Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Cat Returns review

Beginning note

Today, I will review The Cat returns. This is another film by studio Ghibli. It is quite considerably newer than My neighbour Totoro and therefore came at a time when the Western world was more accepting of Japanese culture. This film was released in Japan in 2002 and in the States a year later. My favourite dub has to be the Cat King, who is dubbed by Tim Curry!

The basic introduction

Japanese film poster
The cat returns has a very Disneyesque feel to it, with an Eastern twist. The story has a plot which has conflict, which is resolved by our protagonist- a girl named Haru- fixing someone else's problem and learning that problems don't always matter so much. To be fair, it was released in the US by Disney, which may be why I think it's a bit more Disneyesque than some of Studio Ghibli's other films. The literal translation of the name of this film is The cat's repayment, which I think makes much more sense considering the content of the film- though it has been westernised, so I guess this is evidence of that.

The review

Now, considering that I made the anime society at my university watch The cat returns as an introduction to Ghibli, I guess that's what I'd describe it as. Because it has a more western feel to it than films such as My neighbour Totoro and Spirited away (which is very Japan-centric in its plot), it is an easy film to watch and relate to. There are certain parts of the film that are kinda hard to understand, but these are mostly explained later. 

Although I have mentioned that my favourite dub actor in the film is Tim Curry as the Cat King, my favourite character is actually Baron Humbert von Gikkingen, mostly because he has the coolest name in the world but also because he has a top hat. What? I like top hats!

The plot of the film is relatively simple to understand, especially when comparing it to other Ghibli films such as My neighbour Totoro. The film follows the usual situation, problem, solution system followed by most films. 

The cats in this film are adorable- mind you, I am a cat person as opposed to a dog person. They all walk on their hind legs when in the cat kingdom, showing their dominance of that area of the world. The cat kingdom itself is actually on Earth, in a place that has lakes in a cat paw shape. 

The influence that The cat returns has had on Western views of Japanese culture is not as clear-cut as with My neighbour Totoro. However, I would say that the fact Disney dealt with the film in the USA shows that the culture of Japan has indeed influenced the Western view of Japan, especially with regards to their culture.

I would advise anyone, even someone who isn't fond of anime, to watch The cat returns because it is a lot less Japanese than many other anime films. Also, it is a good film for young and less young viewers as both can relate to it- though both will probably find it confusing the first time they watch it.

In terms of art style, it's classic Miyazaki. You can tell that a lot of love and care has been taken over each character's design, as well as the plot itself. A fun film for all!


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