The old adage goes, “Never judge a book by its cover.” And Lily C.A.T. is the shining example of why you should heed those words. But by god, it is an awful cover. Just by the poster, can you tell this movie is a space thriller in the year 2264 which brilliantly contemplates the drawbacks of space travel? No? All I’m saying is promotional materials matter, and whoever was in charge of Lily C.A.T.’s did the movie a great disservice.
Now while I’m going to do nothing but praise this movie, the initial plot is nothing we haven’t seen before. A huge corporation is sending a crew to investigate possible habitual planets. The crew goes into hibernation for their space voyage and something goes wrong while they’re asleep. Luckily, that’s where the predictability ends.
Upon waking up, the captain receives a message informing him two people snuck on board who shouldn’t be there. And amazingly, the crew handles this situation in a way that makes f*cking sense. An investigation begins where each member of the crew is cross-checked against their background information. There isn’t a giant witch hunt. Nobody goes overboard or overreacts. It’s refreshing, to say the least.
Like I’m sure you can surmise for yourself, this is a space movie from the 1980s. There’s a bit of borrowing from classics like Alien, 2001, and The Thing. Crew members begin turning up dead or missing and the ship begins to ignore commands. Some dumb tropes happen (Seriously, why would you ever investigate a weird noise?) As the numbers dwindle, the two stowaways are discovered. And that’s when Lily C.A.T. becomes its own movie and dives into some deep thinking. I won’t spoil it here, but it made me pause the movie and reflect on it myself. It did nothing but enhance my appreciation for this film. And believe me, there’s a good amount to appreciate.
The monster in Lily C.A.T. is horrid to look at but in the best way. The design is haunting, foreign, and is a perfect example of why I love animation. Anime is the only platform where this monster could come to life—even with all the advancements we have now—and this movie is from 1987. Its design and what it does to the crew will be as effective 100 years from now as it is today.
In all, Lily C.A.T. is a great, quick watch. Seriously, the movie doesn’t even reach 65 minutes (not even the length of three anime episodes). There is a number of bad anime from the 80’s, but Lily C.A.T. is not one of them. Luckily for all of us, Viewster will let us watch an unappreciated classic like Lily C.A.T. for free. Don’t pass up this opportunity and watch it here.
Originally published June 27th, 2017.