The Cat Returns: Review/Synopsis
The latest movie from the production line of Studio
Ghibli, Neko no Ongaeshi is a light-hearted
movie as digestible as chicken soup. Directed by
Morita Hiroyuki, the movie is based on the manga
Baron, Neko no Danshaku by Hiiragi Aoi, who is
also the author of Mimi wo Sumaseba and its
sequel Mimi wo Sumaseba: Shiawase na Jikan.
Neko no Ongaeshi is similar to the
critically-acclaimed movie Sen to Chihiro no
Kamikakushi by Miyazaki Hayao in the sense that it
begins in normal Japan and shifts to a parallel world
later in the story. There, the similarity stops and a
whole new adventure begins.
The story is about a typical Japanese girl Haru who
seems to have a nack in getting into mishaps. One day,
she saves a cat from being run over by a truck. The
cat turns out to be the prince of the Cat Kingdom and,
in return of the favor, the king has decreed that the
whole kingdom tries its best to repay her kindness.
Unfortunately for her, none of the 'gifts' were
fitting for a human, and to add to her troubles, she
was also decreed to be married to the prince that she
The movie in general borders along humor and fantasy,
leaning more towards the former. Haru's naiveness and
the antics of the cats will definitely put a smile and
a laugh into your mouth. No one is evil and there are
no bad guys. In fact, the worst character is simply an
over-eccentric father whose acts seem to be more on
the naughty side than evil.
The storyline is simple yet entertaining, the
animation splendid as is the trademark of Studio
Ghibli. The music is enlightening, although one might
notice, if observant enough, that some of the music
pieces are recycled from the movie Mimi wo Sumaseba.
The theme song, done by Tsuji Ayano, has such a great
feel-good factor that it will remain playing in your
head long after you come out of the theatre.
It's hard not to like this movie, and although it is
definitely not in the same level as movies like
Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa and Tenkuu no Shiro
Laputa, you definitely would not want to miss this
movie either. If may not be a Miyazaki movie, but it
is still a Ghibli movie, and that alone is reason
enough to watch it.