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The Summer 2024 Anime Preview Guide
Red Cat Ramen

How would you rate episode 1 of
Red Cat Ramen ?
Community score: 3.4

What is this?


Tamako, a human, arrives at Ramen Akaneko, run solely by cats, for a part-time job interview. Her honesty about being a dog person gets her hired, and she becomes the caretaker of the cats at the restaurant. A story of both cat and human relationships, told through the interactions with both feline staff and customers Enjoy your extra-large serving of heartwarming and endearing moments at Ramen Akaneko.

Red Cat Ramen is based on the manga series by ANGYAMAN. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Thursdays.

How was the first episode?

Rebecca Silverman

This is one of those shows I feel mean for rating so low. It's just so good-natured that it hurts – downtrodden human Tamako applies for a job at a ramen shop run by cats (and a tiger), is soothed by how kind they are to her, and spends most of the episode brushing kitties. It's almost too wholesome…and I am 90% certain that if this had been a five-minute short, or even a half-length episode, I would have enjoyed it much more.

But really, how much time can you spend watching someone else brush a cat? I love cats, I have six of my own (three of whom are orange, or “red”), but the joy of brushing them comes not from watching my sister do it, but from the tactile sensations and emotional bonding of doing it myself. I can absolutely relate to how it calms both the kitties and Tamako down, and it makes a lot of sense that they're able to have good conversations while doing it. It just isn't terribly interesting from the other side of the screen. I do, however, very much appreciate how prickly white cat Hana instructs Tamako about which brushes and combs she prefers. Grooming is a pretty personal activity, and she's within her rights to want Tamako to do things her way. Even her cold attitude makes sense in that context…and in the fact that she's a white cat. If you're to believe the theory that a cat's fur color influences their personality, white cats are generally held to be aloof – and Wonderful Precure!'s Yuki certainly helps make the case for that being a common perception. (White cats often have hearing problems, which probably contributes to the idea that they're stand-offish.)

On the downside, this doesn't look very good. The way the cats walk and move in generally is a little too close to the uncanny valley for my liking, and even hissing faces don't show quite enough expression. The voice actors are doing a great job, especially Krishna the tiger's, but as a full-length episode, this misses the mark. There's just not enough content to justify the runtime, and that makes me very sad.

Nicholas Dupree

Have you ever imagined what it would be like if cats did human things, like run a restaurant? If so, you have almost certainly come up with more interesting, memorable, and funny ideas than anything in this episode. Across a stultifying 22 minutes, our human heroine discovers the incredibly dull eccentricities of working at a business run by anthropomorphic cats, such as: brushing them to keep hair out of the food, cleaning up cat toys and treats, brushing them some more, and filling out employment paperwork. Riveting stuff, I know.

It's weird, honestly. Work comedies with a supernatural twist are a dime a dozen, and just about all of those understand that you need to sell your hook hard and fast. Whether your anime is about aliens selling insurance or fantasy creatures making donuts, you have to come up with weird and humorous things that might happen when crossing unusual characters with grounded work problems. Yet this episode seems to run out of ideas immediately, and never manages to mine “cats running a restaurant” for any real gags. The closest thing to a gag is that one of the employees is a bashful tiger, but even that is disconnected from the rest of the setup.

So alright, if we're not taking the low-hanging fruit, what are the jokes in this show? Well, our main character, Tamako, is kind of shy, and one of the cats doesn't like her initially, and gets picky about how she wants to be brushed. There's a scene where a customer yells about cat hair in his food. When Tamako cleans up the office she finds cat treats and toys stashed away. That's it. As a cat lover, I was at least hoping for some observational humor about how cats might behave in a professional setting – maybe a gag about taking too many naps on the clock, or unloading a box of supplies and then sitting in it. Those aren't amazing jokes, but they're at least the kind of humor somebody familiar with cats would recognize and maybe relate to.

Instead there's just...nothing. Just stiffly animated CG cats walking on their hind legs and serving food. If that singular image is enough to amuse you for half an hour, then I guess this is worth checking out. Otherwise, there are countless cat and work comedy anime that offer more than this bland fusion cuisine.

James Beckett

Watching the premiere of Ramen Akaneko, I was forced to ask myself two questions:

1. “Why on Earth is this a full-length series and not a 10-minute long short?”

2. “Why does everyone look like…that?”(By “that”, I mean “Like off-brand Shrinky Dinks that got left in the oven too long.”)

It's a real shame, too, because there's just so much potential in Ramen Akaneko. It's about a ramen restaurant run by a gang of adorable talking cats (and one skittish tiger)! That premise should be a slam-dunk success without even trying. And yet, here we are, with Ramen Akaneko being very far from a slam-dunk.

Again, the biggest issue for me with this show is that it takes a decent setup and stretches it unbearably thin in order to get to a full 22 minutes. When our main character Tamako shows up at the Red Cat Ramen to find a job, you'd think that the show would waste no time using her outsider's perspective to show off all of the adorable little odd jobs and cooky gadgets that would make this joint so successful despite being run by two-foot-tall cats. Instead, the poor girl is stuck sitting in the back room and brushing every individual cat for most of the episode, and it's just so boring. Where are all of the hilarious puns and sight gags? Where are all of the interesting cat-themed recipes that put a spin on the classic ramen? The closest we get to something that's kind of fun is when a yakuza-type tries to harass the cats over there being fur in his soup, only to be confronted by the sign that explains how, obviously, if you come to a restaurant run by cats, you might end up with some fur in your soup. That one somewhat amusing joke is not enough to fuel a full half-hour episode.

Sadly, even if the script did get punched up, I'm afraid that Ramen Akaneko would still end up falling short on account of how ugly it is to look at. The colors are washed out, the backgrounds are plain, and the direction is lifeless. Worst of all, all of the characters have that issue that comes along with sloppy linework and inconsistent modeling that makes them all look like they're melting a little. I wasn't being hyperbolic with that Shrinky Dink line, up there! In short, this one is hard pass, for me. I'll go spend some time with my real and very adorable cats instead, thank you very much.

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