This is my first review, but hopefully it is of some use to the community here.
Story: The Cat Returns is a side story to the Studio Ghibli film, "Whisper of the Heart'. In essence, it is a separate story within a story, which makes the concept quite clever. It brings back old characters from the original showing, into a plot that has a similar atmosphere to The Nutcracker or Alice in Wonderland. It is a fantasy, in a which a shy girl is carried off into another land, and in the process learns more about herself. The moral behind the story is a touching
one, and it is delivered well. Perhaps the only drawback that someone might find, is that it all ends too happily [or that the story is too predictable].
Art: The art was decent, considering it came from a studio that is well known for its high quality animation. Yet I saw the film in a site where the movie had slightly lower quality then what might be seen on a dvd or television screen. There are some scenes in which the art is commendable. This includes anatomy of the animals, and the city scenes. Some scenes were very well detailed, although the color at times wasn't as vibrant as it could be. [This could simply be a style presented in the film]. It can't compare to some of the more vibrant shows of today, but it is still well done.
Sound: The sound was decent, although it could have been better. If there were any songs, they were not strong or memorable. It was straight forward sound that was good enough to deliver the show. The voice actor for the main character did a good job, making Haru [the girl] quite comical at times. Audio was not the strongest area in this film, but it was not bad.
Character: The character's personalities were probably typical for a story such as this one. Yet there are many aspects that they portray in the film in order to help the story flow. There is also character development within the main character, Haru, although the change was rather sudden and short-lived. It still makes it all fit together nicely in the end. The characters themselves are not as strong as the story or the enjoyment, but they are quite comical.
Enjoyment: In my opinion, this is the strongest point of the film. There will always be a moment in which something ironic, or humorous occurs. They try their best to make the audience laugh. If it isn't the witty or silly remarks made by the characters, then it is the very actions within the plot itself. I enjoyed the film very much, and haven't felt so light-hearted in a while.
Overall, The Cat Returns, is a comical and sweet tale. It isn't something meant to be taken seriously. It is an odd, wacky fantasy with jokes and general mischief at every corner. I feel that it is a must see for any Studio Ghibli fan. Yet even if you are unfamiliar with the other works in Studio Ghibli, I feel that this story will still leave you with a nice (if not wacky) impression.
There are a group of fans who believe that Ghibli can do no wrong. Yet even the studio who gave us classics such as Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Princess Mononoke, Castle in the Sky, and Spirited Away, are capable of turning out a second-class effort. The Cat Returns, a curious entry to the Ghibli library, is one such movie. Directed by newcomer Hiroyuki Morita, this film is a spin-off of Yoshifumi Kondo's magical Whisper of the Heart--almost unheard of for a studio that strives on original productions.
The story, which involves Haru, an unlucky high school student, whisked away to
the Cat Kingdom after saving a feline from being run over by a truck, is serviceable but uninspired and predictable in a Disney-ish sort of way--a trait that Miyazaki and Takahata's works never shared, and that is a detriment to this film.
More problematic, however, is the "believe in yourself" message. Rather than allowing the viewer to watch the struggles of the protagonist and determine what she has to learn in order to return to her homeland, Haru is given this very message verbally about halfway through the movie. Not only does this undermine the theme, it makes the ultimate resolution less satisfactory than it should be.
The Cat Returns is not a bad film by any means. It has its preciously delightful moments (an adorable scene where we see a young girl feeding a small, filthy kitten fish crackers and a very charming ballroom dance sequence), a healthy share of comedy (mostly in the form of a grouchy fat furball named Muta), and one truly memorable character, a suave, splendidly dressed "aristocat" antique by the name of Baron (his presence carries the movie as a whole). But while unquestionably fine for children and families, the film is ultimately a weaker effort, both narratively and artistically (the artwork, although colorful and imaginative for the most part lacks the polish that we have come to expect from Ghibli), and consequently, is not especially memorable.
Aurally, The Cat Returns cannot be faulted. The musical score from Yuji Nomi (Whisper of the Heart) is pleasantly orchestral and charming, and the ending theme song which accompanies the closing credits is lovely and catching. And of course, Disney does yet another fabulous job of providing a top-notch cast to translate the movie into English. These include Tim Curry, Peter Boyle, and Elliot Gould. Special credit in particular goes to Cary Elwes (Donald Curtis in Porco Rosso), who is perfect as the suave, debonair Baron. On the other side of the spectrum, Anne Hathaway's Haru, although good, sometimes comes across as too whiney. Granted, this is how she is supposed to be, but it does detract from the likeability of the character.
As mentioned, children will obviously enjoy The Cat Returns, but in contrast to the studio's more memorable features, it falls disappointingly short. Although better than the worst animated features out there, The Cat Returns, so far, ranks as the weakest of the Studio Ghibli films. Ghibli completists will pick it up just for the sake of "owning the entire collection", but chances are it will not be among their top ten lists.
The story here is very similar to many other Ghibli movies. A character is thrust into a magical land, or sees something out of the ordinary. However unoriginal it may be, it's well done. It's well written, and it's well paced.
The art style is a bit mediocre for a movie. The characters are drawn very simply, and lack shading to make them look more three-dimensional. The background paintings are very beautiful, though.
Soundwise, it is very well done. The music is high quality, and the stereo sound is mastered well. The English dub is done pretty well, no
complains there really.
The character is very relatable, especially if you are a girl. My sister and one of her friends were watching this, and fell in love with the movie. I believe the reason for this was the central female protagonist. She is portrayed realistically and believably as a teenage high school girl.
Although a bit short for a Ghibli movie, it's a concise, memorable and whimsical adventure into a fantasy world that is worth seeing. It is a good movie overall; if you like Miyazaki's work, give this one a go.
Studio Ghibli has a long history of film making and is known for its great producers. They've made a name for themselves as one of the best studios in the past few decades with all the movies that have risen to fame quickly and cultivating fans throughout their entire run. Everyone has probably watched a Miyazaki film or heard his name. His movies are always top quality and tend to outshine the other films Ghibli makes.
Neko no Ongashi or The Cat Returns is one that has received both good and bad opinions over the years. I discovered this movie due to watching a marathon of
Ghibli films and at first this movie seemed quite bland and boring, but it entertained me with the concept and I unexpectedly enjoyed it.
The story follows Haru, a girl who has an ordinary life and is nothing too special in beauty, nor special qualities. She stumbles upon a cat on the road and runs to save it without a second thought and it turns out to be a cat prince.
The story from there takes off into an adventure of cats trying to please her and repay for what she did to save the prince. Over a time period she gets a proposal to be engaged with the prince and it takes off to the perfect comedy/fantasy themed story.
Shes taken to a place where cats can talk and live out their daily lives, basically like their land. She gets turned into a cat the more she stays there and if she doesn't leave by a specific time shes stuck a cat forever.
Ghibli has a art style that doesn't match today's high quality art style like most animes, yet still makes it perfect and wonderful to watch.
Art for an anime is something i'm really picky about. If the art isn't something I can enjoy then I usually judge the anime harsher. Though the art for this is nothing great, it's perfect for the time it was made and fit the movie greatly. The characters were really nicely drawn and the cats were all different and had a unique trait to each of them. Though the art may not be top quality, some scenes were just beautiful to watch and had some effort really put into them.
The sound for this movie was probably the thing I enjoyed the most. The background music for each scene was actually very calming and made the mood of the movie all around really good. The voice actors were all really good, especially baron, and you can really feel the emotion that they all put into trying to bring the characters to life. Now the ending for this movie is probably on the most calming song i've ever heard. It's really catchy and really did a good job finishing off the movie.
The characters for this movie were actually really pleasing to watch and made the movie even better.
You have Haru, a girl who is just living an ordinary life who gets thrown into a world she is unknown to. This brings out for a lot of adventure and comedy from the reactions that she gives.
Second you have baron, a cat that helps everybody and is very cunning. He makes the movie even better with his heroic deeds and actually starts to attract Haru's attention.
The rest of the cast is built of cats and they made the movie fun to watch. The king is someone can be misjudged, but his intentions aren't bad. The prince doesn't get too much show time, but really sticks out when he's in the scenes and makes it even better. Lastly you get Yuki, a cat that knows Haru when she first enters the cat world and makes a good mystery for how she knows her.
This movie is one that gets overshadowed by the more popular films, but can compete with them. The story of it is unique and was the first time i've seen it tackled. The art was perfect quality for its time and still very enjoyable for the genre and audience that it's aimed at today. The sound is something I greatly enjoyed throughout the movie and the ending song is just perfect to me and I fell in love with it. The characters are pretty unique and what makes this movie what it is. It gives a nice feel to the main being taken away to a new land and the adventures awaits from there. I recommend anyone who loves Ghibli to check this out!
The Cat Returns is a bit of an odd one. It's connected to another Studio Ghibli film, Whispers of the Heart, but they don't have any of the same characters nor are their plots connected. Basically, the protagonist in that film writes a story as part of a subplot and this is supposedly that story. The connection is very loose and pretty unimportant, which is why I'm reviewing this one before Whispers of the Heart.
The Cat Returns follows a young girl named Haru. One afternoon she's heading home from school when she sees a cat about to get run over by a truck. Acing
quickly, she saves his life. The cat wipes itself off in a very humanoid way, thanks her and goes about its way. That night Haru is visited by a procession of cats walking on two legs and the king of cats thanks her for saving his son and gives her a scroll listing all of the “great” gifts that she'll receive, including the right to marry his son. Haru, not wanting to marry a cat for obvious reasons, seeks out the cat bureau. A place run by a cat figurine given life by the power of animism named Baron Humbert von Gikkingen. Baron agrees to help her, but she's quickly grabbed by a horde of cats. The story goes from there to the kingdom of cats and Haru's struggle to escape. On the positive side, the story is well-paced with both good and funny moments. On the negative side, it's really predictable and there's very little tension.
The characters in this are okay. I did like Baron quite a bit, but Haru is one of the most generally useless protagonists I've ever seen in a Studio Ghibli film. For most of the film she's just going along with everything and having to be rescued. The characters as a whole are pretty under-developed.
The art is spectacular, of course. The character designs look good. The action sequences are drawn well. The backgrounds are stunning. It's what you'd expect from a Ghibli film. One thing that is noteworthy are the movements. They manage to make the movements of the feline characters look very catty while still using gestures and posing that are readily recognisable. Which does make for some interesting sights.
They got a pretty good vocal cast. All of the performances are well done and pretty memorable. The best probably come from Hakamada Yoshihiko, Ikewaki Chizuru and Maeda Aki. The music is just superb.
The ho-yay factor is a 1/10. There is none in this.
The Cat Returns is a rather silly film, but it is pretty enjoyable. It's certainly not one of Studio Ghibli's best works, but it's one that's worth checking out. Final rating: 7/10. Next week I'll look at something more serious. Have a handkerchief ready, it's Grave of the Fireflies.
Cat Returns is a bit of an anomaly Ghibli movie. It isn’t directed by Miyazaki or Takahata, but instead by Hiroyuki Morita, dude who went onto direct Bokurano. It’s a spin-off story from Whisper of the Heart, and was originally only supposed to be a 20 minute piece, but for various reasons kept spiralling up and up in length until we got this full blown movie. Not that you need to know any of this going in. It’s about a girl who saves a cat from being hit by a truck. The cat hails from the Cat Kingdom, who promises to repay her by being
a huge nuisance. A bit like how cats cough up dead animals on your chest and expect to be congratulated.
Cat Returns doesn’t get a whole lot of publicity next to its Ghibli movie compatriots. It’s not a sprawling epic fantasy, nor a deeply personal human tale like their other movies. Cat Returns is firmly a comedy. It’s trade is primarily visual slapstick, but there’s enough cleverness to the way its presented that it doesn’t feel juvenile or get old quickly. They’re usually one-note things, like the bodyguard cats having a fur pattern that makes them look like they’re wearing tuxedos, or the disproving look the Muslim cat wearing a burqa gives her husband after she catches him ogling another pretty lady cat. Most of the visual gags come from ‘cat lore’ ideas such as this, where they translate human ideas into cat form. What would the leader of a slightly dodgy organisation give as a present? Why, recreational drugs of course! Otherwise known as catnip in cat-lore.
When it’s not trading in on its visual humour, Cat Returns goes to that stable of Ghibli tricks to bring out the wonder as the magical enters the mundane world. Statues coming to life, cats parading down the street, entering a street that you’re clearly too big for. I’ve never been as big on the massive sprawling fantasy epics Ghibli do, because they feel like they get a bit lost in what they’re trying to do and end up getting all a bit silly. Where I love them is Porco Rosso, Arrietty or the start of Spirited Away where it’s the injection of a little bit of magic into the regular world, and time and time again they nail those scenes. The way the music tees up the scene, how there’s little hints of reveals that something’s up before it actually happens. The movie does lose this edge when they enter The Cat Kingdom, but the visual comedy picks up the slack there. It gets all a bit silly, but since its played for jokes, it remains thoroughly entertaining.
Cat Returns doesn’t have an annoyingly perfect female lead either! The lead character is an humanly flawed teenage girl who feels she’s sucking at life and wouldn’t mind a change in identity to escape from it all. Her story of self-confidence, while obviously not the main attraction while you’ve got cats wearing burqas, wraps up quite nicely in its own way. She’s animated quite strangely, in a different way to how Ghibli usually operate it. She stumbles a lot, moves like she’s uncomfortable in her skin, and has lots of little attention to detail that’s really quite noticeable and goes a long way to establishing her character using visual cues. It’s rather reminiscent of the way KyoAni animates nowadays, except without all the little cutesy details like inward pointing toes and other animation tricks sacrificed towards the Unholy Alter of Moe. Although considering the Cat Returns girl falls over a lot and is generally really clumsy, maybe she is a K-ON girl after all? She even has the eyes for it.
As an aside, the English Dub is possibly the best I’ve ever heard. Disney usually do good jobs anyway, but they really knocked it out of the park with Cat Returns. Every single role is nailed, from the gentlemen cat’s posh Britishness to the king cat’s opening “heeeyyy babe” line. The main girl in particular is so fantastically done, and she wouldn’t have come across as human as she did without it. I know poor old Bang Zoom can’t afford to bring on friggen Anne Hathaway to voice their main characters like Disney did for Cat Returns, but it really is nice to watch an anime of this quality and not either flinch every 5 minutes because of bad line delivery or resort to subs and have my eyes glued to the bottom 6 inches of the screen.
Cat Returns doesn’t leave a huge impact. Its comedy, being of the silly variety, doesn’t hold a lot of weight. The story is quite pedestrian too, if at least still well executed. But the movie is a huge amount of fun, and genuinely laugh out loud in a way Ghibli normally are not. It’s magical, doesn’t outstay its welcome, and I’m hard pushed to think of a way the movie could have been any better. So yeah, Ghibli make good movies. News at 11.
“I f—king love pussy, I don’t know how I’d live without it. Reiko! Write a movie about pussy!” — Hayao Miyazaki
“Already done, sir.” — Reiko Yoshida
“Oh, well….ummm. You know, yeah, this is probably, uh, this probably better than what I had in mind.” — Hayao Miyazaki
The Cat Returns is a simple film, so simple that it flies over the head of a sizable segment of the viewing audience. At first glance, it appears to be an innocent, unsophisticated “kid’s” movie about bipedal cat’s who live in a feudal system of sorts, mimicking the behaviors of human culture. Their permanent residence
(i.e. the Cat Kingdom) is a sanctuary for them to live freely and detach themselves from captivity of being domesticated. Of course, when a young girl named Haru saves their Prince, they return the favor by entering the human world, and showering her with gifts that are befitting for a cat, but ill-suited for a human being. Not easily deterred, the Cat Kingdom arranges a marriage for her, in which she would wed the Prince, and gain access to all the privileges of being part of the royal family. In a moment of thinking out loud, Haru ponders the advantages of being a cat, and even relishes the opportunity of being happily lazy. And thus begins a series of events, in which Haru must escape the Cat Kingdom, with the aid of the Baron and Muta, to return to her rightful place in human society.
Now they we covered the main plot points, we must decipher the meaning behind the work.
In the course of the pre-wedding build up, Haru’s body begins to transform in some interesting ways — in other words, she is becoming a cat. Evidence of this “transformation,” however, begin far before the physical features become noticeable. Whether its oversleeping in the morning, staring off into space as a volleyball hits her in the head, or fantasizing about a superficial relationship (i.e. a “shiny” deterrent from reality), Haru has become disassociated from the rigors of human existence and yearns for a more indolent lifestyle. But it’s not so much that Haru wants to become a cat that initiates this modification in her appearance, it’s her aversion to becoming a self-reliant adult that triggers the events to come. This sort of thinking happens a lot in young adults, as they are expected “take off” the metaphorical training wheels of adolescence to inject themselves into a society where no one will take care them, except for themselves.
In a sense, Haru is not attempting to escape from the Cat Kingdom, so much as she is trying to “escape” her own adolescence. Think about it: she still talks to cats as a seventeen-year-old girl; envisions herself as a slothful, unaccountable cat; and stares at the “cool” Baron in ways that might suggest that she is falling in love with him. Perhaps if this was a Disney movie, she would marry the Baron, be whisked away to a distant kingdom, and live happily ever after (is that phrase trademarked? God, I hope not.). But not here. Because there are no fairy tale endings in real life, leaving Haru with only one pragmatic choice: becoming an adult. And as she gains the confidence to embrace her new responsibilities, a pair of new moms pass Hiromi and her on the street; and while Hiromi stares with apprehension (still concerned with superficial relationships), Haru gazes with a new found confidence and optimism for the future — fully prepared to commence the next phase of her life.
***As a quick side note, I consider a “6” to be an extremely respectable score. Far above my current average of 3.56.***
Studio Ghibli has the reputation of making nothing but classics that will forever be remembered. Even as I've started marathoning through some of the lesser known titles in the Ghibli library, even the obscure ones were surprisingly good. This is the first Ghibli film to disappoint me. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either. It was just a vanilla story.
Story (6/10) The concept was very good. But the way it was handled felt too easy. The fact that the cat happened to be a prince was a funny coincidence. But then the fact that Haru just happened to have a voice tell her where
she needed to go was too easy. The fact that they were willing to help her for no explained reason was too easy. Even after things start going wrong, there's just a deus ex machina that comes in and solves the problem each time. It was all too easy. There was no real struggle for the happy ending.
Art (7/10) For 2000s animation, this is pretty good. There weren't any real breathtaking scenes, but the dance scene was done very well. Aside from Haru's character design, everyone was drawn very well.
Sound (6/10) It does its job. I didn't really hear anything to memorable, but it did what it was supposed to do.
Character (4/10) This was easily the most frustrating part of the movie. I literally cannot tell you a thing about Haru, or the Baron. Haru is nice...and that's it. She literally doesn't do anything else. The Baron is a typical cool heart throb character, aside from being a cat. He saves the day, and sounds cool while doing it. That said his personality is just as bland as Haru's. The only character that stood out was Muta. Ironically, he's the one that got the most back story.
Enjoyment (7/10) This movie was in no way unpleasant. There is nothing "bad" about it. But coming from a studio like Studio Ghibli, the movie feels worse than it actually is. If this was made by someone else, I could see it being a popular kids movie. But when you put this movie next to other works like the Miyazaki movies, or even its parent movie (Whisper of the Heart) it looks really bad.
Overall (6/10) This movie was more disappointing than it was bad. I understand why some people would like it. There are some cool ideas in this film. But I feel like none of them were pushed hard enough. It works as a nice easter egg for those who liked Whisper of the Heart. But as a stand alone, it isn't anything to write home about.
Studio Ghibli. Mention this studio to any anime fan and they'll instantly think of either Hayao Miyazaki or rattle off any of his movies. In that list of movies, there will be a slim chance that a fan will mention The Cat Returns, one of Ghibli's more light-hearted efforts. I have to admit that I've avoided this title for a long time due to Miyazaki's lack of involvement with this project. This, however, is a decision that should be regretting at the moment because, surprisingly enough, I liked this film. I liked it a lot.
This movie's story couldn't be more straight-forward. It's a simple fantasy
tale that, despite not being a two-hour epic like Miyazaki's movies, tells an incredibly coherent story that's easy to follow for anyone. I think the key to enjoying this movie lies in the fact that the viewer needs to take what is presented before them as it is. There is no point in wracking your brain for any sort of in-depth, universal message in this movie because there really isn't one. I have a feeling that this is where people dismiss the movie as "weak" when compared to Ghibli's other efforts. The film's message has no more depth than your average Disney animated film ("believe in yourself"), which seems sort of tagged on at times thanks to one of the characters saying that several times over the course of the film. If you try to watch the film based on that message alone, you won't get much out of it, though there are elements of a coming-of-age story buried beneath the film's fantastic adventure and splendor. The story is something that should be appreciated at face-value rather than something that could be measured up to one of Miyazaki's films. On its own, the story is simple enough to almost be boring, but the witty humor (which is actually quite well done) and interesting characters make the story one well-worth being told.
Speaking of characters, it would be harsh to say that these characters are two-dimensional, but, then again, the movie's suspension of disbelief works well enough to make me believe in a talking cat. While these are not the most realistic characters in Ghibli film history (again, talking cats), there's a human warmth to each of them that makes the viewer support the heros and sympathize the villain. In a fairy-tale-esque story like this, it would be easy to separate the heroes and villains into black and white, but even the villains' chaotic deeds are lined with good intentions and the heroes aren't all that heroic to begin with. The main character, Haru, sort of belongs in the middle ground because of how indecisive her personality was to begin with. The characters' distinct personality traits also make them easy to recognize. You could probably summarize each character in one sentence without saying which species they are. They're also all very likable, including the villains' lackeys, which almost never happens to me when watching an anime. Maybe its Baron's gentlemanly poise or The Cat Prince's nobility that do the trick. Or maybe it's just as easy to get lost with the characters as it is to escape in the world they live in. Normally, I would say that not adding enough depth to these characters is a missed opportunity, but with characters like these, heavy, three-dimensional character depth almost becomes unnecessary. For the world that they're created in, the amount of warmth and depth they have is just enough.
Do I really need to go into the art for a Studio Ghibli film? It's almost a given that if you're going to watch a Ghibli film, you're going to be handed some gorgeous visuals along with a decent story. While this is by no means the studio's best artistic effort, a handful of scenes really stand out in terms of artistry, such as the introduction of The Cat Kingdom and Haru's search for "the big, white cat" at a busy shopping centre. The latter especially stood out in my mind, since the artists put great detail in making sure that every piece of lettering on the signs by the shops were legible. As for the character designs, Haru's is noteworthy to me even though she is supposed to be an average Japanese student with average looks. She looks like a cat to me, which makes me wonder if that was an intentional character trait on the artists' parts of if that's just a conclusion that I came down to on my own. Aside from the fact that they walk on their hind legs from time to time, the physiology of that cats is really well done. It even shows when they fold their paws in as they stand up. The overall artistic atmosphere will feel familiar to you if you've seen movies like "Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland" or "Catnapped!" without the trippy visuals. For a movie that was made at the dawn of the new, computer-colored anime age, the animation is refreshing and vibrant.
Over the years, Disney has built up a reputation for having top-notch dubbing in the English versions of Ghibli films, and this one was no exception. The flow of the voice acting hardly made the film sound like I was watching an anime at all. It didn't even sound like the voice actors went into the studio thinking that they were going to dub an anime feature. For the majority of the characters, the English voices matched the characters well. I thought Haru's voice was a little deep at first, but I got used to it eventually. Baron having a dapper British accent made his character all the more likable and Muta, the fat cat, even sounded like he was fat and boorish. It's easy to hear in the actors' voices that they not only put in the effort to try to match their voices to the characters' lips, but they sounded like they had fun taking on the challenge.
The music didn't stand out a lot of the time for me, but when it was noticeable, it was worth listening to as a separate piece of music. The soundtrack even strayed into neo classical territory at times, especially during scenes in the Cat Kingdom. Straying from the film's orchestral soundtrack, the ending theme song is an incredibly upbeat and catchy pop song led by one woman and her ukulele. You'll have to drink a couple of bottles of brain bleach in order to get that one out of your head. The audio aspect of the film couldn't have been more satisfying to me.
I don't know what it is about this movie that made me enjoy it so much. The story, characters, and the world they live in are simple enough that this movie seems to be tailor-made for children and their families, yet there's a certain spark about it that made me cheer on for the characters and leave me in shock if they were ever in trouble. That's probably it: the innocence of this story was what drew me in. The magic is in its simplicity. There's nothing hidden beneath it and there's no reading between the lines. It's just a good movie with a good plot and nothing more. Sometimes Ghibli films need a break from their reputation as animated epics with hard-hitting moral messages. Sometimes you just need to escape into a world of fantasy without the weight of philosophy on your shoulders. And if that fantasy world is filled with cats that stand on their hind legs and talk, so be it.
I watched this Ghibli film under the assumption that it's directed by Miyazaki, but something was not right. The art style is very different for starters. Miyazkaki's films tend to have stunning background scenery, with some very eccentric non-human character designs coupled with rather uninspiring human character designs. "The Cat Returns" is exactly the opposite. Here the background scenery aren't very notable, the non-human characters are kind of plain, but the human character designs are refreshingly different to the ones in other Miyazaki films. Even the colouring used in the artwork is different - the colours seem brighter and less soft in "The Cat Returns".
The content also seemed different. For one thing, even though the story is pretty wacky, it's just not as outlandish when compared against other Miyazaki works. It's also a more superficial, comedy oriented work. Ever read "Alice in Wonderland"? Well, this is Haru in Catland. Even though "Spirited Away" also reminded me of "Alice in Wonderland", I think the resemblance is stronger in "The Cat Returns" because of its more light hearted approach. When the ending credits rolled, everything was explained - "The Cat Returns" is not directed by Miyazaki. No wonder it felt so different!
The fact that "The Cat Returns" is not a Miyazaki film might be a stumbling block for some. His presence in Ghibli films is so heavy it can be hard to watch one without the expectation of seeing his stylistic influences. It's even more difficult to appreciate "The Cat Returns" because, to be honest, it's inferior to the average Miyazaki film. This doesn't mean it's bad though. On the contrary, for me it was like a breath of fresh air. Though I do like Miyazaki films (not as much as most other people like them, admittedly), all his films have kind of a same-ness about them, and it can get a little tiring after watching so many. In comparison to those, "The Cat Returns" has a much more easy going mood, and I, for one, found this to be a welcoming change and delightful to watch.
The characters are colourful and funny, with the banter between them providing one of the main attractions for the show. They may not have much depth, but that isn't really required in a light anime such as this - what's important is that the characters are interesting and entertaining, which they are. Apparently some of the characters are taken from "Whispers of the Heart" (perhaps that's why the title is "The Cat Returns"). I've watched "Whispers of the Heart", but don't recall seeing them, so I doubt they played very heavy roles in that. The link is tenuous at best, so watching that is not a prerequisit to watching this.
"The Cat Returns" is great for a casual watch. However, it feels like it's lacking something, and isn't engaging enough to be rated any higher than a plain "good". I think at least part of the problem lies with the characters' voices. The protagonist Haru's voice is good for the comedy moments, and fits her character quite well, but doesn't sound dramatic enough on occasions when it should. The voices in general just sound often sound very quiet, leaving the mood feeling a bit empty. This would be my main criticism of the anime (if you're wondering why the score I gave for the sound is still quite high, it's because it picked up points for having great music). Nevertheless, it's a very likeable anime, and can definitely be enjoyed if approached with an open mind.
Studio Ghibli was strong in the early 2000s. This particular film is a bit of a divergence from the studio’s norm. The Cat Returns is actually a spin-off from a previous Ghibli film, Whisper of the Heart. The other way this diverts from the norm is a different director was chosen, and he was Hiroyuki Morita (animator in Akira, Lupin III). Fun fact, Miyazaki actually tested others to come up with a story featuring three key elements from Whisper of the Heart: the cat Baron, big fat cat Muta, and a mysterious antique shop. Morita took the challenge and past thus creating his own story
which turned into this adorable film.
Our story focuses on the lonely-esc girl, Haru, whom is going through the usual teenage angst thought process of life is dull and needs a change. She ends up saving a cat from getting hit by an auto, which begins the tale. The Cat King decides to repay her kindness, but with all of the cats trying to help in comical way ends up becoming more trouble then she bargained for. Eventually she is lead to the cat kingdom to be married to the Cat Prince.
There are three main characters that create the film, the Baron, Haru, and Muta. Haru, as mentioned before, goes through trials of her own character in order to truly find herself. Muta is a big fat cat and plays essentially the comic relief role and does a good job with it. The Baron is a renegade cat whom Haru seeks out for help in her matter with the Cat King. A regular Prince Charming one could say. Even the “antagonist” in the Cat King is done exceptionally well. Of course, being Ghibli, music and animation are amazing as per the usual.
No, the film doesn’t have a mass sci-fi or magical environment like some of the studios other big hits (Spirited Away), but much like Whisper of the Heart and Only Yesterday is more down to Earth and sets a realistic tone despite most of the film taking place in a Cat Kingdom. The Cat Returns is about Haru realising who she is and what she truly wants out of her own life. For what the film is and what it is supposed to be, The Cat Returns is truly a film worthy of being described as adorable.
Great anime film by studio ghibli and it's not too long so you won't get bored.
The film has some of the same characters from 'whisper of the heart' but that doesn't mean you have to go and watch that becasue the film will still make sense.
It's a very simple story to understand and it's very enjoyable.
The main charater has problems with being herself and making choices which puts her in abit of a situation in the film.
However there are people there to help her.
I won't give any spoilers because I'm sure you will want to find out for yourself.
I noticed that the art in this
film is different to other studio ghibli films but it's still good.
Overall a great film to watch
Hope this review is ok as it's one of my first ;)
This is only my second review, but I'm hoping it will be of some use to someone somewhere...
Okay, well the story is pretty basic. If you've seen other Miyazaki flicks, you know that usually the story is a little like this: There's a female protagonist in some strange situation because she saw or did or interacted with some type of otherwordly thing. Basically, Haru, who is completely normal, saves a cat and gets WAY more than she bargained for. It's really short, and there aren't too many plot twists, but it's a nice story. It's pretty relatable because Haru is so average. I liked it,
but it wasn't Miyazaki at is finest or anything.
I can't complain. It's distinctive and you can tell right away that it's a movie done by Miyazaki. It isn't very intricate or outstandingly elegant. Very simple, but very visually appealing, especially the scenery.
I was really surprised that the English dub wasn't trash. The music was great, as usual and the dialogue was nice.
Haru is very simple and ordinary, but she's portrayed as very pure and good-willed. Her buddies (cats) are...really great. The Baron has a very typical "hero" feel to him, but I mean, it's still pretty cool. Muta was really funny and if you've seen Whisper of the Heart, you'll probably enjoy seeing Muta in The Cat Returns.
Enjoyment and Overall:
It's great, but when you have someone like Hayao Miyazaki, it's not surprising that it's overshadowed by other pieces of his work. If you're a fan of Miyazaki, you will more than likely like this movie. It's nice watch and it's easy to fall in love with. I think female audiences may be more entertained because Haru is so easy to identify with as a typical high school girl with no particularly special talents or skills.
So, as with most Studio Ghibli, this was very good, but i would recommend that you watch this and then the whispers of the heart. It's supposed to be the other way round but i find it more enjoyable that way.
The story isn't original, but it's done in an original way and that's one of the things that makes Studio Ghibli great in the genre of anime movies.
The art i like because of the cats, but it seems a bit too light for any meaningful sad scenes which is why i refrained from a higher mark.
The sound was alright, but could be better, to trial
it for yours elf here is a link to the theme of one of the main characters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaKzVqDOIFA&list=PLzoDWpsQhBfOlwcgWF89lKuuXpIKEpn9L&index=1
The characters are exceptional, with the Baron being mentioned over multiple films and its gratifying to see him finally brought to life in animation, as a Baron myself he is without a doubt my favourite character from Studio Ghibli. For me, the Baron seems to take control of the movie away from the main, but im fine with this as a fan of the Baron.
In terms of overall, i is a kinda short movie, but its packed full of ideas and can't be called bad in any respect.
As the Baron myself, i might be biased, but to me that doesn't matter...
Story - This has to be my favourite Studio Ghibli film so far - it is so engaging in every aspect. Unlike most movies, you never properly feel like the characters are in danger, and this movie ends up being more of a relaxing film to watch due to how soothing and cute it is. I am a big fan of action, and although there was not a lot in this, I still found this to be an AMAZING movie.
Art - If you compare this movie to the rest of Ghibli's works (other than My Neighbours the Yamadas), it stands out as odd. It isn't
bad by a long shot, but it just felt a tiny bit lacklustre at times as sometimes it can look a bit goofy.
Sound - The music in this film was phenomenal and engaging. The sound quality is a bit old and there a couple of Natoru's lines which seem a bit too far from the microphone or have a slight echo.
Character - Every single character in this movie is loveable. A lot of anime movies would have at least one character who you would think needs to shut up, but not in The Cat Returns! The Baron, the Cat King, Haru, Muta, Lune, all of them - loveable characters with distinct personalities that don't clash and make this an amazing film.
Enjoyment - This movie was super enjoyable the entire way through, from the very first scene to listening to Ayano Tsuji's singing over the credits at the end (she was also an amazing choice and sang it beautifully). Every single little bit about this film was enjoyable for anyone and everyone.
Overall - This movie is highly recommended, I give it a 10/10 and I already want to watch it a second time, and I only just finished it.
Haru is your average, ordinary high school girl. Until she saves a black cat from getting hit by a truck, it all seems normal, until the cat stands on tow legs and speaks to her. Too make matters even crazier, that cat she saved is a prince from the cat kingdom, and his father the king wants Haru to marry his son, and become the princess of the cat kingdom. Of course, Haru doesn't want to and enlists the help of a suave, sophisticated Baron cat with his gargantuan cat sidekick Muto, as they must rescue Haru from the clutches of the cat king.
CAT RETURNS is one of the few Studio Ghibli films I've actually not seen. The animation, story and all around feel are very Ghibli-esc. With its melancholy soundtrack the film is beautiful to watch and listen too. Especially since the sub is actually really well done. It's a little silly and childish sometimes, when you compare to the more mature films like PRINCESS MONONOKE and GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES. But this little film is very cute and very well made. I' not much of a cat person, but I really enjoyed THE CAT RETURNS.
This movie is like a Miyazaki movie. The story is a very well thought out and creative, i think it might be enjoyable to most ages. The animation is very good and that just adds to it's charm. Not much romance but thats what makes it even more better. These days it's hard to get ppl to read stories, mangas, or watch tv shows, anime without romance involved. This one just has several cute scenes that just makes you say 'aww' or squeal a little. Recommend to everyone, if you see and dont like it then forget about it but i'd highly doubt anyone
would actually hate the movie. Pretty much you'd enjoy it^^
First off, I saw both the English dubbed and the subbed version. Just to say, I ADORED the Baron's voice in the English dub. Just the voice made me fall in love with him, not to mention how awesome he is.
This was a cutesy, giggly, aww show for me. The story was simply an 'ok' for me, I didn't learn anything really profound in it, the art was also 'ok'. The main character was 'so-so'.
But somehow, despite how this seems to be a recipe for disaster, the way the story went, it's bizzareness and randomness and surprises and humor, it left an impression on me.
I fell in love with the Baron and a remembered how fun my childhood was.
Watching this was like a throwback to my kiddie years and I felt my imagination and wonder soar long after the credits rolled.
What if those amazing things you thought about of when you were young were actually possible? What if the world was only hiding it's amazingness from your critical eyes? What if, what if, what if?
That's what this show left me with.
Whatever else might be said about The Cat Returns, it’s worth appreciating just how unusual it is that this movie exists in the first place. A spin-off film from a studio that has up until this point solely focused on self-contained projects, focusing on a character who wasn’t even technically a living being in their parent movie, Whisper of the Heart, and trading that film’s sense of cozy, lived-in authenticity for a whimsical fantasy adventure that stands at a crossroads between Robin Hood and Alice in Wonderland. It’s a bizarre creation no matter how you look at it, the kind of “How did anyone think
of this” occurrence that makes some semblance of sense in hindsight, yet baffles the mind to consider how so many people got on the same page and decided this was a direction they wanted to take in the first place. Ghibli had just released their most broadly beloved success yet with Spirited Away, and this is how they decide to follow it up? Once again, I’m left to marvel at the idiosyncratic decision-making that goes into this studio’s planning process. I don’t know how they so consistently come up with the most unexpected game plans, but considering how delightful the results of their willingness to experiment usually are, I have very little reason to complain.
The plot, for what it’s worth, is entirely self-contained as well, meaning that you don’t have to see Whisper of the Heart, or even really know about it, to enjoy The Cat Returns on its own merits. Haru is an ordinary schoolgirl trying to live a relatively normal life, but she’s clumsy and easily excitable and unsure of herself, and things don’t always go her way as a result. There’s a sense of real, awkward weariness to the way she goes about life, like she’d rather be anyone else, doing anything else, than keep living as her own gangly self. It also helps that she’s voiced in the dub by Anne Goddamn Hathaway, who delivers what might genuinely be my favorite Ghibli dub performance thus far. Seriously, she doesn’t just capture Haru’s stammering sarcasm to a T, she elevates the character so far above and beyond everyone else, crackling with enough genuine wit, snark, flusterdness and charm, that even as the plot starts heading in more fantastical directions as it picks up, she is consistently the most entertaining, enrapturing part of the entire damn affair. There are so many stellar performances in this dub, from Andy Richter to Kristen Bell to Tim Freaking Curry, but Hathaway walks all over them so gracefully, with so much poise and lack of pretension, that it’s almost kind of insulting. We get it, girl, you really are that good, now give everyone else a chance to catch up, will ya?
Meanwhile, the story kicks off in earnest when Haru saves a cat from being crushed in traffic, and it turns out the cat in question is actually the prince of a magical cat kingdom from another world, full of frisky felines able to walk and talk like people. The kingdom is grateful to Haru for saving the prince, but their attempts to repay her kindness go overboard almost instantly, spilling into her life and making her already tenuous control over her situation even more unstable. And then things go way too far when, in their misguided kindness, the cats decide that Haru should be forced to marry the prince as her ultimate reward, something that she is in no way willing to participate in thanks to A) already having a crush on another boy in her school, B) not being ready for marriage yet on account of still being in high school, and C) not being a furry. So Haru is forced to flee into a world she doesn’t understand, finding shelter and friendship with a select few talking animals who are willing to help her flee the cat kingdom’s desires. Among those allies is The Baron, the besuited gentlemen cat with the voice of Cary Ewles who serves as this film’s loose tie-in to Whisper of the Heart. In that movie, the Baron was an antique who inspired the film’s protagonist in her early writing career, only coming to life in her imagination as she brainstormed ideas for how to incorporate him into her story. In The Cat Returns, there’s some lip service paid to the idea of him being a creation brought to life by the power imbued in him by that creation, but for all intents and purposes, he’s a swashbuckling Robin Hood-esque dashing hero who serves as Haru’s primary guide through the world of cats.
Thinking about it more closely, I suspect that perhaps the intention was for this movie to come off as a story written by the protagonist of Whisper of the Heart, as it carries the same whimsical tone as the story she writes in that movie, complete with the plot involving the Baron guiding a young female protagonist through a fantastical world. It certainly matches the aesthetic The Cat Returns goes for, with Haru entering a fully realized world that has clear history and expanse far beyond what we’re allowed to see over the course of the film itself. There’s something kind of charming about that, in a meta sense, thinking about this one girl creating an entire fictional universe for these characters to inhabit and figuring out what fun scenarios she can stick them in next. It also, however, also unfortunately ends up carrying over the primary flaw from that girl’s writing that was touched upon near that movie’s end; it’s still unrefined and unpolished, in need of more experience and patience to pull the whole thing together. The Cat Returns is an incredibly charming film, but at just an hour and 14 minutes- easily the shortest Ghibli film thus far, it feels like a lot was left on the cutting room floor. The second act is weirdly truncated, meaning we spend hardly any time at all getting acquainted with this world before it’s time for the epic rescue-escape climax back to our reality in the final stretch. The characters are all very personable thanks to their aforementioned stellar performances, but none of them have any real arcs to speak of save for Haru’s very simplistic “believe in yourself” message that’s spelled out in dialogue to the point of corniness. It feels like there’s a cut of this movie maybe just even fifteen minutes longer that’s a genuine classic, and I’ll forever be disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to see that version.
Still, what The Cat Returns lacks in storytelling polish, it more than makes up for in attitude and imagination. From a moment-to-moment level, this is easily one of the most charming films in Ghibli’s repertoire, full of fantastic, snappy dialogue that adds so much personality to every little interaction. The character animation is also better than it’s ever been; everyone’s movement is so effortlessly fluid on an almost constant basis that it seems impossible anyone could have hand-drawn every single frame of motion. As a result, the world feels like it’s constantly active, life and whimsy spilling from every last corner and making every moment sing with life. As for the fantasy world itself, as sad as I am we didn’t get to see more of it, what we do see does a fantastic job capturing the feel of Lewis Carol’s forays into Wonderland, the whimsy and mystery of a universe that operates with familiar signifiers but vastly different logic. There’s a great scene in the cat king’s court where he calls for people to entertain him and punishes those who fail to do so harshly, reminiscent of the murderous Red Queen, but instead of killing the washouts, he just has his guards toss them out the castle windows. And when we later go outside, we see the cats he tossed out still sulking in the background, miffed at being insulted in such a fashion. It’s such a fantastic detail, and moments like that are scattered throughout this film, from the Baron’s miniscule-but-functional dollhouse office to a confusing maze made even more confusing by the cats’ attempts to hide the correct path from Haru as the tries to escape it. As simplistic and half-finished as it is, I can’t help but be charmed by it all.
In the end, The Cat Returns is far from the best film Ghibli’s ever made, but I suspect it’s one I’m going to be returning to many times in the future. There’s just too much stuff I adore in it- the imagination, the animation, Anne Goddam Hathaway- to be that put off by the weaknesses in its construction. Much like Whisper of the Heart’s protagonist at the end of her journey, it’s unpolished and rough around the edges, but the core of the thing is so effortlessly charming that it’s easy to get lost in all the same.
The original manga of The Cat Returns by Aoi Hiiragi has a much more subtle, evocative message than its movie adaptation. The manga's primary theme involves coming to terms with the loss of a loved one, and it has a more magical realist touch that blurs the line between inner and outer. However, the movie solely places emphasis on believing in oneself, which feels trite by itself. It, thereby, changed significant plot elements, which degraded Aoi Hiiragi's original numinous vision. Moreover, the manga has many oneiric scenes that the movie left out, some of which tread on metaphysical territory that is difficult to discuss without
spoiling. The manga has a high-art vibe that makes you question whether our inner worlds could be considered "alive" and what it means to bond with other beings; it effectively conveys such profound, deep questions through its use of ambiguity during key moments, giving it an ethereal and mysterious atmosphere. The manga somewhat resembles a story by Kenji Miyazawa.
Overall, I recommend the manga. The movie did a disservice to Aoi Hiiragi's vision. It is very hard to appreciate a movie adaptation when you see how superior the original source material is. Granted, I still recommend watching the movie but only after you've read the manga. It is nice to compare and contrast them. Finally, on a humorous note, the title "The Cat Returns" doesn't make sense in the context of the movie's plot, but it does makes sense in relation to the original manga.
The original manga of The Cat Returns by Aoi Hiiragi has a much more subtle, evocative message than its movie adaptation. The manga's primary theme involves coming to terms with the loss of a loved one, and it has a more magical realist touch that blurs the line between inner and outer. However, the movie solely places emphasis on believing in oneself, which feels trite by itself. It, thereby, changed significant plot elements, which degraded Aoi Hiiragi's original numinous vision. Moreover, the manga has many oneiric scenes that the movie left out, some of which tread on metaphysical territory that is difficult to discuss without spoiling. The manga has a high-art vibe that makes you question whether our inner worlds could be considered "alive" and what it means to bond with other beings; it effectively conveys such profound, deep questions through its use of ambiguity during key moments, giving it an ethereal and mysterious atmosphere. The manga somewhat resembles a story by Kenji Miyazawa.
Overall, I recommend the manga. The movie did a disservice to Aoi Hiiragi's vision. It is very hard to appreciate a movie adaptation when you see how superior the original source material is. Granted, I still recommend watching the movie but only after you've read the manga. It is nice to compare and contrast them. Finally, on a humorous note, the title "The Cat Returns" doesn't make sense in the context of the movie's plot, but it does makes sense in relation to the original manga.
The manga is one volume and pretty short. My criticism of the movie is that it changed the fundamental meaning of the story. The movie did adapt pretty much everything from the manga, but it changed some significant plot elements.