THE CAT RETURNS (2002) REVIEW:
“If you find yourself troubled by something mysterious or a problem that's had to solve, there's a place you can go where you always find help. You just need to look for it.”
- The Baron
There’s sort of a Standard Studio Ghibli plot. Girl gets lost in magical kingdom then reclaims her identity (Like Spirited Away, with cats!), and comes back to the real world. I have to say though, it’s beautiful, and the human-like cats make me laugh! I dunno, maybe I just like to laugh at really fat cats. Either way, it is magical, and a beauty to behold!
You see, like most Studio Ghibli films, the character designs and animation are where this film really shines. She is guided to the Cat Kingdom by a charming top-hatted cat from The Cat Bureau, The Baron (AKA: Baron Humpert von Gikkingen, played by Cary Elwes.) A statuette of a raven by the name of Toto also assists her, as well as a fat cat Muta. All the cats start walking in the cat world. But, as soon as she enters the cat world, the fat, mustachioed Cat King seems determined to marry her to The Prince. Let the cat chase begin!
In addition to being a wild cat chase, Haru has to escape from The Cat King and stop transforming into a cat. So, it’s kind of like Kafka mixed with LOLcats, visually inspired by Alice in Wonderland! It’s great fun, has fantastic designs, and even swordfights! Talk about adventure! All to stop being chased by cats! And just when she thought she was having fun!
There’s a good lesson here. Sometimes imagination is good, but if it runs wild, it can become scary! What starts off as a playful romp through the Cat Kingdom twists into Haru almost becoming a cat! But, as The Baron says, you can always ask for help! A fun movie, with plenty of surprises and enough eye candy to satisfy even the grumpiest of cats! (Or people!) If you have time, and like fantasy and anime, definitely give this one a watch!
Anyway, I’ll give it 4/5, but maybe I’m just really soft on Studio Ghibli! They have a way of infusing even the characters mundane life with such life and detail, that I was drawn in immediately! Of course, Haru’s mundane school life serves to highlight the strangeness of seeing walking-talking cats! And puts you in her shoes, confused amid a fantastical world full of cat-astrophe! Okay, I couldn’t resist! Great comedy, good story, great animation… it’s nearly purrfect! (Last cat joke, I promise!) Highly recommended!