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When his pet dog, Papadoll, goes missing, Toriyasu is taken to the magical world of Banipal Witt, where both he and his sister, Miko, are transformed into cats. Do-do, the brightest pupil of high-priest Sandada, has been turned to the dark side and now serves Bubulina, the cursed witch-queen whose touch turns people into balloons. The pair have kidnapped Papadoll and turned him into a monster that menaces the whole kingdom, and Toriyasu must stop him before sunrise, when he too will be transformed. Earthlings (including dogs) can only be in Banipal Witt for two days before the sunlight will turn them into monsters.Toriyasu and Miko are there for two days before Sandada completes his magical pill that will put Papadoll to sleep, so that Toryasu can attach his chain to his collar, and hence restore him to normality. Returning Papadoll to canine form, the children use the magic cat's-paw talisman to restore normalcy and are rushed home before sunrise on the third day by the feline trio that brought them to Banipal Witt in the first place. Only three minutes have passed on Earth, but as the kids head off for a normal day at school, they are accosted once more by cats from Banipal Witt in search of help with another crisis.
Featuring a 3D-rendered fondant world spinning in the light of a gold paper sun, marshmallow skies, balloon cats, giant floating mice, and even a girl with kaleidoscope eyes in Bubulina, Catnapped! is a hallucinogenic mixture of Yellow Submarine and Alice in Wonderland that ultimately fails through its dispassionate precision. The candy-striped design and childish worldview seem almost calculatedly endearing, but no amount of brainstorming and focus groups can make up for true magic such as Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro, which Catnapped! would very much like to be. For its U.S. release, Pioneer preferred to play up the writers' connections to Akira and Armitage III, a sure sign that they doubted its stand-alone status within the children's cartoon market.