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Anime / Bagi, the Monster of Mighty Nature

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Just another story about a boy and his genetically modified super intelligent talking pet cat

A Science Fiction anime film, written and directed by Osamu Tezuka in 1984. It was a protest against gene recombination, that was being legalized in Japan during that time.

When he was a little boy, Ryo Ishigami received a present from his father: a pink kitten, whom he named Bagi. As the little cat grew, it started to show signs of intelligence beyond a normal animal. She tried to read, write and walk on hind legs. The boy's father was terrified that the kitten could be a mutant of some sort, and decided to get rid of Bagi, despite Ryo's protests (he and the cat had become very good friends by that point). However, the father did not have to do anything, for Bagi had escaped.

Now, age 15, Ryo is a member of an up-to-no-good motorcycle gang, skipping school and getting into trouble with his new friends. For his misdemeanor he blames his father, who, busy with his detective work, is seldom seen at home, and his scientist mother, who completely devoted her life to her profession and does not even live with her family anymore.

One day the gang was riding about town, when its leader spotted a young woman, and decided to chase her, just for fun. When finally catching up with her, he discovers, to his horror, that the "lady" is, in fact, some sort of monster, who immediately starts to attack one gang member after another. When only Ryo is left, the monster-lady looks at him, but does not harm him, and runs away. After the rest of the gang comes back to their senses, the leader swears to find the monster-lady who attacked them, and take revenge.

They find an abandoned house, when they suspect she might live, and decide to wait for her inside. When darkness came, the leader sends Ryo for a lookout outside. Right then the monster returns, and attacks the gang once again. Ryo turns to the door, expecting to be attacked next. When the monster walks out, she turns out to be half-woman, half-cat. She talks, and tells him that she is Bagi. Terrified of what he saw and hears, Ryo gets on his motorcycle, and rides home as fast as he can.

When he gets home, he finds the cat-woman to be waiting for him. From her he learns that she is indeed his old cat, only grown-up into what she is now. When Ryo asks her who she is: a cat or a human, she replies that she does not know herself; she has been looking for another of her kind for years, but with no success. As he thinks about Bagi's possible origin, he remembers that his father found her near the laboratory his mother works at. The two decide to go there, in search for answers.

And THAT... is only the premise.

The film had only been officially released in Japan on DVD and Blu-Ray.

The film provides examples of:

  • Adults Are More Anthropomorphic: Bagi started out as a little kitten whose only unusual features are humanlike eyes (well, that, and the pinkish fur, which is pointed out only once). She starts displaying anthropomorphic behavior when she watches an exercise show and starts imitating the dancers. By the time she reaches adulthold, she has become a Funny Animal and can speak the human language, but is still capable of animal-like movement and agility (such as when she and Ryosuke avoid the security systems of the laboratory complex she was born in). Towards the end of the movie, Ryosuke's mother does something to Bagi that causes her to lose her humanity and regress to a feral state.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Even after reverting to a feral state, Bagi still remains highly intelligent and shows strategy fighting.
  • An Aesop: Two, actually:
    • "All living beings deserve to live"
    • "Don't mess with nature".
  • Animation Bump: When Ryo and Bagi are running through the infrared security system, and when Bagi leaps from wall to wall in a hallway.
  • Art Shift: The president's explanation on how genetic engineering works.
  • Artificial Animal People: Bagi, a cougar with implanted human DNA and the only one of fifteen genetic prototypes not hunted down and killed after Escaping from the Lab.
  • Badass Normal: Ryo slowly becomes this during the course of the film. Semmen Bond is implied to be one.
  • A Boy and His X: A boy and his genetically-engineered cat-girl. Ryo is forced to grow and accept how some people he loved were damn jerks (including his own mother) and he has to stop them. Part of what makes Bagi decide to act more human is for Ryo's sake which makes it more painful for the both of them when it turns out that her animorphism is a "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome situation.
  • Beehive Hairdo: Professor Ishigami.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Ryo kills Bagi but discovers that she didn't kill his mother or anyone else. Then it turns out that Bagi wasn't dead but she's lost her intelligence and Ryo will most likely never see her again.
  • Cat Girl: Take a good guess.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Borders on crossing over into the DANGER ZONE but Bagi is this. Though as the movie progresses, she begins to regress towards her half-animal side and eventually loses speech and coherent thought by the end.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: There are several moments when the film does just this, with no foreshadowing and have no bearing on the plot whatsoever.
  • Disney Death: Bagi, after being run through by Ryo's knife.
  • Escaped from the Lab: Bagi was one of fifteen genetic prototypes that escaped from a research lab during an earthquake and was the only prototype not hunted down and killed. She becomes a young boy's pet kitten, and grows to become a formidable huntress that returns to the lab to learn her origins.
  • Framing Device: Ryo hunting down Bagi five years later, the latter apparently attacking and killing villagers. It turns out it was just normal animals who were menacing them.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: This anime is about Osamu Tezuka's fear about what happens when people play with genetics.
  • Hammerspace: When Ryo's mother feeds the animals the rice she created, a dog pulls out a bottle of water and adds drops to his share of rice.
  • Honor Before Reason: When Colonel Sado sees Ryo trying to escape on a motorcycle, he hands Ryo a sword so he could duel for his escape. Ryo simply gets on the motorcycle and drives off.
  • High-Pressure Emotion: Ryo when Semmen Bond double crosses him.
  • Interspecies Romance: It's quite obvious that Bagi loves Ryo very much. Ryo on the other hand, doesn't ever catch on, or he's turned off by the fact that she's an anthro cougar that used to be his pet.
  • It's Personal: Ryo in the Framing Device has a personal vendetta against Bagi — she killed his mother when she promised not to. He didn't know she was set free, however.
  • Mad Scientist: The one responsible for the creation of Bagi. A mild example though, since he is not that mad.
  • Male Gaze: Bagi shows off her butt.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Plays this for tragedy. Bagi starts out as a Funny Animal, but turns more and more feral as time passes.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Bagi was on the receiving end of it.
  • Mood Whiplash: When Ryo's mother reveals that Bagi will soon be executed, Ryo briefly makes a highly over the top, cartoony Wild Take.
  • Mugging the Monster: A motorcycle gang chases down what they take to be a woman in a trench coat. She packs quite a scratch, leaving all but Ryo wounded with no wounds herself. It's later revealed that this woman was the titular Bagi and that she was a cat previously owned by Ryo, explains why she didn't attack him.
  • Obviously Evil: All of the villains.
  • Only Friend: Bagi tells Ryo this repeatedly, affirming how much she trusts him.
  • Pet Baby Wild Animal: Bagi is adopted by a family who thinks she's just a large housecat (she is in fact a cougar with implanted human DNA).
  • Poor Communication Kills: Bagi losing her ability to talk means she's unable to tell Ryo that his mother let her go. This leads to Ryo stabbing her.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Baby Bagi.
  • Science Is Bad: Science will kill kittens, if not stopped.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Can you guess which book provided the inspiration for the name "Bagi"?
    • The scene between Bagi and Professor Ishigami is heavily inspired by Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Even the heart box shows up.
    • Semmen Bond may be a shout-out to James Bond, he even has a tune that has the familiar jingle in it when he is on screen.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: Towards the end it is revealed Bagi had "matured yet again", resulting in the sudden loss of much of her intelligence. It comes out of nowhere and it's not until the closing credits does the viewer put the pieces together. For all intents and purposes, she's reverted back to a wild feral animal. Her character is destroyed and she lives out the remainder of her life as a lonely predator.
  • The Only One I Trust: Bagi adores Ryo.
  • Tragic Monster: If Bagi is a monster, she is one of these.
  • You Killed My Father: Ryo mistakenly believes that Bagi killed his mother.