 4869 plot.

Wide Awake Kogoro solves the case!

Then before he gets settled in with the Mori family, we (and Conan) are whisked to the case of the week. A millionaire’s daughter has been kidnapped. And it’s a simple enough case that Ran’s detective dad, Kogoro Mori can solve the first part without being drugged and used as a ventriloquist’s dummy (no gadgets yet for Conan in this episode). As indeed will the viewer.

Nothing says "kid's TV show" like a child beaten with a baseball bat.
Nothing says “kid’s TV show” like a child beaten with a baseball bat.

The second part of the case is trickier, and the outcome seems to be setting things up for those aforementioned gadgets to come into play. Shinichi’s mind is still as smart as ever, but his body is too weak to deal with violent adults now. Luckily Ran is a karate expert and saves him from the true criminal, as the great Conan theme plays.

Great second episode, easy to see why the series has had the legs it has.

Bonus picture of Scooby Doo giving Conan a lift.
Bonus picture of Scooby Doo giving Conan a lift.
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Wolverine – Episode 2 – Yukio (2011)

Yukio

For a near half hour of television, very little happens in “Yukio”. The duel I thought was about to kick off last episode ends with a whimper when Logan is drugged. The wimpy AIM husband-to-be is given the job of disposing of Wolverine, and he decides that the tried and failed method of tying someone to a train track should do the trick.

I suspect in the long run this would have done more damage to the train than to Logan. However we don’t get to find out, as his henchmen are dispatched by a mystery assailant and Wolvie is rescued.

Logan's Stare
In case you were wondering, yes there is still lots of glaring.

Meanwhile, Wolvie’s law enforcement buddy learns that being friends with Logan is not good for your long term health, as he too is killed by a mystery assailant. Despite what the end of the episode wants you to think, I am going to guess that it was the same person doing the assailing.  And that person is the titular Yukio, a ninja who explains how her mother was a former assassin for Mariko’s father, killed for falling in love with her target. Logan heals up and then the pair go to meet his now dead buddy. Not only does he find a corpse, but the cops arrive, and it seems he’s been framed for the murder.

The ol' wrist sword trick!
When I was 12, I would have thought this guy was awesome.

Finally, to top things off, this guy arrives who can pop a sword from one of his wrists in a similar manner to Wolverine’s claws. Clearly this is who they expect you to suspect of the murder, but there are enough clues in the episode pointing to Yukio too, so it’s not as if they are being unfair if it does turn out to be her.

So, still middling fare, probably only recommended if you already like Wolverine. That is obviously who it’s for, and luckily it is who I am.

To be continued
TO BE CONTINUED! (plus I will describe a Wolverine-rip-off character I made for the 80’s TSR Marvel RPG)
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Detective Conan – Episode 1 – Roller Coaster Murder Case (1996)

Detective Conan

Twenty years of murder! Twenty years of never growing up! That’s right, it’s been 20 years since the anime adaptation of Gosho Aoyama’s detective manga, Detective Conan, started. So it seems an ideal time to roll the clock back and take a look at those early episodes.

I want to say I first saw Conan at an Ayacon convention in the late 90s, but my memory could be playing tricks on me. What I definitely did remember clearly was the violent and bloody second murder in this first episode. It’s hard to forget a decapitation by roller coaster in a kids cartoon that’s for sure.

I ain't scared of no Rolly Coaster!
A little off the top, sir?

Before we get to that brutal murder, the episode introduces our hero, Shinichi Kudo. We meet him wrapping up another murder case for the police. It’s a classic locked room mystery, and this is just the confrontation and explanation, rather than the investigation.

Here we also meet the first of the series’ recurring policemen in the form of avuncular Inspector Megure. In fact, the whole episode is a great introduction to the main recurring characters at this early stage of the series.

Shinichi & Megure
Shinichi & Megure catch a murderer!

As well as Shinichi and Megure, we meet love interest Ran Mouri, her private detective father Kogoro, the three kids who’ll become the Detective Boys (Ayumi, Mitsuhiko and Genta), Shinichi’s mad scientist friend Hiroshi Agasa and the two main recurring villains Gin & Vodka.

Ran, Karate Master
There was a lot more 80s-esque shonen goofery than I remembered.

There’s an impressive economy to how quickly the episode establishes the various personalities of these characters. In fact, the only thing it doesn’t satisfactorily establish during this first episode, is Shinichi’s status as a teenager trapped in the body of a small child.

It is played as a cliffhanger in this first episode, with Shinichi poisoned by Gin and Vodka after he gets suspicious of them. Which is fine, as it’s had 20 years since then to play with that core concept.

Conan
Only 20+ more years of this, kid!
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Wolverine – Episode 1 (2011)

Wolverine Anime

This is the first episode of the second of the four Marvel anime TV series (Iron Man, Wolverine, X-Men, Blade). Directed by Hiroshi Aoyama (Top Secret ~The Revelation~), story by Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan), scripts by Kengo Kaji (Iron Man Rise of the Technovore) and animation direction & character designs by Hisashi Abe (Highlander The Search For Vengeance).

The first three of the Marvel Anime got a budget box set release in the UK a year or so back (along with Avengers Confidential). And as I bought the set, I figured I better watch them at some point. So I am going to try and watch Wolverine weekly, as it aired five years ago. It’ll be like it’s 2011 today.

Bishonen Logan
Bishonen Logan.

First thing that struck me in 2016, is it’s even odder to have this young, bishonen Wolverine now than it was in 2011. Nowadays in comics Wolverine is either a young woman or a senior citizen from an alternate future. On screen, he’s Hugh Jackman or Steve Blum’s voice. Nowhere is he the skinny model that appears at the start of the episode. But that matters not. As long as you go “snikt!”, “bub” and heal mortal wounds in seconds you are Wolverine, no matter how beautiful you may be.

As a kid I was fully on board with Wolverine the moment I saw him. Which was not in a comic per se, rather it was in an advert for the Marvel Superheroes Role Playing game. What 9 year old isn’t going to want to know more about this superhero with knives coming out his knuckles? I have remained pretty much on board ever since.

Despite my general pro-Logan stance, I have never read the Claremont/Miller mini-series that this series is taking as its basis. I’ve a vague idea what went down, but the specific details are probably lost to me. So I have no idea if this is going to annoy the hell out of you if were a fan of that.

Our heroes discuss the plot.
Our heroes discuss the plot.

In this opening episode, Wolverine returns to Japan, when a friend, lets him know that his former girlfriend, Mariko Yashida, has been kidnapped by her father with the intent to marry her to an AIM scientist, Hideki Kurohagi.

So he barges straight into their house and ends up duelling the dad by the end of the episode. Which given that earlier they spent a long time with two men sitting in a bar explaining the plot, I was surprised by this burst of momentum.

Shingen Yashida
GLARE~!

It has the feel of a show like Golgo 13, in that it is competent, mechanically sound, but lacking flare. And has lots of close ups of men glaring at each other. The high point is Hisashi Abe’s character designs. It feels like they wanted a stereotypical “Madhouse” look, and Abe gave it to them. If anything Logan himself is the odd man out, made to look more handsome and less grizzled than we are used to seeing him.

The episode ends mid-duel with Logan popping his claws, so be back next week to see if the show keeps up this middling level of interest!

to be continued...
TO BE CONTINUED…
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Anmitsu Hime From Amakara Castle – Episode 1 (1986)

Anmitsu Hime

Funny and charming Studio Pierrot adaptation of the 1949 manga Anmitsu Hime by Shosuke Kurakane. Directed by Masami Anno (Wonderful Adventures of Nils) and written by Yoshio Urasawa (Nintama Rantaro).

Establishing shot of Amakara Castle
Establishing shot of Amakara Castle

In this first episode, Princess Anmitsu is turning 11, and her parents have bought her a special present from Europe. When the present turns out to be a tutor, Mrs Castilla from the Pudding Kingdom, Anmitsu thinks her birthday is ruined.

Mrs Castilla emerges from a birthday present.
Mrs Castilla emerges from a birthday present.

However, Mrs Castilla is a Mary Poppins-esque figure, who lets Anmitsu decorate the castle with giant paintbrushes. This brings them into conflict with the chief retainer and the hand maiden, who disapprove of fun and wasting money.

Chief Retainer and Hand Maiden
The Hand Maiden makes a move on the Chief Retainer.

Laden with gags throughout, it starts with Anmitsu taking over the kingdom’s public address system and declaring her birthday a holiday. This leads to all sorts of physical comedy from how the populace reacts.

firefighters
Hearing it’s a holiday, the fire fighters clock off for the day.

The biggest part of its charm though lies in the big, open, expressive faces of the Koji Nanke character designs. As well as doing opening and ending animations for Studio Pierrot shows in the 80s, Nanke also did character designs for this and Spoon Oba-san (the Mrs Pepperpot adaptation).

Shigeru Chiba
Your obligatory Shigeru Chiba character

Plus, being an 80’s Studio Pierrot show, they invented a character for the show so that Shigeru Chiba has someone to voice. In this case it’s the swordsman Tanesuke, who repeatedly claims he’s the reincarnation of different historical figures.

Hang gliding!
Hang gliding!
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