Cat lovers may want to reevaluate their passion after watching Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat in Space, which comes to us from the far ' make that far-out ' reaches of Japanese animation. Not that Tamala, the titular kitty, isn't cute. With her round eyes and parabolic hips, she looks like Betty Boop, only with pointy ears and a tail. Or, if that reference is too ancient-history for you, imagine a Powerpuff Girl who, in the sweetest little baby voice imaginable, cusses like a sailor. "Me not a fraidy-cat," Tamala says when trouble comes her way, which it inevitably does. Of course, that's how superheroes save the world, by running into trouble.
"The world," in this case, is the Feline Galaxy, some kind of parallel universe populated by cats and dogs, who, as you might expect, don't get along. Tamala hails from Cat Earth, which looks like Fritz Lang's Metropolis on steroids, but it isn't long before she takes off for Orion in search of her long-lost mother. Instead, she winds up on Planet Q, where dogs seem to have the upper hand. Upon her arrival, she meets Michelangelo, a mild-mannered tom cat she insists on calling Moimoi, despite his repeated corrections. Together, they wander through a city called Hate, where a wolf-like mutt named Kentauros has his way with the local cat population.
That almost makes Tamala 2010 sound straightforward, logical, understandable. On the contrary, it's indirect, illogical, surreal, rather like Yellow Submarine. Half the time, I didn't know what the movie was getting at, but, looking back, those were the moments I preferred, like when Tamala, in order to enjoy the feel of wind whipping her face, rips the passenger door off Michelangelo's cowhide-like car. Overall, there seems to be an anti-corporate message running through the movie. Or is it a pro-corporate message? Most of the Feline Galaxy is owned and run by Catty & Co., a conglomerate that makes the Walt Disney Co. look like a kid's lemonade stand. Catty & Co. is supposed to be bad, right?
You tell me. It certainly seems bad, if only because its ads permeate life on Cat Earth and beyond. But it may also be the latest reincarnation of an ancient cult dedicated to Minerva, with Tamala as its most important member. The first movie in a projected trilogy, Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat in Space was created by a Japanese art collective known as t.o.L., and there are also plans for a TV show and a worldwide merchandising push Ã la PokÃmon. So, both on and off the screen, we may be seeing a lot more of that cat-eye logo that's in practically every frame of the movie. Resist or succumb? Again, you tell me.