Every now and then, a show will come along that will make you think, “Wow, this is a great premise, but I bet it worked better in the original manga.”
Too Cute Crisis is one such show. Based on Mitsuru Kido’s manga of the same name, the story follows an alien invasion that is thwarted when the head researcher discovers how adorable Earth animals are, with the basic structure following the formula of Liza (or another alien) meeting an animal and then having a complete and total meltdown. It would very likely have made a terrific series of three-to-five-minute episodes, or even ten-to-fifteen-minute episodes, but it becomes old soon as a full-length show.
Or, at least, three-quarters of it does. By the tenth episode, the series has settled into itself and begins to believe that viewers will continue to watch even if things become less formulaic. The shift occurs when episodes stop being broken into four or five mini-segments and instead devote their whole run time to a single plot. While some things had to be established to get to this point (for example, Liza had to build some resilience to attractiveness), it may have happened sooner. While the show is never awful, it runs the danger of losing fans by taking the majority of its run to get to this point.
Despite this flaw, Too Cute Crisis portrays the joys and concerns of being a pet parent admirably. Liza had taken in an abandoned cat, Yozora, by the conclusion of episode one, and this sets the setting for her to experience something many of us are familiar with: how strange cats can be, even if you’re not an alien who has never seen one before. Yozora is an American Curl (or, at the very least, has their distinguishing folded-back ears; the ears came from a genetic mutation at first, so Yozora could be a sort of surprise Curl rather than a purebred), and Liza quickly learns that the breed is noted for its “dog-like” temperament while being entirely cat. He’s playful, clingy to his new mom, and acts like a cat who realizes he’s been rescued. Liza, for her part, is both admiring and afraid that she’ll make a mistake, an emotion that I’m sure many first-time pet parents are familiar with – and that even us vets are very familiar with. Liza’s adventures are a hyperbolic description of the fact, even down to the manner that everyone is confident that their pet is the best in the entire world, from the certainty that he’s escaped only to find that he was hidden in the apartment to the pains of trying to take the ideal picture. Liza encounters a kitten who exhibits both the dreaded zoomies and what my family refers to as “psycho hopping,” which is when a kitten stiffens their legs and bounces back and forth with their back arched. This explains why Yozora speaks significantly more than Maine Coon. Maine Coons are objectively the much more vocal breed, therefore Cat Emily stands out a little negatively. Other animals’ behavior is discussed, but cats receive the majority of the attention.
Liza’s quest to persuade her shipmates that cats aren’t wicked beasts enslaving humanity is one of the main plot threads. Because Liza was a model of wisdom and reserve before Yozora, everyone is persuaded that anything that could change her so drastically must be sinister, and many of the exchanges between Earth and the spaceship are devoted to this misunderstanding. The aliens’ facsimile of what they think a cat is is one of the show’s best visual gags, as is the mismatch between what they deem cute and Earth animals. This helps to balance off the overuse of the “aliens see animals and freak out” humor, which has been done to death. Even the opening music makes excessive use of it. Tough-as-nails soldier Shamil’s “secret” meltdowns over Yozora give the comedy new life near the conclusion, but it’s still overdone.
In terms of theme music, the ending theme is noteworthy since each episode includes images of staff and cast pets, ranging from dogs and cats to birds, bunnies, lizards, and even a handful of beetles. These are key highlights, and considerable effort is made to match the pictures to the episodes; for example, many more rabbits appear after Garmie visits a rabbit café, and the acts of episode six, with baths and finger-chomps, appear in the photos for that episode. It’s a pleasant addition to the show as a whole, and while not all of the images are flawless, they’re all enjoyable to look at.
That isn’t always true of the show, which is often boring. There are several alien cultures, which is wonderfully done, but the usage of thick black edges for all of the characters is a bit annoying, and anything that isn’t a cute animal feels thrown up on the screen. It’s not horrible, but it’s also not that intriguing, but it should be noted that extraterrestrial notions about cats are always quite nicely depicted. (The tentacle paw pads in episode eleven are quite impressive.) While the usage of cat puns in the theme songs is amusing, what strikes out is the representation of feline behavior rather than anything else. Given the show’s general concept, this is to be expected.
Too Cute Crisis takes a long time to come into its own. It’s tedious to watch it as a binge, but each episode has excellent moments, whether it’s realizing that saying Liza was “destined” to meet Yozora means he was destined to be abandoned/traumatized, the terrors of the quest for social media likes, or the heartbreak of nature documentaries. It might have worked better as shorts, emphasizing these strengths. Still, if you can get beyond the mediocre visuals and shaky start, Too Cute Crisis affirms what many of us already believe: pets have the potential to save the world.