Thursday, August 20, 2009

In short: Neko Ramen Taisho (2008)

aka Pussy Soup

The cat (puppet) Jeff III has had a hard life until now. Brought up by his cruel father, Jeff II, to become a popular cat idol just like dad (and presumably Jeff I), poor Jeff hasn't the necessary cuteness that it takes to get through life in showbiz.

Jobless and rejected by his father after a very bad performance in a commercial, the cat decides to get a decent job. But all his promising career choices go to waste. Work as a sushi chef turns out to be impossible for someone addicted to fish, while nobody wants to be operated on by a surgeon who is also a cat. After his taxi driving job doesn't pay off either - surprisingly, passengers don't appreciate it when you try to run over rats - the desperate Jeff wants to drown himself to end his ordeal, but is saved by a gruff yet kindly ramen cook.

The master teaches Jeff the art of ramen cooking, and soon our hero has a small but fine noodle bar on the outskirts of Tokyo. All could be well, if not for his rather evil father who is trying to lay Jeff's life to waste by opening a new, flashy ramen place nearly next door.

That's the sort of problem only a TV cook off can solve.

Yeah, Minoru Kawasaki is at it again, making another comedy in the spirit of his Calamari Wrestler and Executive Koala, just with even more dubious looking dolls.

It is in fact so much in the spirit of those earlier films that one could be tempted to decry a certain lack of originality in the new film. But then one would be the kind of person who complains that a film about a ramen cooking cat isn't novel enough, or, as we here call 'em, a twat.

The viewer's enjoyment of the whole affair probably depends on her ability to find the type of parody that nearly emulates its sources funny. If you like the clichés of Japanese pop culture targeted here at least a little, you'll probably have some decent fun, if not, you are way outside of the film's target range and will probably just stare at the screen in befuddlement.

If, on the other hand, you're like me and have read and enjoyed one bread baking or cooking manga or the other, Neko Ramen Taisho comes recommended. Unless you don't like ramen.


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