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Cat Shit One is a three volume manga series written and illustrated by Motofumi Kobayashi. Published in Japan in 1998 by Softbank Publishing, when the manga was brought to the US, it was renamed Apocalypse Meow to parody the title of the film Apocalypse Now, which also took place during The Vietnam War.
The original manga follows three American soldiers in the Vietnam War named Bota, Perky and Rats. All three are in the recon team called Cat Shit One. Each mission (or chapter) shows the daily activities of the reconnaissance group in Vietnam. There are sections of the manga which give brief history and truths behind the war, such as the types of weapons used by different countries and the activities of forces in the war.
In Cat Shit One '80, the story continue to follow the three main protagonists as they became involved in various Low intensity conflicts in the 1980s. Perky, now a member of the elite Delta Force, was attached to the Special Air Service and was involved in various SAS operations while Rats and Bota were invovled with the US operation in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion.
And in case you haven't noticed by now, they're rabbits.
Cat Shit One / Apocalypse Meow provides examples of:
- A Day in the Limelight: Some chapters center on specific characters, including a former NVA member requesting political asylum.
- All CGI Cartoon: The Animated version looks to be this.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: A country or ethnic group is normally depicted as a specific animal. They are either a play on words, a reference to WW 2, or based on stereotypes.
- Rabbits represent the US (U.S.A. G.I.="Usagi", "Rabbit" in Japanese)
- It's also appropriate in that while they may appear amusing at first glance, any Aussie can tell you that rabbits are viciously destructive when introduced into a foreign country's environment.
- Cats represent the Vietnamese
- Pandas and Bears represent China and Russia respectively.
- Rats and Kangaroos represent the UK and Australia.
- The French are Pigs, the Germans are Foxes, the Argentinian are Cows, Koreans are Dogs, Japanese are Monkeys and the Middle East as a whole are represented as Sheep, Camels and Goats.
- In the animation, all Middle Easterners - including the 'Canary' that is being rescued - are camels.
- Rabbits represent the US (U.S.A. G.I.="Usagi", "Rabbit" in Japanese)
- Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving: The Animated episode ends with Packy berating Botaski for going against orders and coming back to help him - then says he'll buy Bota a beer for saving his life.
- Artifact Title: The Animated version is still called Cat Shit One despite the recon group not fighting any cats (Vietnamese) since they're in the Gulf War.
- Badass Adorable: Especially in the animated series - Packy manages to look downright huggable even while plunging a knife into someone's neck.
- Badass Native: Arguably, Chico, since he's Vietnamese and part of one of many tribes involved in the conflict, and he's actually the leader of one.
- Big Damn Heroes: Rats and Chico pull this one when they rescue Botaski and Perky.
- Butt Monkey: Sgt. Nakamura. Not played for laughs.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The CIA spook.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: While it was expected of Chico not to appear in the animated series since the conflict happens in the middle east and he's Vietnamese, it took several fans of the series by surprise that Rats was nowhere to be seen in the new series.
- Cold War
- Composite Character: Arguably, Botaski in the animated version, who is basically 95% Botaski and 5% Rats.
- Deus Ex Nukina: Played with and then Subverted, hard.
- Eagle Land
- Everything Is Better With Monkeys: Averted.
- Which is not surprising, since "monkey" is an ethnic slur for the Japanese.
- Also, should be noted that North Vietnam broke the ceasefire on the Year of the Monkey.
- Executive Meddling: It was the editors idea to spice things up when Kobayashi's previous series Dog Shit One with normal style wasn't going anywhere.
- Fatal Family Photo: Subverted - Major Anderson is already dying of his injuries when he hands Perky a photo of his wife and kids.
- Government Conspiracy: The "Monkey Army" story involves the JSDF secretly deploying combat troops in Vietnam, in violation of Japan's post-WWII disarmament agreements. When working on this chapter, Kobayashi allegedly interviewed a member of the unit the Monkeys were based on, who remained anonymous out of fear that he would be assassinated for saying too much.
- Gratuitous English: "You copy?"
- Gunship Rescue: In the animated series, the Mi-24 gunship, callsign Angel One, comes in to rescue our heroes Perky and Botasky just when they thought they are completely surrounded. To quote Perky's words:
Perky: Well... that's one hell of an angel who came to help us.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Played straight, as well as lampshaded by Perky when visiting a strip club:
Perky: Why're they wearing panties? We're always... naked from the waist down.
- Kaiju Defense Force: The JSDF joines the CSO Recon Unit for training purposes. Things don't go well.
- Killer Rabbit: The American forces.
- Market-Based Title: Apocalypse Meow.
- Noble Bigot: Well, this is the late '60s/early '70s...still, Bota makes it a habit to tell us that he hates Asians. Same time, he seems to not know that Sony and Honda are Japanese products.
- One-Man Army: Perky, Bota, Rats and Chico all get their One-Man Army moments.
- Petting Zoo People: And how...
- Politically-Correct History / Hollywood History: Pretty much adverted.
- Power Trio: Perkings, Rats and Botaski.
- Red Scare: One of the main forces driving the conflict in the original series.
- Sixth Ranger: Chico, who becomes vital to the team as the series progresses.
- Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan
- Shout-Out: To Metal Gear Solid in the opening scenes of the animated version.
- Shown Their Work: From the weapons to the political forces behind the Vietnam conflict -and- the sentiment of the US Civilian population towards the conflict, this series is eerily accurate.
- Noteworthy for its footnotes for extra depth.
- In fact, the only reason the series uses anthropomorphs for its characters is because of Executive Meddling: The publisher thought a straight Vietnam story wouldn't sell. Then again, the series probably wouldn't have had a successful anime series if it were played straight...
- Spell My Name with an "S": Perkins' nickname tends to switch between Packy or Perky depending on the translation.
- Spy From Weights and Measures: CSO's CIA contact spends most of his time at french resort as a tourist.
- Take Me to Your Leader: Played with. With Perky and Bota captured by the VC and Chico MIA after an ambush, Rats goes on a solo rescue mission only to be captured by a tribal group. He is taken to one of the tribal leaders only to find out its Chico, who managed to escape the skirmish and has been nursing his injuries since.
- Which serves as a one more Shown Their Work moments, because tribal groups and their influence on the conflict is still almost universally overlooked. Most works featuring Vietnam War won't even mention tribals.
- The Vietnam War
- What Do You Mean It's Not for Kids?: Cute rabbits that are killing machines.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Towards the end of the first animated episode, the hostage and informant that the two heroes spent the episode risking their lives to rescue are left behind at a safe spot while Bota runs back in to rescue Perky. They get out and are picked up by a military helicopter...and never seem to go back to pick up the two they rescued. Perhaps they went back after the episode ended, but it still seemed strange that the targets of the rescue seemed forgotten.
- X Meets Y: Maus meets Apocalypse Now. Others have likened it to Watership Down meets Metal Gear.
- Qurac: The animated series takes place in a generic, unnamed middle-eastern country that appears to be largely inhabited by AK-toting terrorists.