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Catnapped!: The "Special Edition" (1995)[]

Prologue[]

Even after I've made my way to adulthood and onward, I can't help but look back on a life-changing experience from my formative years. And to think it all began with a cartoon obsession.

When I was in the early stages of elementary school (ages 6 and 7 in kindergarten and first grade respectively), I got transfixed by this early 90's anime known as Sailor Moon, which the top children's channel in my country continued to show on weekday afternoons until just a few years later, possibly because the dub was recorded locally and technically fit a required content quota.

I'm still unsure why exactly. It might have been the flashy battle scenes, pretty girl heroines, retro animation or anything like I had never seen before then, my younger self preferring mainly slow slice-of-life/edutainment cartoons, Disney movies and cheap garbage etc. In any case, I would have the TV on when I returned home from school every day, sometimes tuning in to Sailor Moon if I wasn't already craving PBS instead.

Sometime later, at the age of 7, my then 4 or 5-year-old little sister had gotten ahold of the first Sailor Moon movie Promise of the Rose. Naturally, this caught my attention (especially the knowledge that a show like Sailor Moon could spawn a movie) and I was eager to see it.

One day, I put the tape into the VCR with my sisters watching as well. It started off normal, with ads for Pokémon and some anime movie based on The Dog of Flanders, but then something came up after those. It was an ad for some bizarro fantasy adventure anime film dubbed in English as "Catnapped!".

This trailer had lots of weird imagery set to an upbeat song in Japanese language, my younger self knowing nothing about what the words meant. There were scenes like a young boy turning into a cat, a dog gobbling up catfolk from inside a building and especially an evil villainess turning catfolk into balloons just by touching them.

I wanted to see this movie so badly but not even the local library nor Blockbuster Video had it in stock, so it seemed like I was shit out of luck... until one day, several months later, when my dad returned home from a trip to the US with his Navy fleet, he surprised me with a VHS copy.

Being young, I thought nothing of that the tape was in a Memorex blank VHS box with a basic white label plastered over it, "CATNAPPED!" hastily written on it with Sharpie. Only caring about that I'd finally see a weird movie no one else knew about, I quickly accepted the tape and immediately ran upstairs to my bedroom to put the tape into the VCR under our late 90's CRT TV from Sears.

And for the longest time... any memory of this movie other than the before and after was totally blank. Seeing the trailer, yearning to see the movie and then nearly a decade of nightmares afterwards? I could remember them easily but the actual movie itself? Not so much.

In the interim, life was getting significantly less happier than my childhood; difficult homework, constant bullying both in junior high and at home, parents who wouldn't lift a finger to halt their bratty siblings yet dole it out to their so-called "problem cihld" (etc.), disagreements with one another on a regular basis... you name it.

Recalling the trauma a random anime movie for kids caused me was the cherry on top. After a few times between me and my siblings went South, I couldn't bring myself to talk it out with my friends or family as I was often teased for any phobias/sensitivities I had being "pathetic"... until the day all that changed unexpectedly.

One spring afternoon, aged 17, I was tasked with cleaning my bedroom. Whilst doing this job, I noted a big plastic container of objects which turned out to be various childhood possessions. Buried underneath crappy drawings dating as far back as when I started to attend elementary school...

...was the sketchy-looking VHS of Catnapped! my father gave me less than 10 years before.

I looked it over and observed the box had a similar cheap label on the back, badly-snipped paper with a text-blurb I found out was blatantly copied from the back of the official VHS/DVD release hastily glued onto the slipcase. I slid the tape out and noticed the film's title was written on the Memorex labels that presumably came with the blank tape. Below it was "Special Edition" scrawled in pen. I was totally mystified by what it meant, as there was no record of a "Special Edition" in all the obsessive research I had done up to then.

In any case, I contemplated whether or not I should try and face my fears by watching this VHS once more, also to see what I had forgotten for all these years.

A little while later, on a Sunday afternoon in late May as my parents were on their way home from a weekend getaway, leaving my elder siblings in charge of the house, I decided this would be the day.

All by my lonesome, with my siblings occupied with their own things elsewhere in the house, I popped the tape into our living room VCR, sat back and prepared myself for the worst.

The VCR whirred into motion, then the blue screen of the TV's "video" channel was replaced with monochrome static. A second or two later, the static dissipated into a black screen which lasted a few seconds more, leading up to a standard FBI Warning and the equally basic Pioneer Entertainment logo. Just then, an abstract drawing of a golden mecha robot faded in on a black background with white text behind it, reading "GRAND PRIZE WINNER" in smaller text with "GOLDEN MECH AWARD" in bigger letters followed by "1995 SEABOARD ASIAN FILMFEST". It had the usual 35mm telecine image jitter as was typical of movies back then...

...but what wasn't typical was it made a jumpy cut to the same statue in blue, opacity lowered by 75% and the text replaced with obviously Photoshopped words "BE VERY AFRAID!", then some yellow Arial text with a black outline around it faded in, reading "The 1995 Seaboard Asian Filmfest was the only ever event by that name. If you're brave enough to watch to the end, we'll explain everything." It lasted about five seconds before it just as awkwardly made a jumpy cut back to the real Seaboard Asian Filmfest winner notice just before it faded to black.

The movie starts[]

The movie started with a music box version of its weird theme song before segueing into a truncated instrumental of the real deal, all set to a stop-motion sequence of a curtain revealing the title in Kanji and a day-and-night cycle.

After that, the movie proper switched to cel animation and began with snot-nosed preteen boy Toriyasu and his little sister Meeko walking to school, debating as to how their pet dog Papadoll mysteriously vanished; Toriyasu believed the dog simply ran away and no one would steal a lazy pooch while Meeko insisted that aliens abducted him. Eventually, their squabbling led to Meeko reprimanding him for being such a horrible pet owner... and then noticing two cats dressed in coats spying on them in a dark alley.

Later on, the same two cats and another one parked a cat-shaped airship outside the open window of the kids' bedroom. Their attempts to awaken Toriyasu were unsuccessful, accidentally getting the attention of Meeko instead. Once misunderstandings were all cleared up, Meeko readied herself for the trip to where the talking cat trio came from, also defying the fretful one (Henoji) insisting she stay behind and rest well instead. Soon, both kids were on their way to the strange cat world of Banipal Witt, with the colourful bumpy ride amazing Meeko but frightening Toriyasu.

Just as Toriyasu was getting a much-needed explanation for the sudden journey, everything went dark because the airship's pilot (HoiHoi) accidentally went too low, nearly disturbing the Sleeping Cat, on which Banipal Witt rests. Once danger had been averted, Toriyasu and Meeko were informed that if the Sleeping Cat ever woke up, it would mean the apocalypse for Banipal Witt and its residents.

At this point, I was a bit surprised to hear one of these otherwise kinda goofy-looking talking cats describing potential mass casualties with concise yet unnerving detail, even comparing cat-people's heads struck by rubble to jelly donuts!

Finally, with the flash of flare-gun like magic sunlight to signal a day has begun, our heroes arrived in Banipal Witt, showing off plenty of oddball architecture and transportation along the way. Once they landed outside the mansion of an old wizard and stepped outside of the airship, a notable scene of feline transformation began. Remembering the snippet of it too well from that trailer, I felt a pang of tension and braced myself.

Meeko's hand turned into a paw without its claws retracted, whereupon Toriyasu recoiled in fright. Meeko only just began to notice the metamorphosis as she had completely turned into a cat, stretching the tips of her ears twice then her mouth shifted about for a moment.

After pausing for a split-second, she suddenly opened her mouth to reveal a set of fangs, the entire inside of which was drawn in a jarringly grotesque detail with her teeth looking like the tips of various kitchen knives and curved swords. It was accompanied with the actual ear-piercing screech of a domestic feline in a violent state of rage. All of which combined put me into an extreme state of shock.

Luckily, after just a few seconds of this, she clamped her paws onto her mouth. Toriyasu then fell to the ground in a panic attack while Meeko examined her transformed body further in astonishment, then she laughed as her brother was beginning to experience the same thing himself. Trying my best to maintain composure with deep breaths now, I readied myself to take on the scare once more.

Toriyasu's face stretched at both sides while his ears turned into feline ones, prompting to go further into a mental breakdown as he tried in vain to stop his biological shift. His hands turned fuzzy and pointy at the ends while he stared in horrified disbelief, then his teeth also turned pointy as he uncontrollably opened his fang-ridden mouth to yowl with anguish...

...then, perhaps also beyond his control, he clutched both sides of his face with his paws and tore the flesh clean off into halves, exposing muscle and fangs as his bloodshot-eyed gaze took up the entire screen.

I instinctively shrunk back in my seat (almost falling over backwards in it) but reacted too soon as Toriyasu pulled back and bellowed the loud scream of a man who had just been dismembered, rendering me practically motionless in the chair. After he hyperventilated for a second, he passed out onto the grass below as a tail grew from the back of his pants.

Fortunately, HoiHoi nonchalantly pulled out a magic wand and waved it to put Toriyasu's face back together. As he did, he explained that he now understood why he heard of human mothers telling kids not to play with sharp objects. Suttoboke (the nicest cat of the three) assured Meeko that once she gets the hang of a feline body, everything will be fine. This delighted the young girl considerably, who couldn't be any happier to be a cat.

Finding out what's going on[]

The gang all went inside Sandada's mansion to look for him, only to discover he had been turned into a lightweight balloon by the world's evil princess (and successor to the throne) Buburina. The elderly mage lamented what a mess he and the others were in, especially since his magic glove, the Sorcerer's Arm, had been stolen.

Once Toriyasu was introduced to him, though, his tone got more polite and welcoming as he explained that the kids' dog Papadoll had been taken into Banipal Witt and is now terrorizing the populace. The boy naturally refused to believe a word of it, only to be interrupted by a young adult female rebel cat named ChuChu entering the mansion to inform the others Papadoll arrived in a nearby town for the purpose of abduction.

After ChuChu confirmed to Sandada that a male cat named DohDoh was in control of the dog, it cut to a scene with massive panicked crowds of catpeople running for their lives as a monstrous shadow loomed over them. During a close-up of various civilians scrambling for safety, buildings suddenly got destroyed in a cloud of dust and dirt. Several unlucky individuals were thrown about and crushed under a hail of rubble with visible blood stains.

After snatching more civilians into his gigantic mouth, DohDoh, the goofy-looking yet menacing cat piloting Papadoll, complimented the humongous hound for a job well-done. Soon, Papadoll arrived with his rider in tow atop Sandada's mansion, with the lead kids expressing their disbelief.

After failed attempts on our heroes' part to reprimand DohDoh for his thoughtless devotion to Buburina and theft of the Sorcerer's Arm, DohDoh gave Sandada an ultimatum that he must cancel his resistance and bow down to the future monarch by the next day's sunrise, or else Banipal Witt would be plunged into "great disaster".

During all this, Meeko gently approached and petted Papadoll, the giant monster actually reciprocating this very well. Unfortunately, Toriyasu's belligerence made for an interruption and Papadoll promptly made tracks for Buburina's castle... but not before he unleashed a sound wave of rage and abducted Meeko.

Things start getting more creepy[]

Papadoll returned to a colourful and weirdly-shaped palace where the princess Buburina waited with boredom. Upon his arrival, she excitedly dashed to greet him, whereupon the beast upchucked all the catfolk he abducted (plus Meeko) and lowered them off his tongue onto the floor. Every catperson lacked a single imperfection despite being inside his body for so long, strangely enough.

As the feline hostages cowered in the corner of the room in fear, Buburina petted the giant dog until she felt a need to have a word with her simping henchman. Once settled on a living cat-chair thing, she warned a nasty fate unto DohDoh if he were to ever harm Papadoll, demonstrating this by flicking a potted plant.

It immediately began bloating up part-by-pat until it rose above the floor, DohDoh watching anxiously before it suddenly exploded, prompting the guy to shield his face from ceramic fragments and wet bits of plant. This also terrified the captives even more.

Buburina also took the opportunity to taunt DohDoh about how madly in love with her he is, despite also knowing full well he'd fall victim to her balloon curse if he ever touched her.

As she offered him a paw to kiss while he hesitated, a fly landed on it before it too met its end. An obviously pitch-shifted scream of "HELP MEEEEEE!" was audible right before the fly messily exploded, shocking DohDoh (and me) considerably. After another few seconds of struggling with his anxiety, Buburina demanded DohDoh find some work to do.

It was then revealed, through exposition from Sandada, that DohDoh used to be a well-meaning and studious pupil of his before seeing a cursed painting of Buburina, whereupon he was brainwashed and transformed into an older and uglier-looking slave. Not to mention he stole his master's glove.

It was also revealed in this scene that outsiders touched by Banipal Witt's magical sun a second time turn into monsters like Papadoll. Toriyasu imagined himself mutating into a colourful beast with all manner of frightening imagery, also tearing the flesh, spilling the blood and entrails of and crushing the feline companions to a pulp in the process and wrecking Sandada's mansion. The boy freaked out like a coward and demanded they return him home before ChuChu gave him a good tongue-lashing

Sandada, still surprisingly patient with such a wretched waste of space, explained only someone who truly cares about Papadoll can restore normalcy to him and Banipal Witt.

Back at the palace, a feline pyramid of captives attempted to break out of the dungeon with Meeko, taking advantage of her new feline body, making a successful leap to the balcony everyone couldn't reach.

Unfortunately, she only managed as far as a barred window to the throne room where Buburina was lounging, petting Papadoll and expositing that DohDoh had found him neglected in the yard and brought him to Banipal Witt. Soon, a flashback and conversation between her and her immobilized king and queen parents revealed she was cursed as punishment for her brattiness causing the death of a visiting magician's daughter.

(this rather sad scene was surprisingly tame compared to everything else, that to which I still give the staff a free pass)

Later on, from this point onward, is where everything totally diverges from everyone's memory of the film (as it "normally" plays out).

The evil plan unfolds[]

In the evening, Buburina had her prisoners assembled to show them a model of Banipal Witt getting obliterated from the Sleeping Cat getting awakened by a giant mouse. This was to explain that she plans to establish a new dictatorship, where the place will be turned into an egocentric theme park with a circus catering exclusively to her whims and encourage everyone to dissuade the rebel troops from trying to dispose of her. Her reason being she never gets to have any fun and no one wants to be near her due to the curse.

Meeko found the plans to be rubbish, then proceeded to openly call out Buburina for her cruelty to everyone and misuse of a stolen pet dog for her own selfish purposes. The petulant princess herself seethed with anger but was pushed further into a vindictive rage by getting called a witch. Finding this an affront to her self-proclaimed enviable beauty, she attempted to murder Meeko by popping her but, luckily, found she couldn't because the girl was really a human.

Buburina then realized she could use Meeko as leverage to negotiate with Sandada's resistance movement for surrender, otherwise another monster-pet will be in her possession.

It was at this moment that I began to feel tension and disturbed emotions I hadn't before.

Buburina began dashing about the inside of the dungeon chamber turning all of her prisoners (sans Meeko) into balloons, putting on hypnotic eyes to lull her prisoners into submission to hasten the process while DohDoh drew a curtain and herded them into a strange room where the giant mouse balloon was being unveiled to wrap them up, it turned out.

At some point in all this, a few prisoners resisted her hypnosis, prompting a nightmarishly deranged and sadistic grin to manifest over her visage as she rapidly slapped each of them in the face with her open palms in the span of barely two seconds.

Once she took a few paces back, they all immediately began swelling up rapidly to elephantine proportions, screaming in agony as their hides throbbed and quivered before graphically exploding into fragments of fuzzy flesh and clothing, chunks of bone and organs with a large splash of blood coating Buburina, who held her arms out to maximize bodily coverage like a child in front of waves at the beach.

Luckily, Meeko (somehow) avoided getting so much as a drop of blood or remains of catpeople on herself, even though she stood there shell-shocked. "BACK INTO THE CELL WITH YOU, YOU LITTLE SHIT!", she yelled in a demonic tone of voice, sounding like a normal and downward pitch-shifted copy of the same dialogue combined, then she threw Meeko back inside the cell and the guards slammed it shut.

...I was already feeling shaken by what I was seeing, then I felt even worse with her... basically bobbing up and down in a suggestive way while her face slowly changed to a blush of... excess happiness. Needless to say, I was sickened with the implications, so I won't describe this part further.

Approaching the climax[]

Meanwhile, Toriyasu, ChuChu and the other cats were on their way to sneak into the palace when the two began bickering over an out-of-nowhere story about a forbidden love between a cat and a mouse (obviously involving ChuChu).

The feline action girl quickly reprimanded him for his prejudiced attitude before she offhandedly admitted she looked forward to meeting a human, only to find Toriyasu a disappointment. Then he proceeded to shoot his mouth off with views of catfolk and women like a racist incel, angering ChuChu to the point of drawing forth her claws...

...then an art shift took place as 2D quickly morphed into a chroma-keyed claymation face (think Large Marge from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure) that grew uglier, grotesquely detailed and more vicious with rage by the second. All the while, a deep monstrous voice yelled "SHUT YOUR MOUTH, YOU CHAUVINISTIC BIGOTED MOTHERFUCKER... OR I'LL DEVOUR YOUR FLEA-BITTEN HIDE, SPILL YOUR ORGANS AND WEAR YOUR BLOOD LIKE WAR PAINT!".

This was interrupted by Henoji announcing they had reached their destination, quickly reverting ChuChu's face back to its 2D animated look in a flash. Toriyasu broke free of his shocked state to reluctantly ready himself for the infiltration... after which an echoing voice of his representing thoughts said, "These monsters must never know my true secret...".

Once they got inside, Suttoboke picked up Meeko's scent and followed it to the prisoners' chamber where he found Meeko being held captive. She explained to him what happened and, after trying his best to avoid touching the remains of exploded cats, followed instructions she overheard Buburina give to DohDoh about launching and controlling the mouse balloon.

ChuChu and Henoji (in their infinite wisdoms) tied a rope to Toriyasu's tail, gave him a sleeping pill made by Sandada and Papadoll's chain to attach to the collar. This went about as well as you'd expect, with him slipping and inadvertently waking up Buburina (who was resting with Papadoll). After licking her lips, swallowing the capsule in the process, she began using her hypnosis powers to prevent him from escaping.

Everything from Toriyasu's perspective turned into a swirling and distorting mass of colour and shape, with Buburina morphing into a clown-faced cat-headed Eastern dragon-like thing swerving this way and that around our dubious hero. ChuChu broke him free of this spell by distracting her with a cat toy launched from a distance but soon got caught and hypnotized herself. Toriyasu managed to rescue her, escape and be taken to safety by Henoji and HoiHoi.

The final battle begins[]

Pretty soon, everyone was caught up in a climactic battle thousands of feet above the ground, with Toriyasu and ChuChu vs. Buburina atop Papadoll and Meeko with Suttoboke vs. DohDoh on the giant mouse balloon.

Buburina told ChuChu and Toriyasu that his sister would be safely released in exchange for the rebels' surrender, only to find out Meeko had been set free earlier by Suttoboke. This enraged her enough to try and pop both Toriyasu and ChuChu, failing because she impulsively forgot he too is a human and ChuChu dodged her effortlessly.

As the fight came to a near stalemate in the midst of further chaos, DohDoh mockingly reminded Toriyasu of how little he cared for the dog, leading to a disheartening flashback scene.

After getting bullied for his interest in space aliens whilst taking Papadoll for a walk, he returned home angry and in pain before taking it out on his poor dog. Not only did he repeatedly kick Papadoll to the point of bruises, but he also said "You are a worthless animal and you always get me in trouble!" in an acidic tone of voice. It segued into a montage of further acts of abuse like withholding meals or water as "punishment", locking him outside the house during a harsh rainstorm and so forth.

Toriyasu looked unfazed for a second, then DohDoh continued with his verbal destruction of the boy's self-proclaimed dignity, by revealing that Toriyasu is in fact, the younger self of Hijirekku (Rekka Hijiri), a ruthless war criminal from an alternate universe. It then showed a montage of various rotoscoped scenes with soldiers dying from gunshots on the battlefield or getting graphically crushed by tanks, villagers attempting to flee from a bombing raid, explosions destroying marketplaces and so forth.

It also turned out that when DohDoh brought Papadoll to Banipal Witt, he traveled to the present day Earth using the skills he learned with the stolen Sorcerer's Arm. Upon reading through a time-space library only Sandada knew about and learning Hijirekku had a history of abusing animals, DohDoh used the very same time/space travel skills to kidnap a younger version of him from the same AU where he later became a war criminal and took him to Meeko's house, disguising him as an orphan in need of shelter.

The mother, who had a newborn Meeko in her arms, couldn't say no to a cute-looking boy (unaware of what he'd turn out to be) and let him stay.

Everyone on the scene, even Buburina, was shocked at this discovery. Meeko couldn't believe what she'd heard.

DohDoh then boastfully admitted that he and Buburina knew each other as kittens when Sandada used to send his best magic students to perform with the Great Magician and entertain the royals (effectively proving the painting never brainwashed him).

Jealous that the magician's daughter Lily was getting better attention with her nicer personality despite being a novice while he practiced harder... he and young-Buburina (who was beginnign to get spoiled less and more punished as she got older, which she resented) arranged for Lily to be killed in a hands-free murder and make it look like an accident, knowing full well she would be punished with a curse indirectly granting her powers to control everyone as she saw fit.

From there, Buburina (who had been granted a balloon-touch curse and hypnotic powers) developed an obsessive desire for control and self-pleasure, even relishing in the deaths of everyone who displeased her, thus she plotted to usurp her royal parents and turn Banipal Witt into her personal playground of forced happiness.

As the straw that broke the camel's back, DohDoh cruelly admitted he killed the mouse for whom ChuChu loved dearly, a flashback depicting him using a deadly spell that lifted the poor rodent feet above the ground, strangled him to death, threw him at a wall and turned him into dust on impact... right in front of a horrified ChuChu.

He did it because he was incensed that she loved a mouse more than her own flesh-and-blood. Reminded of the trauma, she tearfully confessed she hoped a human would arrive in Banipal Witt some day to kill her monster of a brother, even begging that Toriyasu wasn't actually a future warmonger...

...to which he nonchalantly admitted he rescued her only because he planned on keeping her as a sex-slave in retribution for not knowing her place as a woman and scaring him shitless with her claymation rage face.

Repulsed by this, she promptly kicked him in the crotch hard enough that he went flying several feet up toward Meeko, begging his foster sis to ignore these fuzzy lunatics and spare him. She said "No way, asshole. Time to learn the true meaning of pain.", then gave him a hard punch in the face, knocking out a fang, drawing blood from his open mouth and sending him flying back all the way into Buburina atop Papadoll's back.

Toriyasu (still refusing to identify himself as Hijirekku) proclaimed he wouldn't let Buburina use his favourite target for abuser practice so he wanted the dog back to torture some more while Buburina wanted a clownish weapon of destruction and beast to entertain her hypnotized subjects, so both cats got into a brutal fistfight (remember that he cannot be popped).

Luckily, Meeko managed to hop from the mouse balloon onto Papadoll's back and retrieve the chain before both could lose it.

The fight escalated to where Buburina left the beast and hopped into an unmanned guard's hot air balloon stashed with missiles, ready to obliterate our heroes (impulsively forgetting that Papadoll and her captives in the mouse balloon would be killed too) but Toriyasu snuck inside to avoid getting killed himself.

When she caught him in the hot air balloon with her, both conitnued their physical fight until it resulted in the missile being launched too soon and pushing them down to the ground at a high speed.

Screaming futilely for mercy, the hot air balloon hurtled thousands of feet to the ground before it finally crash-landed and was totally destroyed in a fiery explosiion, the cloud rising high enough to just below Papadoll's feet hovering in mid-air. There was even a slow-motion shot of Buburina and Toriyasu writhing in agony as their bodies graphically disintegrated into nothing against a fiery yellow background, their bodies and clothing charring with their eyes melting/evaporating until even their skeletons vanished into dust.

Once everyone commented with no shred of sympathy on the untimely passing of two horrible monsters, Meeko went to successfully latch the chain onto Papadoll's collar and revert him to a normal dog.

DohDoh, announcing he would reign in Buburina's place to avenge her death, tried to stop Meeko but ended up losing the stolen glove while doing so. Luckily, Suttoboke caught it in the nick of time whilst he was jumping back into HoiHoi's airship while Henoji was tense about the magical sun rising at any moment.

After managing to scoop up Meeko and Papadoll into the airship, they made a quick stop near Sandada (who had been watching the events unfold as he prepared to arrive with his troops carrying him on a rope) to give him the Sorcerer's Arm which isntantly deflated him to normal upon wearing it.

Then once the sun rose just as the airship warped away in time, Sandada cast a spell to make the mouse balloon vanish and revert everyone cursed by Buburina to normal.

DohDoh, meanwhile, fell into a lake just outside the palace area and ultimately drowned, sinking below and leaving only a solitary bubble to rise to the surface and pop.

The end[]

With Meeko no longer a cat, she and the others discussed what could be learned from the experience. Basically, Buburina had been spoiled to where she could take advantage of others' love and trust, while DohDoh only cared about glory (having fooled Sandada into thinking he would use magic to help others) and Hijirekku saw the weak as nothing more than target practice to prove he could become stronger.

More or less, the film's morals amounted to "violent cruelty is not true strength" and "be careful who you love, as someone might take advantage of you and cause trouble later on".

Despite how grim it all was, I felt quite amazed that (frightening visuals notwithstanding) an animated movie would have the bravery to present such hard truth messages, especially the latter.

Needless to say, the movie seemingly ended happily with Meeko going back home to a normal life, with the reassurance that the trio of cats and ChuChu would negotiate with the king and queen for an improved sociopolitical system that Banipal Witt would follow from here on out...

...but then an epilogue showed that while Banipal Witt was successfully repaired with its royal couple voluntarily resigning and allowing a monarchy to be dismantled, in favour of a democracy...

...Meeko's mental health never got repaired. She slipped progressively further into insanity as time went on, first becoming distant with her parents and friends due to a budding predilection for domestic felines.

Then as she got older, she began obsessively hoarding feline-themed memorabilia and using odd jobs babysitting pet cats to fund her fixation. Although she successfully passed an exam for an international scholarship in the US and later graduated with a degree in veterinary studies, she eventually lost her job due to numerous reports of... "behaving strangely with cats entrusted to her care", so to speak.

Later, when sent to a mental health clinic after being caught acting like and identifying as a cat, a psychiatric diagnosis confirmed she had suffered the long-term effects of trauma and when pressed for an answer what caused this, she (truthfully) claimed to have witnessed horrors in a world of humanoid cats, including the revelation that her "brother" was a transplant from another universe who'd grow up to be a genocidal warmonger. No one believed any of it and she was committed to a psychiatric ward.

The final scene was a slow haunting zoom-out of adult Meeko wearing a strait-jacket inside a padded room with a black background surrounding the image enveloping it until it faded out with a blur effect. The same music box tune starting the film was heard again, only progressively getting more and more off-key, then winding down into nothing with the speed and pitch getting slower.

After this, the theme song I had heard in the trailer many years before played in its entirety under another stop motion sequence, then the English dub credits on a black background.

Epilogue[]

Once the copyright info faded out, the image got warping and static all over it before a jump-cut to a blue background with the yellow/black-outlined Arial font from the beginning of the tape.

It read...

"Congratulations, you have successfully watched the entire Seaboard Asian Filmfest edit of 'Catnapped!' without a complete mental breakdown."

Then a few seconds later, in its place...

"We promised to explain to you everything and since you made it here, we shall oblige."

Then...

"A children's anime feature was planned in the early 90's with a soundtrack CD and two companion books on sale."

"But somehow, malevolent hands invaded the production and turned it into a barrage of dark imagery with a terribly-executed message of forgiveness."

"So others involved planned to make a new ending to replace the terrible one and limit its release, in order to save everyone." "Thus, the 1995 Seaboard Asian Filmfest was organized as a ploy to draw attention toward the criminals responsible for the nightmare version."

"It ended with traumatized kids being removed from the venue, angry parents demanding justice and a warrant to arrest the wicked producers hiding in New York City." "Eventually, the crooks were apprehended and imprisoned, their print was destroyed in a public bonfire and only this hastily edited version of that print survives.

Meanwhile, the director's original vision still lives on as the movie he intended, and was made readily available on video in North America."

"If you saw it before, you may not remember it because this tape is a special videocassette designed with barely-known technology."

"It can detect excess fear within a five-yard radius. When it happens, the tape immediately changes to hypnotic imagery erasing only what you see on the tape from your mind." "So if this is not your first try but you succeeded... very good!" "You may keep or get rid of the tape. Telling others about it may result in disbelief but no repercussions from us, we promise." "The more others know about what happened to someone's artistic vision... the better. ... ...the decision is yours."

After that, the text faded out and more black screen for five seconds until static manifested one last time. I then hit the stop and eject buttons on the VCR, took out the tape and slipped it back inside the box.

Sometime later, I worked up the courage to ask my father how he got ahold of this VHS. He then explained to me that he tried looking for the movie when my younger self wanted to see it, later finding out through a shipmate that there had been a bizarre case in New York involving this particular movie.

So, after taking this matter to their boss, a fact-finding trip was arranged and upon entering, both men checked the directions for where to find one of the filmfest's organizers.

They met in a secluded alley on one of the streets where the "organizer" was wearing a trench coat, fedora hat and balaclava. He pulled out the VHS from a briefcase and reminded my father of his offer to have it for free in exchange for a pack of White Castle burgers, as he had himself and a crew to feed while living on welfare checks until they could find a brave soul who could successfully watch the tape from beginning to end.

My father asked what that meant, and he was then told that after the Seaboard Film Festival went bust, a deal was made between them and the FBI that they would only receive the second half of a $1.5 million reward if they could prove the groundbreaking anti-trauma technology to be effective.

One pack of White Castle burgers later, that my father had to stop his companion from throwing into the trash due to the horrid odour.. and the VHS was his for free. Then he returned home and the rest was history.

My dad then recalled I was eager to watch it after he came home, then he heard the audio mysteriously change into a soothing drone in various notes. Both me and him wondered if perhaps it was the "amti-trauma technology" activating, hence why I didn't remember the movie's content at first.

Sadly, last that my dad checked, the very man he spoke to in NYC was murdered years ago in a case that remains unsolved to this day but is rumoured to have been one of the film's vandals.

In the end, I chose to keep the tape, thinking an obscure piece of history and retaliation against criminals was a true souvenir money couldn't buy.

And though years later, I ended up getting quite the attention for this bizarre tape, even spawning memes, cartoon-centric YouTuber vlogs and YTPs alike... ... ...the memories of how it all made me feel are the price I still pay.

--

THE END



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