I believe the reason why I never heard of The Cat Returns (suggested to me by a young anime lover in my church named Sophia) is because it did not get the notice that it’s predecessor, the masterpiece Spirited Away, had gotten. It is a shame, because this film is very good.
It tells the story of a schoolgirl named Haru (Anne Hathaway), who is a kind hearted soul who just does not seem to have any luck. One day, she saves a cat from the street (in an awesome slow motion shot) and, to her surprise, the cat thanks her. Later that night, she awakens to see the Cat King, who informs her the cat she had saved was his son. The next day, she awakens to gifts of thanks that are kind hearted, but not well thought out.
Like any animated film, one of the main strengths is the characters, especially the supporting ones. There is the Baron, who is so perfectly played by Cary Elwes that we are convinced no one else could play him. Elliot Gould plays a crow named Toto with crisp delivery, but the scene stealer is the late great Peter Boyle as Muta, an overweight cat you would be advised not to call fat. It made me realize how much I do miss Boyle.
Parents, there is one scene that shows a female cat losing her dress, but it is mainly played for laughs. That being said, this film is for any age. The problem with the film is the editing. At times, the screen would go to black, and I thought I was watching a film made for TV. The film also seems to be too short. At only 75 minutes, I truly wanted more.
In short, the film is not the best of Studio Ghibli’s such as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, or Princess Mononoke. Still, The Cat Returns is one worth searching for, anime fan or not.
Overall: Three and a Half Stars *** 1/2