Through the kindness and thoughtfulness of a friend, I was able to see a free screening of “Samurai Cat,” shown at the Japan Foundation on Wilshire Avenue in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
I definitely would NOT consider this movie a comedy. The imagination and creativeness of director Yoshitaka Yamaguchi and acting by Kazuki Kitamura, the Samurai, were realistic and most enjoyable.
It started out with the masterless Samurai, who leaves a loving wife and adorable daughter to find his way in the future. He comes to this certain village and interrupts a poker game and becomes friendly with the group, which included the Magistrate.
He is offered five pieces of gold by the Magistrate to kill a certain cat. It seems that this village had a division of cat lovers and dog lovers, and even had a guard to watch over a certain cat and a certain dog.
At first, the movie makes one feel that the Samurai did indeed kill this certain cat, Tomojiro by name, but he did not. The Samurai takes the cat to his home.
This Samurai makes paper parasols for a living. Many unpleasant incidents, such as the cat tearing the paper from the parasols to shreds and scattering the equipment used to make the parasols all over the floor, causing a great mess, give the Samurai the feeling that he should have killed Tomojiro. However, after much ado, he finally learns to love Tomojiro.
He even fights with some of the dog lovers of the village to save his cat. He risks his neck in order to get food for the cat by “sneaking” into the Magistrate’s home, which usually has a guard at the door. On this certain day, the Samurai finds the door unlocked and no guard, so he cautiously enters.
He begins looking around and finds the maid locked in a cell holding a cat who is supposedly Tomojiro. The Samurai unlocks the cell and she is able to give him some horse meat, food for Tomojiro, and then follows the Samurai to his home.
I know animals can be “trained” to do certain things, but whoever worked with Tomojiro must have taken much time with much patience because the cat ‘s facial features reacted perfectly to the incidents that occurred. The expressions on the cat were so “human” you could hear laughter from some of the audience.
Tomojiro was an all-white furred cat from head to tail, which to me was unusual in itself. The cat the maid was holding was also another almost all-white furred but it had some brown markings on its tail.
The finale of “Samurai Cat” was very warm and touching. It showed the Samurai returning to his home and being greeted happily and tearfully by his loving wife and daughter. The Samurai gives the cat to his daughter, who cuddles it. The Samurai then enfolds his wife and daughter, which gave me such a wonderful feeling and was such an appropriate ending to “Samurai Cat.”
Maggie Ishino is a Rafu typist and can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.