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Film / The Adventures of Milo and Otis

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We're gonna take a walk outside today.

The Adventures of Milo and Otis (or Koneko Monogatari, meaning "A Kitten's Story" in its original Japanesenote ) is a 1986 film (released in the U.S. in 1989).

Milo is a curious orange kitten whose best friend is a serious pug named Otis. They live a carefree life on a farm where they spend their days playing hide and seek and causing mischief. All that changes though when Milo is swept away by the river and Otis must embark on an amazing journey to rescue his friend and bring him home.

The American version was narrated by Dudley Moorenote , and notably cut many scenes out from the original Japanese version to be Lighter and Softer.

We're gonna take a trope outside today...

  • All Animals Are Dogs: Inverted: when Milo and Otis first meet and Otis explains that he's a dog, Milo thinks "dog" is a type of cat. Played straight when their children meet and one of Otis's sons thinks Milo's family are "strange-looking dogs."
  • Ash Face: During Milo's hide-and-seek game with Otis, Milo finds a hiding spot in the form of a chimney. He pops out of the chimney covered in ashes.
  • Babies Ever After: Both Milo and Otis end up with mates and a litter, and the film ends with both families resuming their journey back to the farm where Milo and Otis grew up. Several of the animals encountered during the initial journey are also shown to have their own babies by the end.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Milo and Otis encounter several bears on their adventures. It's never a good thing.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Milo just barely escaped from the bear, but he ends up falling into a steep pit that's too deep to climb or jump out of. All he could do is meow and call for help, even though he doesn't think that there's anyone around to hear him. "But someone did..." - cue Otis finally finding Milo and helping his friend out.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the Japanese version, Milo and Otis are far from home and probably have no hope of ever returning. However they still have each other and their own families.
  • Book Ends: See All Animals Are Dogs
  • Brick Joke: When Milo and Otis first meet, Milo thinks that dogs are a type of cat. Towards the end of the film, one of Otis' children thinks that Milo and his family are dogs; one of Milo's children quickly corrects him.
  • Call-Back: When Otis yells for Milo to get out of the box before something happens, the narrator says "But something did!" Cue the box floating away. Much later, when Milo is struggling to climb out of a deep pit, he meows for help even though he's certain that no one will hear him. The narrator says "But someone did." and we hear Otis barking as he rushes to Milo's aid.
  • Cats Are Mean: Averted. The movie was extensively reworked from its original Japanese release, but the protagonist cat, Milo, is portrayed as good natured and curious, and even his occasional mischievous moments are generally endearing rather than off-putting. He's also best friends with a dog.
    • Briefly played straight in the original Japanese version when Joyce hisses at and strikes Otis, causing Otis to run away (rather than Otis leaving of his own volition; see Third Wheel for details).
  • Chekhov's Gun: When Milo's mother takes him and his siblings down to the river for the first time, there is a wooden box inexplicably floating next to the dock. It stays in that spot for years to come, only drifting away at precisely the wrong moment for no apparent reason.
  • Coming of Age Story: Milo is born, has a happy childhood, but ends up disobeying his mother and as a consequence leaves home and faces the hardships of the world. After overcoming many dangers and staring death in the face, he finds another cat with whom he falls in love and eventually becomes father to a litter of kittens of his own. Most of this applies to Otis as well, although his reason for leaving home was to rescue Milo.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: The fox that both Milo and Otis meet on separate occasions appears to be crafty and fun loving (although Milo does outsmart him).
  • Cute Kitten: Milo of course. There are also a couple of others on his farm, identified only as "the local snoops". Also. Milo's own offspring.
  • Down on the Farm: The first portion of the movie takes place on the farm where both Milo and Otis are born. Milo sees at least two more farms during his part of the journey.
  • Dub Name Change: The original names of the cat and dog are Chatran and Poosky respectively. These names were kept in some of the dubs such as the Norwegian one. In English however, they were named Milo and Otis.
  • Dub-Induced Plotline Change: Both the original Koneko Monogatari and the adaptation Milo and Otis were cut separately from the huge amount (over 40 hours) of raw footage originally shot. This leads to both of the two versions containing scenes that are exclusive to it and not present in the other. The overall tone as conveyed through the editing, music, and narration is also markedly different between the two versions, with Milo and Otis coming across as a bit Lighter and Softer compared to the more artsy and dramatic Koneko Monogatari.
  • Exact Words: The film does not have a No Animals Were Harmed disclaimer. Instead, it says that all the animals had careful supervision, and never indicates they weren't harmed.
  • A Friend in Need: Even though Otis ran off without fully explaining feeling alienated due to being a Third Wheel when Joyce joined him and Milo, Milo's reaction when he sees Otis again is pure joy, and he readily shares a small haul of fish so that Otis can feed his own family.
  • Gossipy Hens: A literal version in Gloria, who promptly enlists Otis to guard her newly laid egg while she goes out to tell all the other farm animals about it. Of course, the other hens get in on this too.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: The titular pair, who are intensely loyal to each other.
  • The Homeward Journey: Milo gets lost down the river and Otis follows to rescue him. They spend the rest of the film trying to get home.
  • I Will Find You: Once Milo gets lost, Otis embarks on a relentless journey to rescue him.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: Happens to Milo during his trip down the river in a box.
  • Interspecies Adoption: Milo and Otis take a lesson in responsibility when they raise a baby chicken at the beginning of the film.
  • Interspecies Friendship: Milo and Otis. Most animals are portrayed as friendly cross species except for bears, screech owls, seagulls, and crabs.
  • Incoming Ham: When Otis encounters the fox.
  • Is It Something You Eat?:
    • Early in the film, Milo and Otis come across a scary looking crustacean.
      Milo: "Wow, look at this thing Otis! Do you think we can eat it?"
      Otis: "Who would eat something that looks like that!"
      The crayfish then pinches Otis's butt, causing him to fall into the river.
    • Later, a lost and hungry Milo sees a fox and wonders if he can eat it. He ends up stealing food from the fox instead.
  • Laughably Evil: The bears. Despite being... Well, freakin' bears, they keep getting outsmarted by an orange tabby and a pug. One even gets a bowling ball dropped on his head!
  • Leitmotif: The melody of Koneko Monogatari's titular theme song recurs throughout the background score.
    • In the English dub, the Robert Schumann composition "Of Foreign Lands and Peoples" is used four times through the film (the opening barn scene, Otis's egg-sitting, Milo's dream and Otis heading off to get food for his family).
  • Messy Pig: Baby pigs have terrible table manners.
  • Missed Him by That Much: Several places Otis visits are places that Milo had just left.
  • Name and Name: The movie is named after the titular pair: Milo and Otis.
  • Odd Friendship: Dogs and cats can be friends. Awww...
  • Ominous Owl: There's a scene in the treetops at nighttime where Milo talks with a horned owl with glowing eyes who pops out of nowhere. Though he is friendly, he is needless to say quite terrifying for younger children. The screech owls he warns Milo about, however, aren't quite so friendly.
  • Papa Wolf: More of a nuturing variety than a protective one, but when Otis is at his Darkest Hour, he imagines the consequences to Sandra and his puppies if he should just give up on hunting for food in the snowstorm. This gives him the Heroic Second Wind needed to outlast it and find food for his family. Also, combining with Mama Bear, for all that the seagulls were attacking Milo, they were doing so because Milo was looking to eat their eggs and young.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Ryuichi Sakamoto, from Synthpop band Yellow Magic Orchestra, composed the music for the original Japanese release.
  • Precious Puppy: Otis. Later on, he has three of his own.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack:
    • Most of the score for the version released outside of Japan consists of classical music for which the copyrights had long since elapsed.
    • In the English version, the soundtrack has numerous public domain music such as Camille Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals.
  • Punny Name: "Chatran" is basically the Japanese term for "orange tabby" with an extra "n" tacked on the end.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Wild, carefree Milo is Red; proper, responsible Otis is Blue.
  • Scenery Porn: In the gorgeous Japanese countryside.
  • Sleep Cute: Milo and Otis, Milo and the deer.
  • Sliding Scale of Animal Cast: Level 1, no humans at all. Although evidence of rural human civilization abounds in the form of farm buildings and equipment, no humans ever actually appear on screen. Director and zoologist Masanori Hata had dreamed since the early 70s of making a film starring only animals, and over the first half of the 80s finally brought that dream to life. There are rumors that a scene where Milo meets a little girl was filmed but went unused in the finished film.
  • Swamps Are Evil: Deadwood Swamp is a desolate, terrible place.
  • Tempting Fate: "Milo! Get out of there before something happens!" Right on cue, the box floats away down the river.
  • Third Wheel: Milo and Otis spend the whole movie looking for each other traveling over harsh terrain and fighting off dangerous predators, finally being reunited near the end. Only to have Milo meet up with a female cat and then the two of them unwittingly snub poor Otis.
    • The original Japanese version extends this trope further with Joyce confronting Otis (see Cats Are Mean).

Alternative Title(s): Milo And Otis