Kyutaro Madarame is known as Madara the Devil, the invincible samurai, but he meets his match when he’s tasked to kill a cat named Tamanojo.
Are you a dog person or a cat person? Well in this little town in Japan it’s a question that could mean life or death.
Kyutaro Madarame (Kazuki Kitamura) is the former sword instructor of the Kaga Domain, but he’s fallen from grace.
He has debts and he’s a bad gambler to boot, so he’s in a bit of financial trouble.
One day after crossing swords with another samurai, he’s approached by a gang of dog-loving thugs. They want him to kill a cat owned by a local warlord.
Kyutaro begrudgingly accepts the absurd job, but finds himself confronted with a problem he couldn’t have anticipated. The cat is… moe.
It’s cute, it’s fluffy, it’s got huge eyes, and it’s melted his samurai façade enough to make him unable to complete his task; however, Kyutaro knows he can’t just leave the job unfinished.
A few days later, the dog-loving thugs come a knocking and he shows them a little grave knowing all too well the cat is looking at him from a closet.
From there it’s one scene after another as he struggles to take care of the cat as it playfully claws through his things and refuses to eat anything he offers to it.
Finally, he decides to let the cat go taking her far out into the woods. As he leaves, the cat meows making him look back. Kyutaro is resolute, but finds himself conflicted.
When he gets home, he leaves the back door to his little home open just a sliver in case the cat somehow finds her way back.
This is a samurai with a heart of gold although he does his best to hide it, and his inner dialogue always seems to betray his true feelings to the audience.
Through his interactions with the cat and its original caregivers, we start to delve a little deeper into Kyutaro’s character. We learn of a life in his past that he’s abandoned and why he’s never tried to go back.
Samurai Cat is a good film and an interesting take on the samurai period genre.
It’s also funny because while Tamanojo is obviously the cutest character in the cast, his cuteness leaks into Kyutaro’s inner dialogue. It the samurai almost as cute and innocent as the cat that acts as his foil.
Samurai Cat was released in 2014 and is available online.
This article was reprinted from Nikkei Voice’s Summer Issue. Subscribe or donate today to help support our newspaper.