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'The Cat Returns' Review (Ghibli Classic: 2002)

Brett Nichols

Posted on March 15, 2020 22:54

1 user

A review of the 2002 English-dubbed classic by Studio Ghibli, 'The Cat Returns.' The movie's undeniable charm and originality make for a fun and wacky experience for all animation fans–predominantly Ghibli or otherwise.

The Long desired Sequel to A Whisper of the Heart, The Cat Returns is a story about the stresses of growing up and believing in oneself amidst pressure to adhere to the status quo. Though, that may be an oversimplification in light of the charming, action-packed, and plain wacky moments found within The Cat Returns.

Our story begins with the shy teenage protagonist named Haru who has a crush on the school’s most eligible senior. However, this narrative of girl-likes-boy is disrupted by Haru’s noble action of rescuing an assumed stray cat. Haru finds out that that the cat she rescued is the prince of Cat Kingdom and as a reward, she has a royal obligation to marry the prince by the decree of the king. In a panic with no options, she is told by a mysterious voice that she must meet a cat (Muta) that will lead her to the cat bureau where she will meet the Baron (who is himself a cat) and he will aid her in her need to be released from this arranged marriage. This precarious scenario sets the unorthodox story in motion to save Haru from the clutches of the cats in Cat kingdom.

Much like all of the Studio Ghibli films, The Cat Returns has a balance of compelling storytelling, dynamic characters, and beautiful animation that immerses the viewer into Haru’s pressing situation. One of the greatest feats of the film (and for Studio Ghibli collectively for that matter) is its ability to retain the wonderful magic of the original film in its transition from native Japanese language into its English dubbing.

The English voice of Haru is Anne Hathaway, the cool and collected Baron is voiced by Carry Elwes, the pessimist cat Muta is voiced by the late Peter Boyle, and the cool and chaotic King of cats is played by Tim Curry. The unusual and delighting characters are truly captivating, debatably providing for some of the most iconic (and classy) characters that Studio Ghibli has ever produced–alongside the likes of Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and My Neighbor Totoro.

The music, as always within Studio Ghibli productions propels the story and the various circumstances of the characters. However, a song that stands out, "Waltz Katzen Blut" by Yuji Nomi is a personal favorite of mine with its beautiful build from a single accordion to a full orchestral arrangement. It is so moving that one can sense inspiration in the music of Howl’s Moving Castle. Where Joe Hiashi is customarily the composer for Ghibli films, Nomi does a ceaselessly perfect job of creating the sense of wonder and awe that is only expected within a Ghibli film.

The Cat Returns is a film that provides a wacky and fun time for viewers to see how a sophisticated cat with a pension for helping those in need can help an insecure girl believe in herself despite adversity. It is definitely recommended to every fan of entertaining family animation.

Brett Nichols

Posted on March 15, 2020 22:54

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Source: SF Gate

Considering the elegant, simple magic of "The Cat Returns," a Studio Ghibli anime that was the highest-grossing Japanese...

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