Posted by psgels on 14 November 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews


To be honest, for the past few weeks, I’ve been watching the various Ghibli-movies and while I admit that I haven’t touched the rumoured best of the bunch yet, I’ve yet to understand why people consider them as legends. At the moment, I see them more as a bunch of movie-makers who excel at realism, just like how Shaft excels in strange art-styles. The Ghibli-movies I’ve seen thus far are great, but I’ve seen many other studios with equally good or even better productions, and I’ve also yet to see a bit of really addictive storytelling mixed with their movies. Luckily, The Cat Returns changed this opinion, and showed me that Ghibli is good at more than just realism.

I went in this movie, expecting something like Sprited Away. A girl gets taken to the cat world, and needs to get out. Well, up till here, the stories match, though that’s also exactly where the similarities end. Instead, this turned into a light-hearted shoujo-adventure, with several playful jabs at despotisms. The setting is smaller than you’d expect, and it’s refreshing to see a movie that doesn’t try to be as epic as possible.

Yet, despite this, The Cat Returns actually has the above-mentioned addictive storytelling for me. This is probably the shortest major Ghibli-movie out there, with the length of just over an hour, and because of that, the pacing is a tad faster than the others. Haru, the main character, is interesting and fun to watch, the major side-characters are delightful and creative and the chemistry between the characters is genuine and excellent.

The short length is also a bad point, though. Especially the antagonists could have been more fleshed out and they seem just a bit too silly. While I believe that the creators were well aware of this problem, and I suspect that it was their intention in the beginning, I think that the scenes would have turned out even better if the evil king and his minions would have gotten a bit more development. I do appreciate how this movie managed to give an identity to the different guards that accompany the king. You rarely see that in anime.

The director for this movie is Morita Hiroyuki, the director of Bokura no and who successfully rewrote the final half of the manga into a true masterpiece, and The Cat Returns really shows the same creativity in its story. While you won’t get any of the grand plot twists of the former, you will get an addictive pacing that never turns dull and is varied enough to keep you interested. The guy is really talented at this, and for this movie, he was actually supervised by Hayao Miyazaki. If this movie took itself a bit more seriously, it would have been an epic one, but for now I’ll call this a fun and innocent way to spend an hour.

7 Responses

  1. Martin says:

    I really enjoyed The Cat Returns too. Sure, I’m a cat person anyway (currently living with three overfed and spoilt specimens right now) but it’s a really lighthearted and feelgood family movie…it’s hard to dislike really.

    The running time was a bit on the short side but then it’s probably more comfortable for youngsters to sit through without feeling bored; besides, it has that less epic vibe you mentioned, which makes it a bit more accessible. I loved the characters too: Haru’s a great protagonist, the Baron’s appearance will please Whisper of the Heart fans and the deranged Cat King is hilarious!

    All in all it’s a great debut effort from Morita…kinda hard to believe he took on an epic and angsty series like Bokurano and made such a good job of it really.

  2. asd says:

    I guess Ghibli movies were legends simply because they are, for the most part “feel good films”.
    Like Disney the directors for ghibli know how to make and direct structured stories better than anyone.

  3. marmot says:

    Spot on psgels, this film had a great shoujo atmosphere and story but so many great characters and interactions were squeezed into such a short time that it feels like it’s missing at least half an hour. Porco rosso is another ghibli film i’ve seen that has that almost but not quite a masterpiece feel to it. Still worth watching.

  4. Senna says:

    The Cat Returns didn’t match my expectations either; it felt more aimed /specifically/ at little girls than Ghibli’s other films, but I adored it nonetheless (perhaps because I am a little girl at heart who has always loved cats … ^^). Yet it still retained a quality of being enjoyable for all ages; it didn’t talk down to its audience or anything. To me, it just felt … simpler, maybe? Less epic is probably a good description too ^_^

  5. Lika says:

    I guess Ghibli movies were legends simply because they are, for the most part “feel good filmsâ€�.

    *cough*Graveyard of the Fireflies*cough*

    I mostly love their films because of the detail that goes into the art, and Spirited Away and Mononoke Hime has some of the best stories ever. The manga for Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was a lot better than the movie (because the movie only covered about a quarter of it), but I loved it nonetheless for the lack of villains and the message it gives. Besides, any movie that can make giant bugs seem cute is an awesome movie to me. xD

  6. LA says:

    I don’t understand….
    You say The Cat Returns is better than The Whisper of the Heart????

  7. psgels psgels says:

    LA: Yes, I actually enjoyed The Cat Returns more than Whisper of the Heart. It’s probably because the latter, while it has lots of realism, missed the addictive storytelling that drew me in the movie.

    Senna: True, this, along with Ocean Waves, is probably the only Ghibli-movie that isn’t aimed towards all ages. Still, I’m a fan of shoujo-stories, so I didn’t mind. ^^;

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, May 25. 2016 08:31 AM)
    Once you conversate long enough with people their appearance doesn’t matter that much anymore, but it’s undeniable that our mind creates a projected mental image of even unmet individuals, and it’s always a trip when they don’t match up with eachother. Teaches you about your own psyche and the way you process abstract information. An artifact of patterned biases.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, May 25. 2016 08:22 AM)
    Can go more Iranian with a bit of beard tho:
    http://imgur.com/I9979T0
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, May 25. 2016 08:13 AM)
    @Bam: I don’t care at all for sharing pics, but I’m unfortunately naturally douchogenic, which I blame on the weird middle eastern macho culture of stoicism and not even crackin a smile for some reason:
    http://i.imgur.com/RLA1Ieu.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/leTZ3Kj.jpg
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, May 25. 2016 08:05 AM)
    I definitely don’t look Persian, at least not in the international media sense. I’m from the north which held independence pretty much throughout history, so we’re the more pure Aryan and less Arab and Mongol influenced. We have fairer features and so.Ernie even blonde hair. But I also have a quarter of Kurd, which Saladin also was, but that’s a whole nother nest of bees.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, May 25. 2016 08:01 AM)
    That’s why I’m interested in what the Irish people think of Cassidy in the tv Preacher series: Endearing or offensive?
  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, May 25. 2016 07:26 AM)
    Okay, the spam on the primrose review is getting pretty fucking annoying. Time to clean this up.
  • Friendist
    (Tuesday, May 24. 2016 10:13 PM)
    Im very self conscious when i speak to native english speakers as you can see -_-
  • Friendist
    (Tuesday, May 24. 2016 10:11 PM)
    and of course being in southern sweden i studied vocabulary through the universal english accent at my schools so in America I feel out of place with my weird combination of Swedish intonation and English pronunciations.
  • Friendist
    (Tuesday, May 24. 2016 10:07 PM)
    @Kaiser When I was in Belfast in 2014 I was surprised to hear lots of scottish sounding accents. I expected their accents to be more english compared to Dublin but it was funny to hear what to me sounded like a mix of scottish-irish accents.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, May 24. 2016 12:17 PM)
    I hear other Dublin Irish accents and they sound foreign to mine, I don’t have a yob/chav voice.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Flying witch – 07

One of the thing that Flying witch always does it right is how it establish the chemistry between any characters, while at the same time maintain the consistency in their personalities. It feels like if you give them any random characters in any random situation, pretty much the show can hit it off. Last week […]

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 08

I feel bad for the artists and animators who made the opening and ending for this show as they don’t seem to be getting much use. Not that I am complaining of course as if the choice is between a catchy theme song and more content then content wins every time. Though it is a […]

Kiznaiver – 07

To some this may be the strongest episode of Kiznaiver to date. However to someone like myself I find myself mixed on what I just witnessed. I have said before that what I like about this series are the aspects which are distinctly Trigger which would be it’s sense of wacky humor and character chemistry. […]

Mayoiga – 08

Again this week Mayoiga succeed at bringing a big screw-you to us audience. The cliffhanger last week is quickly revealed, and we come to learn that Masaki is not a ghost, nor is she a witch, but simply that… she had visited the Lost Village before. Big surprise! It really is a ridiculous anti-climax, but […]

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – 06

If you haven’t heard by now, the second season of Attack on Titan has been delayed till 2017 because Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is far too awesome for Studio Wit to handle in a single year. I really couldn’t care less about the delay since I already know what’s going to happen in season […]

Bungou Stray Dogs – 07

This week the plot revolving the Azure King was resolved and it raises the conflict of sense of justice between Dazai and Kunikida. Like what I suspected last week, all the new characters are in play in this episode and now I get the hang of Bungou Stray Dogs storytelling now. The new characters will […]

Joker Game – 07

You know, I am beginning to wonder just how do those lessons go at the D-Agency. Is it something like “Ok, class. Today I will teach you how to summon dolphins with a whistle. After that we will go over the magic rituals of Aleister Crowley and finally have a refresher on the finer points […]

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress OST Review

This will be the first time in my anime blogging career that I have ever done one of these anime OST review. It should be known that I have a complete bias for Hiroyuki Sawano as he has become one of the biggest composer for anime in recent years in some of my favorite anime […]

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 07

A certain criticism has loomed over this series from its very inception. As the series continued people have asked the question “How can Subaru brush off his horrific deaths so easily?” Today we have the answer to that question and that answer is that he doesn’t. It’s been building incognito in the background all this […]

Latest Reviews

Schwarzesmarken – 65/100

Schwarzesmarken is a strange title in that it has a setting with fantastic potential yet the story is dampened by a rushed pacing and Missing characterisation. Despite this there are signs of a greater story under the hood and at times that story can shine despite haphazard adaption. The Stasi make for a great villain […]

Boku dake ga Inai Machi – 85/100

In the large reservoir of anime it is surprising just how few titles focus on the concept of time travel. There are of course titles which feature time travel but few that make it the core focus. So here we have Boku Machi or ERASED, a tale about a mangaka time traveling to his childhood […]

Gangsta. – 58/100

Gangsta is an anime with a lot of things going for it. A mature cast, gritty themes, a interesting setting and a trio of main characters who can carry the show. However due to a number of factors it never quite reached its potential. The main trio of characters are unconventional and quite interesting with […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 80/100

Gakkou is one with a good facade as promotional material would have you believe it was some dime a dozen moe slice of life. I was one who wasn’t fooled by the cute cuddly exterior but I was truly surprised with just how good this anime ended up being. Gakkou is one of those rare […]

Little Witch Academia The Enchanted Parade – 81/100

I wonder when it was that a film being childish became a flaw. As a medium grows it takes steps to aim to mature itself and seek a more intellectual level of presenting entertainment. Animation did it as Anime aimed to explore terrontry that cartoons refuse to explore and video games only recently broke away […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks Review – 85/100

For a long time now this adaption has been the dreams of many a Fate fan with many believing it would never come to pass, but now that it is here is it everything that we dreamed? Short answer to this is no, long answer is nearly. I feel this show will have many divided […]

Shirobako Review – 80/100

When you see a harem anime and sigh as the breasts of the female lead jiggle with every step and wind that can flip a skirt it’s easy to forget that somewhere in Japan a group of people worked hard to get that jiggle right and draw each frame of animation. The hardships of the […]

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]