By Katlynn Rossignol
Travel to a friendly little island where a “young old lady” named Bee lives. After being fired from her last job, Bee wishes she had a pet cat, leading to the magical introduction of Puppycat. Turns out it costs money to care for a new pet, so it’s a good thing Puppycat is an employee of Temp Space, an interstellar employment agency. Together, Bee and Puppycat do temp jobs across the universe while avoiding mysterious beings fighting to get their hands on them.
Art and Storytelling:
Bee and Puppycat is a beautifully stylized show. The color palettes are beautiful and give everything a dreamy, ethereal look. The style of the artwork is reminiscent of “Adventure Time” and anime, and the characters often break the model to emphasize their emotions. The sound design consists mostly of soft piano music, chimes and even moments of silence, along with the signature sound effects and voice acting. The voice actors do an excellent job bringing the characters to life, including the unusual voice actor for Puppycat. Throughout the show, Puppycat is voiced by an AI vocaloid named Oliver and only speaks gibberish, using subtitles to show what he’s saying.
The story of Bee and Puppycat is told in a unique style with a life story in episodic format filled with deep lore that incorporates elements of sci-fi and magical girl adventures. The show challenges you to accept everything that happens as the “norm” of the established world and to observe events without taking them too literally. At the same time, almost every character has an endearing, serious, or tragic backstory. The humor is often random and absurd, which goes well with the bizarre planets they visit (e.g., Toilet Planet, Clown Planet, and Cat Head Planet, to name a few). There are occasional moments of light profanity, but it’s rare and casual in nature.
While the show definitely has its plot, it’s much more focused on the characters. Its premise might be that Bee and Puppycat are temp workers, but the temp work is often used as a way to solve a problem in their ordinary lives. Not only will they work daily, they’ll occasionally do side jobs when they need something, like money or to be teleported home. These side jobs usually reflect the situation or relationship problem between characters and challenge them to overcome it.
It’s clear that the writers of “Bee and Puppycat” have something to say about passions, work and identity. Many characters on the show struggle with their identities, be it in their past or future. The story creates backstories for its characters, but the characters are not defined by their past. Characters also choose whether following their passions or having a steady job is the right course for their lives, and the show doesn’t choose sides. Regardless of whether they chose their profession or their passions, both have been shown to have their benefits and their consequences.
It’s important to talk about the production history of “Bee and Puppycat” as it took a long time to release on Netflix. The show began in 2013 with a two-part pilot directed by Natasha Allegri and released on Frederator Studios’ YouTube channel, Cartoon Hangover. After the pilot was completed, the show ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to produce the first season, which is now available to watch in full on Youtube.
During production of the second season, titled “Bee and Puppycat: Lazy in Space,” the show was picked up by Netflix. After Netflix took over the show, the first season was remade within the first 3 episodes, then the rest of the new season was added. The first season reboot also changed some of the original plot points and added some adventures from the Bee and Puppycat comics. Overall, this pushed the season 2 release date from 2019 to 2022. This recap covers the events of the Netflix version of the series, including the reboot of season 1 and the new season 2.
A beautiful visual delight, Bee and Puppycat respects its audience by letting the story show its themes rather than saying them out loud in each episode. The soothing atmosphere was a treat to watch and relax in, and the wacky hijinks add a unique flavor to each episode.
As someone used to western children’s animation, I found that the more mature approach to the themes in Bee and Puppycat allowed for a more thoughtful viewing experience. The show never felt the need to explain itself to audiences, instead inviting them to sit back and enjoy the ride of what came next. I loved the flashbacks and the lore that goes into the episodes and I’m confident the show will return for another season.
I would recommend Bee and Puppycat to anyone who enjoys adventurous adventures, quirky characters and soothing atmospheres.
Bee and Puppycat is available now on Netflix.
Katlynn Rossignol is a freshman communications major and an A&E writer for Cedars. She loves 2D animation, superhero movies and the color pink.
Cover image courtesy of Animation World Network