Having a pet or two, or even more in some cases, is a great way of making life that bit brighter. Thanks to the joy that our pets bring us wherever we are in the world, we always have a companion to help keep stress at bay.
While some people are pet owners, not everyone is lucky enough to be able to enjoy this pleasure. This could be due to health issues, a fear of animals or not having permission from the landlord, the latter being one of the most common reasons that people don’t own pets in Japan, which I’m sure many of you are aware of.
But don’t lose hope pet fans! There’s always a way to make things work. You can fake the pet owning experience through your phone and, very soon, even on the big screen.
One of the easiest solutions if you’re unable to own a real pet is to get your hands on a virtual pet instead! Virtual pets have been around for a long time, not only in Japan but around the globe with each product providing a different experience for gamers. Handheld virtual toys were the popular choice a decade ago which gradually improved when virtual pets appeared on our Game Boys. Nowadays, these virtual pets have reached our smartphones, and applications have proven to be the top choice.
The most popular virtual pets may be cats and dogs, but that doesn’t mean you’re restricted to these two animals with the option to own monsters on your favorite games including Pokemon, Digimon or Tamagotchi. One game that has really made its name in Japan for being super cute is Neko Atsume (ねこあつめ), an application for playing with virtual cats.
Neko Atsume, translated to Kitty Collector, is a popular mobile app from game creator Hit Point. It was first launched in Japan in October 2014 and is currently running on both Android and iOS. The app is available in both Japanese and English.
Even after two years of being on the market, Neko Atsume remains a popular app to have on your smartphone, especially if you’re happy to spend some time hanging out with your virtual pets. Collect cats and learn to keep them happy so you can play with them to your heart’s content. I would have never thought that this kind of game would become so popular when the only “goal” of the game is to care for stray cats. But, to my surprise, I still frequently see people playing Neko Atsume on the train while commuting to work.
The mobile game looks set to continue as it keeps bringing out updates that improve the virtual pet experience. The last update to the game was just last month, version 1.8.0, in which new toys, a remodel and two new types of common cats were added.
Whether you’re new to the Neko Atsume game or you’re already a big fan, there’s something else is in store for you that I think you’ll love: A Neko Atsume live action movie. Adapted from the addictive game, the movie is set to be released soon and is expected to be cat-cuteness overload.
The Neko Atsume movie has been greenlit and should hit the screens in Japan on April 8th 2017. And what name could suit it any better than Neko Atsume no Ie (ねこあつめの家), Kitty Collector’s House?!
The director of the movie is Kurakata Masatoshi (蔵方政俊) who stated that he wanted to make a simple movie that gives the spectators that warm, fuzzy feeling. Masatoshi, the production team and the cast of the movie have put their hearts into providing this pet lovers’ experience for all the Neko Atsume fans.
The plot of Neko Atsume no Ie focuses on the protagonist, Sakumoto Katsu (佐久本勝), who is played by Japanese television and film actor, Ito Atsushi (伊藤淳史).
Sakumoto is a young author that is struggling with writer’s block, shadowed by the success of his own past. Unable to bring back his creative side, he decides to move to a new house where he finds a stray cat in the garden. In an attempt to befriend the stray cat, he leaves out food overnight and the story continues from there.
The actor playing the protagonist is sure to have a big impact on the success of the movie. Ito Atsushi often plays the role of a geeky, otaku character but I believe he will make a fine protagonist for Neko Atsume no Ie given his previous performances.
Ito Atsushi has starred in a number of drama series and films such as Biri Gyaru (ビリギャル; Flying Colors), General Rouge no Gaisen (ジェネラル・ルージュの凱旋), and Densha Otoko (電車男) just to name a few.
On the official Neko Atsume no Ie website, Ito says that shooting with the cats gave him a lot of energy and interacting with them on stage acted as a therapeutic healing experience.
Neko Atsume is certainly the right choice for you if you love games and cats but aren’t fortunate enough to own a real one. It might not compare to a real cat but if you’re looking for something fun without the hassle you should check it out.
Since the game’s main aim is to enjoy looking after cats, the more in-depth story of the movie is something to look forward to. Now, make sure to keep collecting those cats on your phones and if you manage to make it to Japan in time for the release of Neko Atsume No Ie, there’s another thing to add to your list of things to do!
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