The Cat Returns, film by Hayao Miyazaki
Without a doubt Hayo Miyazaki remains one of the most brilliantly creative animators of all time. Surely you’ve seen his more popular films like ’My neighbour Totoro’ and ’Spirited away’, full of exquisite zany characters and worlds. However each and every single one of his films brilliantly strike an insatiable chord with the audience. It doesn’t matter if the characters are witches or dragon- he keeps them real and grounded as if they really exist among us. Relatable yet interesting characters drive the story forward and have you hooked to this dystopian world.
’The Cat Returns’ is probably Studio Ghibli’s most underrated work. I’m sure many did not enjoy it’s lighthearted approach or the lack of theme and take away however I see it differently, in fact it’s lighthearted best is what makes it brilliantly humorous and quirky. There were many positives, especially impressive was the English dubbing as a whole which was very strong. All of the voices fit the characters well and there were several standouts in the voice cast particularly Tim Curry as The Cat King. The film is consistently very funny and keeps you engaged. Studio Ghibli films are generally not known for their comedy but rather their surreal nature of the plot. The strong character personalities make this a highly entertaining film from beginning to end. The Cat Returns is highly imaginative and moves by at a brisk pace. While The cat returns is mainly a fantasy comedy the film manages to have some sweet and touching moments without getting overly sentimental. The music score is extremely moving and simply listening to it sends you straight back to childhood nostalgia.The Cat Returns, also known to some as “Neko no Ongaeshi” is a family friendly film, Appropriate for everyone! After 9 months of extreme brutal work Hiroyuki Mortia’s labor paid off!
As a cat-lover, I found this film utterly adorable. The scene where the cats from Cat Kingdom descend on Haru’s street in the middle of the night had a very surreal aura to it and the scene where the cats try to make Haru laugh at her feast was hilarious. The characters, as always, are solid from the refreshingly normal teen-aged Haru to the grumpy Muta to the suave Baron (even though he’s an animated cat, the charisma of the character will leave many females empathising with Haru’s little crush on him!). Sure, this isn’t one of Studio Ghibli’s epic tales but it’s beautifully simple and the visuals stay with you deeply. People who enjoyed “Whisper of the Heart” may be pleased to see the return of the Baron in a much larger role. Many regard this as one of Studio Ghibli’s less quality films however I most certainly disagree and would encourage any fantasy lover to watch this. The creativity in the work is undeniable. This is director Hiroyuki Morita’s only film to date but on the strength of this I’m hoping he will be directing further Studio Ghibli projects.
The Cat returns is surely something you may not expect, there are several moments you feel like the lead, ’Haru’ has no growth in character and the cats simply come across as wicked however not all stories have to take the expected direction. It’s important to embrace these imperfect characters. Both Muta and the Baron we’re truly compelling and wonderfully crafted. This Comedy of errors takes a few interesting twists and turns through the plot, you never quite know what’s coming next and that’s what really draws you in.It is let down by some missed opportunities but it still remains Studio Ghibli’s funniest film and one that I would return to again.