Dark Cat, directed by Iku Suzuki. 60 minutes. November 28, 1991.
The Nikkatsu Corporation was founded in 1912 and was Japan’s oldest movie studio. Before World War II it was one of Japan’s most prominent in both movie production and distribution. You’d never guess it from Dark Cat, though. After the War Nikkatsu turned to “romantic pornography” both in movies and the new anime market, growing cheaper and cheaper. Dark Cat was distributed by Nikkatsu in 1991; produced by Agent 21 and E.G. Films, whoever they were. In 1993, less than two years later, Nikkatsu declared bankruptcy.
Dark Cat, adapted from a horror manga by Naomi Kimura serialized in Halloween magazine, looks like a feeble attempt to make a PG Urotsukidōji. It has plenty of sexual innuendo, bland nudity, and waving tentacles bursting out of high school teachers and students, but nothing really happens. The most obvious horror is in the quality of the English dub; but assuming that it’s an accurate translation, the original Japanese must have been excruciatingly lame, too. The setting is so mundane that I checked to see if this was an anime remake of one of Nikkatsu‘s live-action “pink porno” movies, but apparently not – at least there are no references to a live Dark Cat movie on the Internet.
High school students are mysteriously disappearing in broad daylight. A cat-eared adolescent visits a pale turquoise girl in a sick room. When the girl says that she daren’t sleep or she’ll die, he tells her that she’s already dead. He’s exorcising her ghost.
The boy is Ryoi Kagezaki, the older brother of Hyoi Kagezaki. Both have the power to become cats. The story is vague as to whether they are immortal humans who learned to transform into Dark Cats from evil master Jukokubo, or whether they were always supernatural beings; but it’s clear that they learned their Dark Cat powers from Jukokubo and have turned against him to use those powers for good. (Where have we seen that plot before? Cyborg 009, The Shadow Man, …)
Ryoi disguises himself as a normal high school student (with slit eyes and cat ears), while Hyoi becomes a white, orange-&-brown alley cat. Both enter a high school to look for demons whom they sense are infiltrating it. Hyoi becomes the pet of Aimi Koenji, an asthmatic girl who is allergic to cats, while Ryoi becomes a regular student. He observes that Aimi is secretly in love with Hiroki Koizumi, a childhood friend who has suddenly become very depressed and lethargic when his girlfriend becomes one of the missing. He is publicly humiliated by Mr. Iwata, their teacher, who even manhandles him. Principal Nishimura encourages Mr. Iwata to abuse his students. Hiroki won’t fight back against three bullies, either; Aimi has to defend him.
Aimi and Hiroki are talking outside class when a young teacher, Miss Ogawa, bumps into Aimi and immediately starts punishing her, ordering her to clean up the schoolyard without a broom. Hyoi, who is observing this in cat form, is so incensed that he turns human and pulls Miss Ogawa off Aimi. Miss Ogawa orders him to come to her office after school.
In Miss Ogawa’s classroom, she starts to undress and seduce Hyoi, but tentacles burst out of her before he can become aroused. Ryoi bursts in to defend him, and Miss Ogawa jumps through an upper-story window to escape. Ryoi and Hyoi turn into cats to pursue her.
Aimi goes to Hiroki’s home, where she sees that he’s lethargic and depressed to an unnatural degree. He orders her out. She is despondent that he does not recognize her love.
Ryoi and Hyoi chase Ogawa into a field near a forest where she is eaten by Jukokubo, a green monster. Dialogue establishes that Jukokubo was their master who taught them their Dark Cat powers for evil, but they have turned against him to use those powers for good. They challenge each other and fight. Ryoi and Hyoi are defeated; Ryoi worse than Hyoi despite Ryoi’s using the sword of the Dark Cat against Jukokubo. Jukokubo warns them to leave school or he can’t protect them any longer.
Ryoi, mortally wounded, tells Hyoi to take him into the forest. They meet another Dark Cat (a floating white Persian) who tells Hyoi to leave Ryoi to be healed by the Spirit of the Forest.
Hiroki broods on his humiliations. Aimi broods over her unrecognized love for Hiroki. The three bullies are transformed into tentacled monsters. There is an ethereal scene of Ryoi, nude, being healed by the white cat who turns into the Spirit of the Forest. Hyoi is waiting in a playground by the forest for Ryoi to be healed when he is attacked by the three bullies who become a single monster. Hyoi defeats it/them with the Dark Cat sword.
Jukokubo orders the monsters to possess everyone. All of Aimi’s and Hiroki’s classmates turn into tentacled monsters. Jukokubo is revealed to be Principal Nishimura in disguise. (Or maybe the principal has been possessed by Jukokubo; the OAV is vague on this.) It turns out that it’s Aimi’s spurned love grown sour that is responsible for Jukokubo’s power. Aimi turns into a giant tentacled monster, to Hyoi’s horror. Ryoi says it is too late to save her and leaves to battle Jukokubo in the skies, but Hiroki realizes his love for Aimi at the last moment. Hiroki’s and Aimi’s united souls ascend to heaven, and the tentacled monsters disappear. Jukokubo boasts that he will return. Ryou and Hyoi, as cats, swear that they will be ready for him.
Did you notice that I never once mentioned a major character, Aimi’s schoolgirl friend, Sakiko Egami? She doesn’t do anything worth mentioning throughout the OVA, except to provide an excuse for conversations with Aimi that reveal information. Did you also notice that many characters such as Sakiko, Principal Nishimura, and Miss Ogawa are never named in the English dialogue? I had to get their names from the credits. What about the schoolgirls that disappear at the beginning of the OAV? Is Jukokubo responsible for them, or is another demon working this territory? If Jukakubo taught Ryoi and Hyoi “eons ago”, have they been fighting against him for eons, or have they only now turned to the good side of the force; and if so, why? When Jukakubo tells Ryoi and Hyoi to leave the school or he won’t be responsible for what happens to them, is he threatening them or warning them? Questions, questions.
This mess was licensed in the U.S. by Media Blasters, and first released on under its adult Kitty Media label in 1998 as a subtitled VHS. Media Blasters rereleased it on January 28, 2003 as an Anime Works! title as R-17+ on the new DVD format with a dubbed track added. Unfortunately, nobody has put the subtitled version online, so you have to put up with the phoned-in-quality dub.
Next week: “Forgotten” OAVs #18.