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Aoi Hiiragi's manga about a schoolgirl's adventures with a very unusual feline comes to the screen in this witty anime feature. Haru is a girl who one day saves the life of a cat while on her way to school. To her surprise, Haru learns she came to the rescue of no ordinary cat -- the kitty introduces her to the Kingdom of the Cats, where the feline potentate attempts to arrange a marriage between her and his son. Brought into a world he never knew existed, Haru learns a few lessons about herself as he discovers more about the strange and magical secret world of the cats. Neko No Ongaeshi (aka The Cat Returns) was released in the United States with a dubbed soundtrack featuring the voice talents of Anne Hathaway, Andy Richter, Tim Curry, Peter Boyle, and Elliott Gould.~Mark Deming
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Rated 3 out of 5 stars
Wonderfully Animated, Strange Story
The Cat Returns is one of the more unusual films from the Studio Ghibli library. The film is beautifully animated and fun, but the story is very unusual, and may be difficult to latch onto if you're not into this type of storytelling.
The film is worth watching, but it does not have much rewatchability unfortunately.
I absolutely love studio Ghibli movies and movies from Gkids, I love the fantasy and fairytale of this movie and the beautiful animation and especially since I love cats I really adore this movie and the voice acting and the comedy that’s involved between the characters, The movie is about a girl that saves a cat that’s actually a prince and so to repay her the cat king asks her to marry the prince so the cats bring her to the cat kingdom where she then develops feline features and she is prevented from leaving so the two statues that have magically been given life help her by rescuing her if you love studio Ghibli movies and Gkids movies or movies about cats you will love this movie
I feel like the Cat Returns is an often overlooked movie. The first time I saw it I fell in love. I'm always in my head imagining far off worlds. I read constantly and I love fantasy, so immediately loving this movie is a no-brainer. Sure there's cats (yo, who doesn't love cats, they're weird), but Haru brings a curious yet brave quality to the shy schoolgirl persona. The Baron returns in this film, a mysterious and interesting character seen in his statue form in Whisper of the Heart. Haru's adventure into the Cat Kingdom is filled with wonder and excitement. It's a Ghibli film, so everything is beautiful and imaginative. You can't help but fall in love with the Baron. This movie is one of my favorites to break out when I need a happy boost.
To quote Haru, “So cool!” That said, how do I describe this one...well, the basics are a very little like Spirited Away, probably the most well known and loved of Studio Ghibli’s movies. In this one Haru, your main character, is a teenage girl obsessed with all things, and particularly one boy, that she sees as cool, something she doesn’t think of herself as. She saves a cat in the street from being run over, and while some stories might have killed her then and there and gone in a completely different direction, here she survived only to find that there is a Cat Kingdom and that she saved the prince of that kingdom’s life and the King wants to reward her. Unfortunately, what a cat would think a great reward a teenage girl...not so much, and that is where this story is unique, since, while Haru thinks nothing of it, we quickly learn she has the ability to talk to cats. Before the story they hadn’t really talked to her much, but now it leads her to someone who she hopes will intervene with the kingdom on her behalf, mostly to get them to leave her alone. Now, rather than go into any real details I’ll just say get the movie and enjoy Haru’s journey from where she began to a very different girl.
This is perhaps my favorite movie from Studio Ghibli not directed by Hayao Miyazaki, as it culls a few elements from the rest of Ghibli's works but doesn't try to completely ape them. While it is still a fun and surreal fantasy adventure, it lacks the epic scale, emotional depth and (mostly) subtle sense of overall direness or impending tragedy but uses being more consistently lighthearted as a boon with extremely endearing characters as well as consistently wildly entertaining plot and dialogue.
The blu ray itself doesn't leave much to be desired. Great picture, great casts for the Japanese and English language tracks, and multiple subtitle options for the sub and dub. There isn't quite as much special feature material as some of the other Gkids Ghibli movie releases, but I found most of what is included to be an interesting watch and short enough to be digestible immediately after having finished the main movie.
A fun tangent from the traditional Ghibli formulas
The animation is amazing, the story is kind of silly in the best way, the characters are likeable and even the English dub isn't half-bad! You can't complain when Anne Hathaway, Tim Curry, Cary Elwes and Peter Boyle are in the same movie. Oh, and Andy Richter, too. And for Ghibli fans expecting a Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata masterpiece, give Hiroyuki Morita a chance! I'd definitely say this much more light-hearted film than most Ghibli productions not quite as epic feeling, a little more in line with a Disney movie (which it is, even if only in "presented to American audiences by..." sort of way).
This review is from The Cat Returns [2 Discs] [Blu-ray/DVD]