Genre: Fantasy, All Ages
Credits: 2002 Hiroyuki Morita (director), Aoi Hiiragi (manga author), Studio Ghibli
Executive Producers: Hayao Miyazaki, Hideyuki Takai, Hironori Aihara, Koji Hoshino, Seiichiro Ujiie, Takeyoshi Matsushita, Toshio Miyagawa
Producer: Toshio Suzuki
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Amazon.Com Product Description
From the creators of the Academy Award(R) winning SPIRITED AWAY (Best Animated Feature Film, 2002) comes the visually stunning THE CAT RETURNS, a spectacular animated journey to a world of magic and adventure. Haru, a schoolgirl bored by her ordinary routine, saves the life of an unusual cat, and suddenly her world is transformed beyond anything she ever imagined. The Cat King rewards her good deed with a flurry of presents, including a very shocking proposal of marriage to his son! Haru embarks on an unexpected journey to the Kingdom of Cats where her eyes are opened to a whole other world and her destiny is uncertain. To change her fate, she'll need to learn to believe in herself and appreciate her everyday life. Featuring the sensational voice talents of Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, Tim Curry, and Elliot Gould, THE CAT RETURNS is a magical animated adventure that will delight and inspire everyone.
A-meow-zing! >>> by skysenshi (10.27.2007)
Since I just rented this title, I had no idea what The Cat Returns had in store for me...other than that it's another Studio Ghibli production. So it came as a surprise when I found out that this is actually related to Whisper of the Heart. No wonder Muta and Baron looked awfully familiar!
The Cat Returns, however, had a very different feel from all the previous Miyazaki or Ghibli productions that I've seen, which was why I forgave myself for not seeing the connection between this and Whisper of the Heart. The artwork isn't as bright and shiny as Howl's Moving Castle or Spirited Away and the not-so-cute-but-cute-in-a-way heroine is nowhere to be seen. How shall I put it? The colors are lighter, more subdued, and Haru, our protagonist, has a sharper, goofier edge to her. Plus, I've never seen a Ghibli male character -- with the possible exception of Howl -- look as beautiful as Haru's crush.
Now the story's pacing is another thing altogether. Things are fast and slow at the same time. What I mean by this is that, I've been so used to so many events happening in every Ghibli title that you feel like you've really been whisked away. The Cat Returns didn't have the same action-packed turn of events that its predecessors did, but I feel like it all happened so abruptly. You hop from one world to the next, totaling three different worlds, in a snap. In other words: it felt short.
This is not to say that I didn't enjoy this movie. On the contrary, I find it completely fun and entertaining. English dubbing is pretty good. Kudos to the Disney team for making it so. More than that, the characters are a hoot. Haru is a klutz and is always confused. Her mother is playful enough to tease her in the mornings, when Haru wakes up too late to savor breakfast. I remember laughing uproariously as Muta gets into scrapes because of his uncontrollable love for food. His light banter with the crow Toto can be hilarious as well, as these two can utter the most quotable of quotes. The Cat King, on the other hand, is so whacked one would think that he dove into a vat of ionized water. So is that assistant of his, who just handles everything with a permanent smile plastered on his chubby face, disasters notwithstanding.
Ah, but who can forget the Baron von Gikkingen? Is it possible to develop a huge infatuation for a statue that turned into a real, talking cat? Halfway through the anime, I was already crushing on him. He masters the art of coolness. Completely unruffled in the face of danger, he generally makes things look easy. What female heart would not skip a beat? I'm pretty sure some other girls would feel the same way once they see him in action.
Truth be told, though, what got me engrossed is the fact that there are lots of cats here. I love cats, in all shapes and sizes. That the mangaka was able to draw out their many quirks, in many forms, impressed me. Even with a low score of 8 -- since I usually give Ghibli productions 9s or 10s -- I would definitely recommend The Cat Returns. It's just the right amount of absurdity and silliness. We definitely need these once in a while. I only wish the adventure could have gone on a little bit longer.
Individual Rating: Art/Animation 8; Story 8; Characters 10; Sounds 7