“Banjo the Woodpile Cat” is a 26-minute short about a difficult-to-talk kitten named Banjo (Sparky Marcus) who causes mischief to the point of causing damage. When he nearly kills one of his sisters, Banjo’s father (Ken Sansom) takes Banjo out to retrieve a beating switch intended for Banjo’s corporal punishment. Instead of being beaten, Banjo took to the streets and into the big city (actually Salt Lake City where Bluth lived), where he was obstructing human traffic. He ends up falling in love with a lot of cats in the city before finding a truck that will take him home. When he returned home, all was forgiven.
Like most of Bluth’s work, “Banjo” is ostensibly a fun and exciting adventure, but quickly sinks into darkness and sadness. A lot of Bluth’s films, especially in the early 1980s, emerged as dull, scary, or tragic. Even the movie “An American Tail” produced by Spielberg from 1986 is mainly about the sad feelings of the rat characters when they are separated. “Banjo” is not as much an adventure as a survival story.
The character animation in “Banjo” ranks first, and it’s certainly a much nicer scene than Disney’s fare from the 1970s. If one notices the “shaggy” visual style in the cartoon, Disney image in the 1970s, that’s because the studio used an animation technique called xerography, which allowed the reproduction of animated clips. It’s a great way to save money, but also a great way to make a movie look cheaper than it actually is. “Banjo”, like its origin story, looks like it was hand-animated over the course of four years. The story is detailed above various animation sitesas on the Los Angeles Times.
https://www.slashfilm.com/988115/watch-don-bluths-short-film-that-proved-he-could-make-the-secret-of-nimh/ Watch Don Bluth’s Short Film That Proved He Can Make NIMH’s Secrets