Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Oruorane the Cat Player

Oruorane the Cat Player (Neko Hibi no Oruorane), a 1992 OVA, is a charming sleeper that has languished in totally undeserved obscurity. Thanks to Orphan and Piyo Piyo Productions, it is now available to a wider audience.

The story is set in a vaguely European city in the mountains. The protagonist is an unnamed young man (he's only identified as "boku" - me - in the credits), an unemployed cellist. His orchestra has just disbanded. Without a job or prospects, he wanders the streets, intending to get drunk. He stumbles across a cat that is fond of alcohol and the cat's mysterious owner, an old man (a wizard, possibly) named Oruorane. The old man has taught his three cats - Inruinedo, Malet, and Shofuren - not only to drink but to sing in beautiful harmony. The young man learns to "play" a cat, and the two humans and three cats hold a concert on Christmas Eve. Then, Oruorane and his cats go their way, and the young man returns to his hometown, presumably to start over.

The charm of the show lies not in its plot, which is admittedly slight, but in its storytelling. The visuals are luminous (the animation is by J.C. Staff), and the cat concert is a riot of color and music. We never learn very much about the young man or Oruorane, and the mystery of the singing cats is never explained. However, this show doesn't require explanations; it just needs to be experienced.

The voice cast includes veterans and stars.
  • Seki Toshihiko (the protagonist) should be quite familiar to readers of this blog. He appeared as Riki in Ai no Kusabi, the hero Seitarou in Hoshi Neko Full House, Miroku in Yuukan Club, Chuuta in Satsujin Kippu wa Heart-iro, and the fighter Nagase Jun in Akai Hayate, all Orphan releases. He also played Sanzo in all the Saiyuuki TV series and the title roles in Alexander (Reign the Conqueror) and Kaiketsu Zorro. 
  • Ginga Banjou (Oruorane) is a veteran voice actor. He played the title role in 80 Days Around the World with Willy Fog, Baloo in The Jungle Book, and Tohtsuki chairman Nakiri Senzaemon in the Shokugeki no Souma series. He also appeared in the two What's Michael? OVAs, both Orphan releases.
  • Hayashibara Megumi (Iruinedo) was arguably the most famous seiyuu of the 1990s. She played other feline roles, including the title role in the All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku franchise and the title role in the Hello Kitty properties. However, she's much better known for her star turns as Faye Valentine in Cowboy Bebop, Ayanami Rei in Evangelion, Rune Balot in the Mardock Scramble movies, Rebecca in One Piece, Lina in the Slayers franchise, female Ranma in Ranma 1/2, and Miyokichi in Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju.
  • Orikasa Ai (Malet) made her debut in Shoukoushi Cedie. She also played Toryune in Al Caral no Isan and Sara in Eien no Filena, both Orphan releases, Seguchi Touma (the record company president) in Gravitation, Quatre in Gundam Wing, and Ryouko in the Tenchi Muyo franchise.
  • Naka Hiroshi (Shifuren) has mostly had featured roles; his most recent was as Tada's grandfather in Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinoi.
Oruorane is based on a manga by Yumemakura Baku. He's probably best known for the manga Kurozuka. He also wrote the Chimera and Amon Saga mangas, as well as the screenplay for Boku wa Son Gokuu, an Orphan release. The OVA was directed by Nishikubo Mizuro. He also directed Miyuki and Giovanni's Island, as well as Purple Eyes in the Dark, an Orphan release. The background music is appropriate and evocative. The songs are in English.

Iri got the ball rolling by buying the laserdisc of Oruorane at a Japanese auction. He sent it, via Skr, to Erik of Piyo Piyo productions, who encoded it. Moho Kareshi did the initial translation. laalg translation checked. ninjacat - er, ninjacloud - timed. I edited and typeset (nothing difficult). Nemesis and Iri did QC.

I'll leave the final word to Erik: "This anime is a thing of beauty and wonder, and I cannot recommend it enough. It is short and to the point, wasting no time and not wearing out its welcome." So what are you waiting for? Run, don't walk, to get Oruorane the Cat Player from the usual torrent sites, or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on


  1. Just one minor correction. The main character doesn't have a name. The credits just list him as "boku" (me).

    1. Thanks, winston, fixed. I misread "boku" as "baku".

  2. Thanks for this! As a cat lover, it's an instant watch for me.

  3. I watched this with my 9 year old daughter; she LOVED it; as did I. Many thanks!