Cat Returns, The – Anime Review

The Essentials

Name: The Cat Returns
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Episodes: N/A
Released: July 20, 2002
Based On: The Cat Returns manga by Aoi Hiiragi
Director: Hiroyuki Morita
Produced By: Studio Ghibli
US Distribution By: Walt Disney

Major Japanese Cast

Haru: Chizuru Ikewaki
Baron: Yoshihiko Hakamada
Muta: Tetsu Watanabe
Natoru: Mari Hamada
Cat King: Tetsurou Tanba
Natori: Kenta Satoi
Toto: Yousuke Saitou
Yuki: Aki Maeda
Prince Lune: Takayuki Yamada

Major English Cast

Haru: Anne Hathaway
Baron: Cary Elwes
Muta: Peter Boyle
Natoru: Andy Richter
Cat King: Tim Curry
Natori: Rene Auberjonois
Toto: Elliott Gould
Yuki: Judy Greer
Prince Lune: Andrew Bevis

Scores

Animation: 9/10 (x 4 = 36 pts)
Story: 9/10 (x 4 = 36 pts)
Music: 9/10 (x 4 = 36 pts)
Coherence/Story Arc: N/A
English Dubs: 10/10 (x 1 = 10 pts)
Gut Score: 9/10 (x 5 = 45 pts)

Total: 163/180 (90.6%)

Review

The Cat Returns is about a girl, Haru, who unwittingly saves the crown prince of the Cat Kingdom, Prince Lune, from an incoming truck as he’s traveling in the human world. The Cat Kingdom attempts to reward Haru for her good deed by giving her various gifts. However, the gifts, which include filling her yard with cattails and filling her locker with lacrosse sticks, ends up just being a lot of trouble for Haru.

To make up for this further disruption to Haru, the Cat King decides that Haru is to marry Prince Lune himself. Not wanting to marry a cat, Haru tries to find a way to get out of the engagement when a mysterious voice tells her to seek out the Cat Bureau. Once there, the The Baron and Muta, two cats not connected to the Cat Kingdom, attempt to save Haru from being married off to the Cat Prince and from ultimately becoming a cat herself.

The plot of The Cat Returns is pretty simple and straight forward, yet it is still quite entertaining. When one gets down to it, it is supposed to be a quasi-coming of age story about Haru, as she transforms from a shy and insecure high school girl uncertain of what she wants into a girl more confident and certain of what she wants. The thing that makes this movie stand out, of course, is the addition of the Cat Kingdom, which adds a fantastical element to the movie.

Probably the thing that makes this movie stand out the most is it’s writing, which helps drive a compelling story while at the same time doing a good job of giving most of the main characters a good deal of depth. The animation is very good, as is to be expected of Ghibli films, even if the style of the character designs and the animation style is a tad more traditional. The english dub, as has become the norm for Disney releases of Ghibli films, is excellent. In a sense, this is the most Disney-like of Ghibli’s films due to it’s story and animation style.

If you’re looking for a good entertaining movie which anyone of any age can enjoy, then try checking out The Cat Returns.

First Watched: October 2007
Do I Own: Yes
Do I Recommend: Yes

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