The Cat Returns (2002) – Hiroyuki Morita

The next film on the What Else to Watch list following my screening of Spirited Away for DK Canada’s The Movie Book is this light-hearted adventure from Studio Ghibli. Shorter than the other entries on the list, this one  is whimsical and a pleasant adventure.

The story follows young Haru, who after saving the life of an unusual cat finds her good deed rewarded in the most unexpected of ways. It seems she saved the life of a prince, and the king of Cat Kingdom, King Cat, has decided to reward her for her actions, with all manner of gifts (that only a cat would love) an invitation to visit the Cat Kingdom, and then, marry the very prince she rescued.

What started out as a fun idea, changes to something else when she realizes that if she chooses not to go, the cats will simply come and take her to the kingdom, and her nuptials seem inevitable.

When she is guided to the Cat Bureau, she meets a dapper and debonair magically imbued cat statuette, Baron, and his friends, Muta, and Toto. When she’s kidnapped anyway, her new friends race to rescue her, and remind her throughout that she needs only believe and trust in herself.


What we’re treated to is a fun adventure that not only enjoys its telling, it presents a fun world just slightly askew of our own, where cats live much like we do.

Like all Studio Ghibli films, it’s beautiful watch, but it’s also interesting to see how the character designs and animation differ from a Miyazaki film. You can still very much see the cultural styles that have influenced and grown from the anime genre, but it is its own, unique looking film, embracing the details of reality, but in this case, that reality involves talking cats.

I think of all the Studio Ghibli films I’ve watched, this one would be the one I would use for the youngest viewers, it’s story, and theme are fairly straight forward, and when they watch it and love it, you could introduce them to other Ghibli films as they grow. I love Miyazaki’s films, but they aren’t always aimed at younger viewers. This film however, is definitely one that is suitable for all ages, and has some really fun moments, and a great sense of humor.

Just over 70 minutes long, this one races along, and is bound to entertain.

I for one have to say that I have loved my time exploring the Studio Ghibli titles, and it was thanks to DK Books’ highly enjoyable The Movie Book that brought these films into my viewing wheelhouse.

Check them out, or pick up a copy of the book today, and find a new to you classic to watch tonight!



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