Shinto Deities Live Purr-fect Lives in “Cat God”

 

The Cat’s Pajamas.

 

Trying out an new anime is always a gamble, but “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog” is here to help you hedge your bets. Each week we provide additional information and cultural context to aid anime fans in deciding whether or not they’d like to roll the bones on an unknown series.

 

 

What’s Cat God?

 

Cat God (known in Japan as Nekogami Yaoyorozu, or “The Countless Things of a Cat God”) is a 2011 supernatural comedy TV anime with direction by Hiroaki Sakurai and animation by AIC PLUS+. The series is based on the Nekogami Yaoyorozu manga by Flipflops, which was serialized from 2007 – 2012 in Akita Shoten’s Champion Red Ichigo seinen manga magazine.

 

Crunchyroll describes Cat God as follows:

 

  

Koyama Yuzu is running an antique shop. Mayu, the nekogami (Cat God), is living off Yuzu and leads an idle life playing games.

 

 

Cat God is an “everyday” comedy populated by various Shinto gods and spirits. Mayu, the titular cat god, has been kicked out of Takamagahara (the Heavenly realm where the Shinto deities reside) and stripped of most of her divine powers as punishment for shirking her duties and gambling too much. As the series progresses, Mayu attempts to redeem herself, in a lazy and roundabout fashion.

 

 

Deities and Divini-tea.

 

Alongside Buddhism, Shinto is one of Japan’s two major religions, and it posits a polytheistic, animistic worldview in which people, animals, plants, and even inanimate objects such as rocks can have spirits. In Cat God, this is reflected by a celestial bureaucracy of gods dressed in Heian era clothing controlling everything from the state of the local economy to the annual blooming of cherry blossoms.

 

 

Similar to Japanese society, the pantheon in Cat God has a complex hierarchy based on duty, seniority, and familial relationships. An easy way to determine who is the most important or powerful god in a given scene is by paying attention to how the tea is served. Subordinates pour tea for their superiors in an effort to curry favor, while gods in an influential position can order lesser deities to make them tea as a display of authority.

 

 

Parallel Plots and Product Placement.

 

A cute running gag in Cat God involves the background characters known as Boss and Assistant. In scenes parallel to the main plot, Boss and Assistant end up tossed about on the winds of fortune as a result of constant run-ins with Shamo, the God of Poverty. In addition to their own story-arc, Boss and Assistant also get their own fan-service moments in the beach and onsen episodes.

 

 

Another peculiar point of interest in Cat God is the presence of so many Sega video game consoles. Often in anime and manga, the artists will obscure recognizable brands to avoid potential legal difficulties, but in Cat God Mayu plays her favorite video games on systems that are clearly a Sega Genesis, a Sega Game Gear, a Sega Saturn, and a Sega Dreamcast.

 

 

Sweetness and Sentimentality.

 

Although Cat God is primarily a lighthearted, low-stakes comedy, it also has moments of genuine pathos. As a Cat God, it’s Mayu’s duty to protect misplaced memories and forgotten things, a job that parallels Yuzu’s work as an antiques dealer. In the more dramatic episodes, Cat God explores themes of sorrow and loss by confronting painful memories and exploring how the past shapes the present.

 

 

The Cat’s Meow.

 

Crunchyroll currently streams Cat God in 239 territories worldwide. The series is available in the original Japanese with English subtitles. Cat God is also available in North America in a collector’s edition Bluray set published by NIS America under the title The Everyday Tales of a Cat God.

 

 

Full of colorful characters and strong production design, Cat God is a gentle diversion and a pleasant way to pass the time. If you’re in the mood for a bright, cheerful comedy that is sometimes bittersweet, please consider giving Cat God a try.

 

 

Is there a series in Crunchyroll’s catalog that you think needs some more love and attention? Please send in your suggestions via e-mail to cruisingcrunchy@gmail.com or post a Tweet to @gooberzilla. Your pick could inspire the next installment of “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog”!

 

Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.