Art Spiegleman's Maus, with its touching story about the Holocaust, proved that you could do a respectful take on sensitive moments in history with talking animals. IDA, Inc. and anima, Inc. are out to blaze new trails with Cat Sh*t One, a new CG-animated feature based on Motofumi Kobayashi's manga of the same name. Rather than a carefully measured take like Maus, Cat Sh*t One tells the tale of rabbits, camels, and explosive action in an unidentified location in the Middle East.
Judging by its trailer, Cat Sh*t One looks like an old fashioned war movie, meaning clear motivations, a right side and a wrong side, and massive explosions. It also appears to be played perfectly straight, despite its funny talking animal stars. The hardware looks to be pretty true to real life, only adapted for use by the rabbits and camels. When you add in that it takes place in the Middle East, the location of two ongoing United States military conflicts, you've got a recipe for either a rocking action movie or a controversy tailor-made for slow news days.
The evolution of Cat Sh*t One is almost as interesting as the animation itself. Rather than signing up with a major anime distributor like Funimation and going through the usual rigmarole of translating, subtitling, dubbing, and seeing limited DVD release before being abandoned to the cheap movies bin at Wal-Mart, IDA, Inc. financed a translation and English dub themselves, and will be releasing an edited version for free streaming on Youtube for the two week period beginning February 5. Simultaneous with the Youtube release will be an unedited and deluxe version of Cat Sh*t One on Blu-ray and DVD, with commentary on the action and interviews with the staff.
This release is a fascinating use of the internet. It's similar in execution to the model several webcomics follow, where content is freely given away in the hopes of enticing viewers into buying a printed version with bonus features. There's even a stereoscopic 3D version that will be made available. While there doesn't appear to be plans for a download-to-own digital release via iTunes or Amazon Video on Demand, this approach is still very forward-looking and genuinely exciting. I'm pretty happy to see this being test-driven here, if only due to the fact that the anime industry desperately needs new tactics and new blood, less it become even more insular in general.
I'm always hesitant to suggest that consumers support something in case that something better will come down the same line, but Cat Sh*t One looks to be genuinely entertaining, and you've got to respect their willingness to take a risk with the distribution. While sidestepping a major distributor undoubtedly allows them a greater share of profits and more creative control, IDA, Inc. is also faced with lower visibility than the most obscure Funimation release. But, risk and reward go hand in hand, so I genuinely hope that this pays off for everyone involved, and leads to more projects like this in the future.
You can visit the website, or you can check out the trailer and a message from the producer below. The first 1:15 is taken up by an ad, but after that is nothing but talking animal goodness. If you like it, tell your friends. Tell your friends to tell their friends. Youtube streaming begins Saturday, February 5, and you'll be able to watch it here.
< Message from Producer >
My name is Junya Okabe, the producer for the film, "CAT SHIT ONE". Please allow me to deliver this genuine message.
The film has yet to surpass the production cost and we saw more potential for the content in the U.S. than in Japan. We dubbed the entire film in English by casting American voice actors. Even after all the obstacles, we have managed to finalize the English version of our investment.
We must now make this project a huge hit!
We already have countless new projects in line, such as a new character merchandizing project, created by Japanese production companies, to air online for free once this project succeeds. However, we do not have budget for it.
That is why we will like to ask all of you for help!
Through your family, friends, and relatives... We will like to ask all you to help promote this project.
Through Facebook, Twitter, and blog sites, help us spread the word all throughout the United States of America!
We are currently in a position where we are left with no other choice.
Please help us promote!
We believe in its potential and the miracle that America is known to create.
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