Review: Komaneko

Got an iPhone, iPod Touch, Droid Incredible, or, best-thing-ever, an iPad?
Got a preschooler, or elementary school aged kid?
Need something entertaining to watch on YouTube?

If so, you’ve got to check out Komaneko, an adorable Japanese stop-motion animation.  Perfect for little ones, and captivating even for big kids and adults.

Komaneko is a cat, made in stop-motion animation, that likes to make stop-motion animation films and lives with her grandfather in their home near the mountains.  She crafts her own characters and backgrounds, and sometimes, when she’s not looking, her creations come to life.  Sweet, with an amazing level of detail, a lovely original music soundtrack, and a thorough dose of humor, Komaneko reflects innocence, patience, and persistence, along with the importance of friendship.  “Komaneko” itself is made up of “koma”, meaning frame of film, and “neko”, meaning cat.

Although the clips are Japanese, there is no real “talking”, just some meowing and easily understandable sounds, so they are appropriate for any language viewers.

According to AnimeNewsNetwork, Tsuneo Goda conceived Komaneko in a 2003 short “Komaneko Hajime no Ippo” (Komaneko: The First Step) for the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography with his Dwarf production studio.

A full length movie, Komaneko: The Curious Cat, comprised of a series of animated shorts, was next in 2006.

Komaneko: The Curious Cat

2006, color, 1 hour, Japan

Komachan is a kind-hearted kitten who lives with her grandfather in a small house on a hill, who spends her time designing film sets for her dolls and making stop-motion animations with them and her 8mm film camera. Over a series of five episodes, this adorable cat, a stop motion animation herself, makes short films, grudgingly befriends a radio repairman’s son, and cheerfully befriends a strange creature who may be the Abominable Snowman. “Komaneko’s overarching theme is friendship which, coupled with the pleasant background music, delightful designs, enjoyable stories, and endearing characters, makes Komaneko: The Curious Cat just about the nicest thing I’ve ever watched in my life. One viewing is enough to turn even a cynic like me into a happy trooper. Komaneko has no dialogue other than the occasional meowing so it’s accessible to viewers of all ages and language backgrounds. It’s great for kids, and for adults like me who need to be periodically reminded by a stuffed cat that the world is a good place after all.” (Editor’s Pick, yesasia.com)

And just this past winter (December 2009) a new stop-motion animated feature film, Komaneko Christmas: The Lost Present, was released in Japan.

Although both movies have been released on DVD in Japan, there is no english version, yet.  Luckily, several of the animated shorts are available on YouTube, and are actually viewable on an iPad or mobile phone — often when we try to view a YouTube video on our iPad, it won’t work, it says “not formatted for iPad viewing”, and it’s frustrating to click on video after video looking for one to actually play. 

So, add Komaneko to your YouTube Favorite’s, and enjoy some sweet peace and quiet next time you’ve  got 10 minutes to wait with your little one.

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