Nekopara – Ep. 1 (First Impressions)

I actually first heard of Nekopara before the visual novels come out, when they only existed as a series of R-18 doujins done by the creator, Sayori. Not much to say about those. Sayori’s art is really good but they don’t have much of a plot going on apart from the “plot”. I don’t know if the visual novels fare much better. They’ve been on my Steam wishlist for years and maybe my college laptops could’ve run them but they weren’t priority games for me. Clearly, they must’ve done well though or else we wouldn’t be seeing an anime adaptation for it.

The conceit of Nekopara is pretty much that cat girls are real. In fact, their existence supplants that of normal cats entirely. They still act like cats normally would and normal humans can still adopt them as pets. Some questions do arise. Like, do the cat girls age at the same rate as cats or human beings? If you walk into a pet store or an animal shelter in this world, would you legitimately see these human-looking cats there? Where are any of the male cats?

One thing you’ll have to look the other way over in order to enjoy the show is seeing such humanoid animals being treated as, well, animals. All the cat girls introduced so far look very content with their lives but it is weird seeing them live under and serve a human master when they themselves look very similar to humans. They can’t even act independently from their master unless they get a license to do so, such agency being identified via the bells they wear around their necks. I doubt the show is making any kind of statement here but it does baffle me in the same way Pluto is Mickey’s pet or Pal is Arthur’s.

Nevertheless, I do find the show pretty charming, more than I thought actually. A lot of that owes to the art direction. The visual quality is probably not on par with the visual novels’ but Sayori’s knack for character designs is still evident. Every one of those cat girls looks adorable, especially our two main cats, Chocola (Yuki Yagi) and Vanilla (Iori Saeki). I also enjoy the attention to the catlike mannerisms these characters exhibit from curling their hands to look like paws to hissing at each other when they get angry to walking on rooftops when traversing the streets. There is notably some fan service in this show but that can kind of be whatever to me and so far, it’s largely been showing some cleavage here and flaunting someone’s short shorts there. You’d think the show would be super ecchi given the franchise’s past (boy would I know) but it surprisingly has yet to lean in that direction.

Most likely, Nekopara won’t be a terribly ambitious narrative. Still, I find some enjoyment for what it is so unless the watch list is too crowded this season (spoilers: it really isn’t), I can see myself sticking around with this one.

Thanks for reading!

Watch Nekopara on Funimation

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