“Neko Samurai 2: A Tropical Adventure” – 2015 BiFan Film Review

SSSHHHHHEEEE’SSSSSSS BBBBAAACCCCKKKKK!! Cute Kitty. Furry Kitty. Cuddly Ball of Fur.  Tamonojo returns! And for those wondering if “Neko Samurai 2: A Tropical Adventure” (猫侍 南の島へ行く, 2015) has enough feline furry goodness on the screen, fear not, because director Takeshi Watanabe doesn’t make the same mistake as a lot of dog-arrogant directors by throwing the kitty out with the bathwater.

Kazuki Kitamura once again playing second fiddle to the cat in "Neko Samurai 2." (still courtesy of JAPAN CUTS 2015)
Kazuki Kitamura once again playing second fiddle to the cat in “Neko Samurai 2.” (still courtesy of JAPAN CUTS 2015)

In this sequel we don’t just get one feline friendly to coo at but two, the newest addition being a black-furred Cat-sanova who’s stolen the heart of lovely Tamonojo.  And of course, Kazuki Kitamura returns as ronin samurai Kyutaro Madarame, a rather thankless role as straight man in a film that is built on a relatively ludicrous premise. This time around, Kyutaro and Tamonojo leave the safety and familiarity of Japan and end up stranded on some island in what I assume to be either the South Pacific or Africa. (“Neko Samurai 2” is a picture not exactly beholden to facts or the confines of narrative realism.  The exact location – or the believability of how they arrived there – is of little consequence to the cast and crew and thus glossed over in a hilarious meow-ntage.)

Once on the island, Kyutaro gets into conflict with an odd tribe of cat-worshipping natives who’ve kidnapped Tamonojo and propped her up as some sort of god. Kyutaro does his best to rescue her back, but being possibly the only samurai in history who refuses to kill under any circumstances, his rescue mission quickly ends in failure. The rest of the film relies on several familiar hijinks: breaking out of a bamboo prison, a tribal festival by bon-fire that erupts into a musical number, and a Keystone Cops style showdown between “Madarame the Devil” and a cavalcade of pirates that look about as menacing as the extras in a “Pirates of the Caribbean” flick.

To say nothing of consequence happens in this picture would be accurate, but would also completely miss the point of the “Neko Samurai” series.  This is a film ruled by s(cat)tological logic: a samurai who doesn’t kill, pirates who do no real raping and pillaging, a world where the relationship between cats and humans blur the lines between pet and owner or servant and god. It is a silly film, but silly doesn’t always mean stupid and this sequel is a cat-tastic film for feline-o-philes and those not immune to kawaii cat cuteness.