Billy the Cat
Billy the Cat is the title of a Franco-Belgian comic strip by the Belgian Stéphane Colman and Stephen Desberg, as well as an animated cartoon adaptation, amongst others. Both comic and cartoon deal with the everyday and secret lives of urban animals, although they take very different approaches to it, and while the characters are largely the same in both versions, the stories and situations are very different.
Billy starts out as a normal human schoolboy who delights in mean-spirited pranks and often bullies animals. However, early in the first comic album, he is killed when he carelessly runs out in the street and is hit by a car. In the afterlife, he is told that he's done so many misdeeds in his life that his chances of getting into Heaven are slim, but he can get a second chance. Thus, he is sent back to Earth; now in the form of a young cat, but still able to remember his former life as a boy.
The comic follows Billy as he struggles to deal with life as a cat, making many new friends (and a few enemies) among the many animals he meets—most importantly Mr. Hubert, a kind-hearted but blustery white alley cat who lives in a Cadillac in the junkyard, and who takes it upon himself to look after the new kitten—though very few of them (with the possible exception of Pirmin the circus bear) ever sincerely believe his claims that he is "really" a human boy.
Compared to the cartoon series, the comic is slightly darker and more dramatic in spirit, with slightly grander adventures, bigger dangers and a more linear storyline, though it does remain largely comedic, with various eccentric characters and humorous dialogue.
The cartoon takes a different approach to the scenario: Here, Billy's transformation to a cat is caused by an angry magician who decides to teach the boy a lesson after seeing Billy bullying a cat. In order to keep his family from worrying, the magician also uses his magic to make his cat assume Billy's own form and live with his family.
The cartoon takes on a much lighter tone than the comic, largely thanks to the differing set-up, and is also much more episodic. When the series ends, Billy the Cat remains a cat and shows little to no interest to becoming human again, although this is not said explicitly by any character.
The cartoon series went from 1996 to 2001 and ran for three seasons. It was produced by Les Films du Triangle, La Fabrique, NOA (Network of Animation), Western International Communications, Sofidoc SA and Cologne Cartoon (which now became JEP Animation) in association with Siriol Productions (which now became Calon) and EVA Entertainment.
The music was composed, performed and produced by John Mitchell, David Iris and Tom Keenlyside at Anitunes Music. The main theme song was sung by John Mitchell and Tanya Hancheroff.