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Anime / Lily C.A.T.

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Lily C.A.T. is is a science fiction/horror anime film distributed by Studio Pierrot in Japan and Streamline Pictures in North America. Released in 1987, the film follows the spaceship Saldes on a 40-year mission. Under the instructions of an unknown force, the ship's A.I. computer system accidentally introduces an alien bacterium into the ship while its human crew is in cryostasis. Naturally, both the ship and the unknown force want to eradicate the bacterium from the ship but also to cover up for this blunder. And quite unfortunately, the crew of Saldes find themselves battling against the bacteria, the ship, and even amongst themselves for survival.

Lily C.A.T. drew heavily from eighties sci-fi film elements, most obviously from Alien and The Thing (1982). The crew's struggles against the A.I. is also reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Character designs and even monster designs were provided by none other than Yoshitaka Amano.

This anime provides examples of:

  • Ambiguous Ending: Did Hiro and Nancy escape the Saldes free from the bacterial infection, or are one or both of them infected, and dooming the new planet by bringing the bacteria to it?
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted, Guy, the one black man in the crew, is roughly the third person to die.
  • Body Horror: The bacteria dissolves whoever catches it into primordial goop and then fusions them together a la The Thing (1982). And then there's the guys who inflate and explode because of being Thrown Out the Airlock.
  • Cold Sleep, Cold Future: Discussed extensively by Captain Hamilton, who mentions that he had a son who was only a baby when he left on his first voyage who grew into a man older than he was. The constant use of cryostasis caused him to outlive all of his friends and family, as well as having to get used to such things as new technologies and societal changes every time he arrives back home.
  • Coming in Hot: When Hiro and Nacy escape aboard the shuttle, the physical body of the bacterium chases after them and attaches to the ship. Before it can penetrate the hull however, it's vaporized in the Conveniently Close Planet atmosphere.
  • Conveniently Close Planet: The climax of the movie takes place just above an inhabitable planet.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: First contact with an alien life-form results in a lot of dead people and Body Horror. It is an unfeeling, lethal universe.
  • The Determinator: Barry. Being a cop, he's hell-bent on bringing Hiro to justice and followed him into space to catch him. Made even more obvious that he sticks with the others and keeps Hiro handcuffed to his side already knowing himself to be infected.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Jimmy admits to Captain Hamilton in the latter part of the movie that he volunteered for the mission because he was looking to impress his Section Chief and prove to everyone that he could make something of himself. He ultimately reflects on how stupid the idea was as he missed out on having a family, and that by the time he got home the people he was looking to impress would either be dead or they simply wouldn't care anymore because of the amount of time that had passed. Not to mention being trapped on a spaceship with an alien bacterium that’s trying to kill them.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: The titular Lily C.A.T. Just to mess with the viewer, there is an android duplicate of the cat that is really working with the computer to bring back the alien for study. Yes, this anime merged two of the tropes from Alien.
  • Dwindling Party: At the start of the film there are thirteen crew members as well as Both Lily's, by the end only Hiro and Nancy are left alive. The order of deaths being Morgan, Dr. Mead, Guy, Wat, !real/Lily, Walt, Dular, Dorothy, Carolyn, Jimmy, Dick and Captain Hamilton.
  • Empty Piles of Clothing: The only thing left after the alien organism devours its victims.
  • Escape Pod: Captain Hamilton has a conveniently stowed away space shuttle that Hiro and Nacy escape on.
  • Explosive Decompression: Dular and Walt don't survive for long after they are thrown out the open cargo bay door, inflating and exploding a la Total Recall.
  • Explosions in Space: When Saldes detaches contaminated sections of the ship, they float away and explode. And when the Saldes itself explodes.
  • Expy: Lily has the distinct honor of serving as three expies at once. Though the fact that there are two of them complicates things.
    • First, she is one to Jones the cat from Alien, a pet brought on board the ship who has a tendency to disappear, prompting a search that leads to dramatic things unfolding.
    • Then to the Dog-Thing from The Thing (1982), in how she wanders around the ship observing the crew in unsettling ways that are most distinctly not at all like a cat. This is in fact the robotic double, which is indeed plotting against them.
    • Finally, to Ash, again from Alien. Lily C.A.T. is in fact a robot working for the Corporation that wants to bring the alien back and study it, and is willing to eliminate the crew to complete its mission.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Hamilton has a pretty epic one as he makes his last stand:
    Hamilton: Registration number—23703 Lily-CAT. You're not going to bring this plague ship back except over my dead body."
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The journey from Earth to their destination still takes twenty years both ways, thus necessitating a Sleeper Starship.
  • The Gunslinger: Morgan W. Scott tries to be this but he's the first victim of the bacteria.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Hamilton does this to blow up the ship and prevent the bacteria from going back to Earth.
  • Human Popsicle: The crew start the movie climbing into sleep pods. Amusingly, the cat has her own cat-sized pod. The effects of cryogenics are discussed, as several of the characters have lost decades due to repeated trips, with the according loss of friends and family along with it.
  • Idiot Ball: It wouldn't be a horror film without it.
  • Info Dump: Better brace, because almost every single conversation on this movie is full of them.
  • Inspector Javert: Barry keeps treating Hiro like a prisoner to escort, even 1) after the captain points out (repeatedly) that the two men will outlive anybody who still cares about the case, let alone the statue of limitations, 2) there is a lethal alien roaming around and they should rather be focusing on working together to survive and 3) it turns out that after being attacked Barry is infected and will turn and try to kill everybody at any second.
  • Jump Scare: Way too many, including seeing tentacles pop out of nowhere and tear apart a poor cat.
  • Justice Will Prevail: Inverted. Hamilton points out to Barry that by the time they get back to Earth to bring Hiro to justice, anyone who actually cared would be dead.
  • Killer Robot: Lily C.A.T.
  • MegaCorp: Sincam, the company that set the Saldes out appears to be this. Especially since they placed Lily C.A.T. on board and through Lily C.A.T. order Saldes to return to Earth, sans its passengers.
  • No New Fashions in the Future: The characters are wearing casual 80s clothes in the 23rd century. Even provides the page image!
  • Sleeper Starship: All starships are equipped with cryostasis units, allowing travel between planets.
  • Spot the Imposter: Barry reveals that two people in the crew snuck onboard the ship with false identities. A subplot in the film has each of the crew being interviewed to check if theirs stories match their background data. It's revealed that Hiro is one of the imposters—having borrowed a friend's ID to escape into space, and Barry himself, who's been trying to bring Hiro to justice for murder.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The movie explores the fact that people who go into cold sleep will leave their loved ones behind as they remain the same and the people left behind age.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Hiro murdered the three men who'd forced his sister into drugs and prostitution, which led to her unfortunate death. Barry states that he did feel sorry for Hiro, but Hiro murdering the men torpedoed Barry's entire investigation into their prostitution ring and two and a half years of work amounted to nothing.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: The unfortunate fates of Dular and Walt.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Hamilton explains that by the time he returned to earth after being on a cold sleep trip through space his infant son would have grown up into a man older than him without him.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Hamilton explains that for him and his crew as career space freighters, the repeat 40-50 year trips mean that they are well over 150 years old, and each time they return home, the world has changed drastically, many of their friends and loved ones are now "older" or dead, and it can turn into an endless depressing cycle of coming home years later and shipping out to escape the pain of the culture shock, only to do it all again.