Cat Soup (ねこぢる草 Nekojiru-So?, lit. Nekojiru Grass) is an award-winning animated short film directed by Tatsuo Sato, inspired by the work of manga artist Nekojiru. The surreal black comedy follows Nyatta, an anthropomorphic kitten, on his travel to the land of the dead and back in an effort to save his sister's soul.
Cat Soup was released direct-to-DVD on February 21, 2001.
Nyāko, the older sister of Nyatta, lies very ill in her room. By accident, Nyatta sees his sister leaving the house holding hands with the Japanese version of Ksitigarbha, (known as Jizou in Japanese) and follows them. Nyatta claims one half of his sister's soul by pulling one arm. Nyāko's soul gets split in two, and her brother runs away with one half. Jizou sends a clue about a flower they must search for in order to retrieve the missing part, then walks away with the other half.
Nyatta returns home to find the doctor telling his parents that his sister is dead. Nyatta gets closer with the half-soul in his arms and puts it back in his sister's body through her nose. Nyāko wakes up braindead. Nyatta and Nyāko travel together (apparently on the order from their mother, asking Nyatta to save his sister) and visit a circus (where god is represented as a magician). The final act, which is a giant penguin-looking bird "filled" with various weather, causes a flood of water which covers everything. The two of them end up on an Arc-esque boat with a pig, which they eventually begin to eat (by unzipping his stomach and pulling out butcher slabs). God drains the world of the oceans (by holding up the world so the water on it runs down his arm), leaving the cats and pig stranded in a desert. The pig bites off Nyatta's arm, which is repaired by a desert-dweller who makes dolls from the pieces of other cats.
Traveling across the desert, they are brought to a house by the smell of food, and are invited inside by a man. They are fed, and when full the man attempts to turn them into soup, attacking them with a pair of scissors. He ends up falling into the cauldron, Nyatta cuts him into pieces with the scissors and the cats escape. Wandering further across the desert dehydrated, Nyatta digs and finds an elephant made of water, which cools them off and travels with them, though the elephant eventually evaporates from the heat. God accidentally stops the flow of time and disrupts space, and the cats play with the time-frozen scenes. Father Time turns time back on, shooting it forward and reversing it, showing various scenes of random events either rapidly going forth in time or back. Eventually the cats find themselves back on their boat in the ocean. They drift into a marsh of metallic plants and creatures, coming across the flower they were seeking. Nyatta places the flower on Nyākos face, which restores her to normal. Together, they go back home.
In the end, the entire family of cats are gathered in their house leisurely watching tv. Nyatta leaves them to visit the toilet, and while he is gone, the other family members disappear one by one in thin air. The show on the tv also disappears, leaving only a flashing screen behind. Nyatta returns, noticing that everyone is gone, and outside the nearby lightpole is also turns off leaving the house in darkness. Finally the movie also "turns off", leaving behind a flashing screen before the credits roll.
Cat Soup won an Excellence Prize (Animation Division) at the 2001 Japan Media Arts Festival, the "Best Short Film" award at the 2001 Fantasia Festival and the Silver Award for Animation 2003 New York Exposition of Short Film and Video.