The Star of Cottonland (綿の国星 Wata no Kuni Hoshi?) is a shōjo manga by Yumiko Ōshima. It was serialized by Hakusensha in the magazine LaLa from 1978 to 1987 and collected in seven tankōbon volumes. The story is about an abandoned kitten called Chibi-neko (drawn as a small girl with cat ears and tail) who is adopted by a young man named Tokio and grows up believing she is human. The Star of Cottonland received the 1978 Kodansha Manga Award for shōjo manga. It is credited with popularizing the kemonomimi (catgirl) character type.
After two-month-old kitten Chibi-neko (チビ猫?) is abandoned by her former owners, she is found by 18-year-old Tokio. Although his mother is allergic to cats and has a great fear of them, she agrees to let him keep the kitten because she fears he is becoming too withdrawn after failing his university entrance exams. Chibi-neko soon falls in love with Tokio.
In her own mind, Chibi-neko is a small human who speaks in human words, although people only ever seem to hear her meow, and she believes that all humans were once kittens like her. When she realizes that Tokio is in love with a human girl, she wishes to grow up into a full human more quickly. However, a tomcat named Raphael tells her this is impossible, destroying her dream. Raphael tells Chibi-neko of a paradise called Cottonland, where dreams can come true.
Chibi-neko runs away from home to travel with Raphael, searching for Cottonland. After many adventures, she ends up near Tokio's house, where Tokio's mother finds her and overcomes her fear of cats.
The Star of Cottonland was serialized by Hakusensha in the magazine LaLa at irregular intervals from 1978 to 1987. The series was collected in seven tankōbon volumes under the Hana to Yume imprint, and then reissued in 16 child-sized volumes. It was later reprinted in four bunkoban volumes in 17 June 1994.
The Star of Cottonland was adapated as an anime movie produced by Mushi Production. The movie was directed by Shinichi Tsuji from a script by Masaki Tsuji and Yumiko Ōshima, with music by pianist Richard Clayderman. The movie was released in theaters on 11 February 1984. The movie was later released on VHS, then rereleased on DVD by Columbia Music Entertainment on 31 March 2004.
In 1978 The Star of Cottonland received the Kodansha Manga Award for shōjo manga, and in 1979 it was voted the most popular series running in LaLa. According to German manga scholar Jaqueline Berndt, the depiction of cats as young girls spread to other manga series from The Star of Cottonland. It is described by Masanao Amano as not just a simple animal fable but a story in which psychological and mental states are highly differentiated.
The movie of The Star of Cottonland has been praised as a "hidden gem" for its complex characterization, philosophical story, and gorgeous animation. The soundtrack of Richard Clayderman's piano music is praised by Helen McCarthy and Jonathan Clements as striking exactly the right tone for the romantic mood. The depiction of Chibi-neko's self-image as a catgirl was seen by a reviewer at T.H.E.M. Anime as a metaphor for adolescence.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Script error
- ↑ Script error
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Helen McCarthy and Jonathan Clements (2006). The Anime Encyclopedia (2nd ed.). Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press. p. 113. ISBN 1-933330-10-5 Check
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- ↑ "Wata no Kuni Hoshi (OAV)". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- ↑ Script error
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Script error
- ↑ Joel Hahn. "Kodansha Manga Awards". Comic Book Awards Almanac. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
- ↑ Script error
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Jennifer Berman. "THEM Anime Reviews 4.0 - The Star of Cottonland". T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
The story is also a rather deep and philosophical one. It may look like some doinky cutesy anime on the surface, but there are actually many profound metaphors to adolescence and growing up and coming of age and trying to find your place in life. I really appreciated that aspect of the story.