The world of cinema has always been enchanted by the terrorising prospect of our universe, from unknown organisms drifting in space, to hostile planets looking to make a Terraformer’s day it is last. Even the human element shouldn’t be trusted, as heartless corporations, fuelled by dreams of wealth, are willing to disregard their human resources into danger. Drawing from such rich inspiration, in 1987, Hisayuki Toriumi, brought some familiar ideas into a new medium, providing fine ingredients to mix into an anime called Lily C.A.T.
Far in the future, humanity has taken to the stars, only this time it is corporate entities looking for the next lucrative spot to mine. An international team, from the four corners of the world, is sent light-years away from Earth. Deep into their journey, some distressing news interrupts their suspended animation. Corporate spies may have also boarded the ship, and since anyone could have come from anywhere, and it is hard to trust anybody. Further complicating matters is a parasitic entity that can shape-shift and is working its way through the crew on an unstoppable quest to consume. Will what’s left of the crew survive both these threats, or will distrust and panic win in the end?
The primary thing you’ll notice, especially if you are a connoisseur of Sci-Fi horror, is that Lily C.A.T. wears its inspiration (and its tropes) on its sleeve. From Alien to The Thing and a lot of other classics in between. While the broader elements feel largely like a homage, Lily C.A.T. reworks just enough of these ideas so that it doesn’t feel totally like a rip-off. The parasite (and the reason behind the film’s unique name) is a great idea, and the film doesn’t stop with its surprises. We find out some motivations for some characters as the cast is picked off one by one, making sticking with Lily C.A.T. until the end all the more enticing.
As an 80s Sci-Fi flick, the soundtrack is nice and synthy, by Akira Inoue, it works well to set the mood, one that is fun to listen to outside the film as well. The voice acting is fun too, while watching the English dub, you find competent performances, especially as the international crew gets a chance to speak and express their horror at the situation. For those who seeking something different from their anime, Lily C.A.T. offers a rich vein of untapped potential.
Lily C.A.T. is just inventive enough to keep its obvious inspirations from feeling like too much of a rehash of old properties. The original ideas still retain their iconic creepiness, and Lily C.A.T. takes those and runs them into a compelling fusion. A fun example of 80s Anime, that you don’t get too much of nowadays as fashions change, and the overall look and feel us enticing enough to warrant a watch, even if it is to satisfy your curiosity. Lily C.A.T. shows that the final frontier may not be exploration, but recreation, whether in your image or otherwise.
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