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Title (English) Magic Catgirl Taruto
Title (Japanese) Mahou Shoujo Neko Taruto
Art Sample

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Synopsis A baby cat girl is set adrift down a river in a basket to save her from a war. The basket disappears into another dimension, and our story begins.
The story is about a young girl cat called Taruto. Now, this is not like most "cat girl" anime - Taruto is not a human with catlike characteristics, but a young cat with human qualities and intelligence. She lives with her master, Iori, a human college-aged youth and his teenaged sister Kinako, who have just moved to a new, seaside town that is very European in appearance. Lori is thrilled to be in this new town because he loves to make desserts, and this town specializes in Northern European-style desserts. But the town and the relationship between the humans and the cats in it are all subtly different from our world. Not the least of the differences is that this world is tied magically to a world of sentient cats from which a kitten princess was lost during a terrible war some years before. Various forces from that cat world are now secretively roaming the human world, looking for that missing princess for different reasons. And Taruto appears to be at the center of this search. Taruto has certain abilities that suggest that she may be that missing princess - in particular she has some ability to do magic, albeit in a rather unpredictable and uncontrolled fashion. But every so often something seems to take over Taruto's usual kitten-like self that allows her to do much more than normal.
The story revolves around Taruto meeting the various other cats in her new town, as well as her interactions with some of the humans around her. Taruto loves Iori very much and dreams of someday being a beautiful bride for him. But as we find out in some poignant and subtle moments, this will never be, because Taruto is still a cat, and the cats in this world have life spans the same as cats in our world, and remain cats for their lives. Iori also loves Taruto as a pet, but he falls in love with a beautiful rich girl, Anzuko, who lives nearby. Anzuko likes Iori too, but she lusts after cats for her cat collection, and Taruto is the very cat she needs to make her collection complete. So as a subplot in most of the episodes, Anzuko spends time fruitlessly chasing Taruto all over town, unbeknownst to Iori who spends his time trying to make more delicious desserts for Anzuko.
Review "Mahou Shoujo Neko Taruto" was the big surprise for me. Once again I was expecting a typically uninspired "cute girl" clone series, but "Magic Catgirl Taruto" is much more than the premise suggests. A preface tells the story of a world of cat people and a baby cat girl who is set adrift down a river in a basket to save her from a war. The basket disappears into another dimension, and our story begins.
Taruto is a genki cat girl with cat ears and a long, luxuriously furry tail, who lives with her "master" and his sister in a world like ours, but subtly different. ( It looks a lot like a Miyazaki European city and the technology is a mix of early and late 20th Century. ) Taruto looks to be about 10 years old and she loves her master. But her master ( who is either totally 'luded out or has been lobotomized ) treats her like a pet cat. Now, other than the ears and tail, Taruto appears rather human. ( But despite this being a Wowow series, Taruto hasn't shown any "skin" yet, so I have no idea on whether or not she has more than two breasts. ) Taruto also dreams of growing up to be a beautiful bride for her master too.
Taruto has one other characteristic she can do magic. But her magic is pretty uncontrolled and usually results in things getting messed up quite badly. The story starts as Taruto, her master and his sister move to a different house, which is big and old. When the sister steps out to do some grocery shopping, Taruto ( damn, I keep on typing "tartufo" ) gets mad at her master's playing with her like a kitten, and puts him to sleep with some magic. She then starts to hear noises in the house and see things in the shadows. Two of the "things" turn out to be two other slightly older cat girls who are spying on her. ( I guess from their character designs that they do have only two breasts. ) But they aren't the only ones around or spying on Taruto.
The animation in this show is fantastic much better than in the other three shows and right up there with the best of this year's shows. The overall "feel" and sense of this show is also great. I'm planning on re-watching it this evening to pick up what I missed the first time and to enjoy the entire experience over again.
All-in-all, "Neko Taruto" was one of the most enjoyable, intelligent and sweet fantasy anime I've ever seen. The creators of this story took a classic plot, filled it with wonderfully likeable characters and brought a sense of self-consistent fantasy to the entire mix, that truly made the story "magical". Each episode brought something unique and different to a very traditional story and managed to make the blend totally unforgettable. The best comparison I can make is to some of the better Miyazaki fantasy movies in the way that everything comes together. This is a "must see" anime for anyone who loves classic fairytale-style fantasy. (Dave Baranyi)
Credits
Episodes 12
Release
TV Showing See the whole series for free? This series may be syndicated to regional cable, satellite or terrestial TV stations. For Europe click here.
Date 2001
Production TNK/Madhouse
Broadcaster WOWOW
Animation
References & Help Look up the latest data on this title at:
Richard Llewellyn's Animated Divots, or
www.animenfo.com, or
Anime News Network (see Encyclopedia section) ,
or in "The Anime Encyclopedia" (Clements & McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press, 2001).
Help & further information.

 

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