Neko Atsume: From Your Phone To The Big Screen In 2017
by Michelle "Ms. Geek" Klein-Hass
Neko Atsume became the phone casual gaming flavor of the month in Japan in 2014. Before Pokemon GO, it became an obsession to catch all the cats, or more accurately, attract the cats to your yard. A year later, Neko Atsume was localized for English-language audiences, and the obsession spread globally.
Is Neko Atsume still relevant? The beauty of the game is that it doesn't require a great deal of attention. Unlike similar but more demanding games from another time like Tamagotchi and Digimon, you don't have to press buttons to keep the cats alive. You don't even need to clean their kitty litter boxes or groom them or play with them. You just leave food and toys for them and check the yard for who shows up.
You would hardly think that a game like that would lend itself to a cinematic treatment, but AMG Entertainment (Deadman Wonderland, Fortune Arterial) and MediAnd have determined that yes, there is still potential for a cool live-action comedy film based on the game. And so, they have announced that a Neko Atsume movie is now in production.
What has the potential of elevating this film to something beyond just cashing in on a waning casual game fad is the star chosen to carry the film: Atsushi Ito. Japanese Dorama fans will recognize the name immediately...he's the guy who played the geeky, infatuated, shy guy in the TV version of Densha Otoko.
Ito stars as Katsu Sakamoto, a writer whose fame began early, winning a young writer's contest. He's been successful since, but lately he's been plagued with writer's block. So he picks up and moves to a country house in hopes of reconnecting with his muse.
He finds his muse, or muses, as the case may be, in the neighborhood cats that visit his home's yard.
Will Ito-san's physical humor and vulnerability from the Densha Otoko series be a part of this film? Hopefully, as Ito's performance in the series really elevated it beyond the formulaic rom-com it could have been. The film will be directed by Masatoshi Kurakata, known for his work as the director of Crossroads, (Ai o Tsutaerare nai Otona-Tachi e) and written by Yūji Nagamori.
Unfortunately, most Japanese films still tend to be for Japanese consumption only. However, the international popularity of the game might mean that this film might be subbed and released in other countries. Here's hoping!