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Of all the movies I was going to see for Miyazaki Mania, this is probably the one I was looking forward to seeing the least. That being said, I think this is a really great movie. The story centres around a girl named Haru who, after saving the life of a cat who turns out o be a prince, is ordered to come to the cat kingdom to become the bride of that prince, whereupon she goes to seek help at the ‘cat business’ office where she meets Toto, a crow gargoyle with a soul; Muto, a fat cat with a rude mouth; and, Baron, a gentlemen toy cat with a soul, who is the favourite character of pretty much every girl who has seen this movie – well, at least that’s what I hear. Haru gets captured however, and its up to Baron, Muto, Toto and an old friend of Haru’s to get her back to the human world before she is trapped in the cat kingdom forever.

Believe me, it’s a lot better than it sounds. Surprisingly, the whole cat kingdom thing is much more believeable that it might seem. They make it very clear that the cats from this Kingdom are very different from the cats in our world. Though, admittedly once we get to the cat kingdom, we don’t see that much of it. Usually Miyazaki films are really great at showing off the world that they’ve created, but it just seems to go by really fast.

If I were to make one complaint about the film, I’d say that it is too short. It’s only an hour and 15 minutes but it feels shorter which normally I wouldn’t have a problem with, but I feel like there’s a lot more that could have been explored in this movie.
One of my favourite parts of the entire movie is the scene with my three favouriete characers Toto, Nuto and Baron. They are all really funny and all have really great chemistry with one another. But that is the only scene like that in the entire movie. In fact, Toto disappears for about 30 minutes of the film. Admittedly, they do get a lot done in a short time and to the film’s credit it never feels rushed, it just feels fast.

Another slight problem I have with the film is just how much whimsical stuff they throw at us. I know the basic premise going into this movie – cats can stand up on two legs, they can speak, they wear clothes, apparently they can cook, weald swords and create dynamite with wireless controllers. (Seriously, I’m not kidding there is a scene where the cat king presses a button and a tower just blows up - -it was the weirdest thing.) So going into this movie I didn’t mind the cat weirdness. I mean, the wolves in Princess Momonoke spoke without moving their mouths, if I can put up with that I can put up with this. But it also turns out that sometimes, statues or figures of animals can get souls and become real - AND it also turns out that the king can use giant use disembodied eyeballs to spy on the kingdom, AND it also turns out that if you stay too long in the cat kingdom you become a cat, AND it turns out that objects tha have souls attached to them can not only walk around and talk they can also talk to animals and to humans as well. To me, that was just a lot of stuff to process. I mean, somebody told me that the king of cats is also a wizard and that’s why he can use they disembodied eyeballs, but dude, that fact that he is king of cats is enough, you don’t need to add wizard to that.

Something you always have to talk about in a Miyazaki film are the characters, because he always gets them right. Admittedly, Haru our main character is nothing special, but it is not that she is a bad character it’s just that there is nothing new about her. But its a Miyazaki movie. The focus of the movie is only 40 percent the main character and 60 percent the world. And the characters from that world are great. I said before that Toto, Muto and Baron are awesome characters. Toto is really funny. Especially when he’s finding with Muto. But when he really shines, is in the flying scene about a third of the way through the movie. Even though it only lasts only about two minutes, this chase scene left a huge impression on me. Mostly because Toto looked awesome. Muto, the mostly comic relief character, does have very strong character as well. He’s not just the guy who makes you laugh. He is a character first and a comedic foil second. That being said he is hilarious and he was probably my favourite character in the movie though that’s mostly due to the scene with Toto.

I went into this movie thinking I was going to hate Baron since usually the character I hate most in a movie is the flawless white knight who just says all the right things, does all the right things and is a complete badass - though that actually that is half of the fun of this character. A lot of people find Baron really cool, but they don’t find him that funny, but for me what makes him so funny is the fact that he is so cool. He just knows what to do in every situation and admittedly I found that really funny. He’s like James Bond – he can pretty much do anything - - anything that will benefit him. Those are he characters that stood out to me in this movie. A lot of other characters were good too. The prince has a pretty cool design; the king is enjoyably crazy; and the cat with the pink blush has some pretty funny lines.
I should say that I saw the subtitled version not the dubbed one – and the voice actors were great. The best of which being Baron who just sounds ridiculously awesome. Seriously, this guy could read me the Oxford dictionary and I would listen. His voice is just that entertaining.
If I were to make two final criticisms they are, one, that the moral isn’t particularly strong – at least in my opinion. The moral of the story is sort of ‘find who you truly are’, but I didn’t think that was particularly strongly conveyed. The person I went with gave me a pretty good explanation for it, so I guess this complaint is more of a nitpick. But this next thing isn’t. Why is it called The Cat Returns? The title just doesn’t make sense. In the movie there is one cat from Haru’s past whom she sees again and that may have been a good reason to call it The Cat Returns, but that cat doesn’t return to her, she goes to the cat. In fact, she doesn’t even go directly to the cat, it is just a coincidence that they meet up. Still, that can’t completely take away from the fact that this is one of the better Miyazaki movies. It is really funny, really fast-paced and has some surprisingly dark humour in it. So, overall I would definitely recommend The Cat Returns. Stay tuned for more Miyazaki Mania.




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monkeyface said...
Mar. 29, 2012 at 9:00 am:
Fabulous review.  makes me want to see the film.  Thanks. 
 
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drnova said...
Mar. 28, 2012 at 4:19 pm:
special thank's to andrea murphy
 
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