The Cat Returns
Marc Hairston · From fps #1 · March 1, 2005 | Of all the Studio Ghibli films Disney has released in the US (Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky, Nausicaä—finally!—and Porco Rosso) The Cat Returns is something of a stepchild. It is a Ghibli film that is not directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Conceived as a project to train and showcase the young and upcoming talent at Studio Ghibli, specifically first-time director Hiroyuki Morita, Cat was released theatrically in Japan in the summer of 2002. Okay, I'll admit it: it's not right up there with Miyazaki's films with all their nuances and depth, but there is still some real Ghibli magic here. It may be Ghibli Lite, but that beats 99% of everything else out there.

The Cat Returns
Directed by Hiroyuki Morita
Studio Ghibli/Walt Disney Home Entertainment, 2005
Originally released theatrically in 2002
75 minutes

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The story comes from a manga by Aoi Hiragi, the woman who wrote the original manga for Whisper of the Heart, the basis for the 1995 Ghibli film of the same name. The Cat Returns takes the stray cat Moon/Muta and the carved cat figurine Baron from the first story and anthropomorphizes them into a new fantasy where they help Haru, a klutzy seventeen-year-old Japanese schoolgirl. Haru saved a cat from being hit by a truck only to discover that this cat could talk when it thanked her. In fact, this was the Prince of the magical kingdom of cats, so the King of the cats decides to thank Haru by having her taken to the kingdom to marry the Prince. Never mind that Haru is human; this is a magical world, they can convert her into a cat whether she wants to be one or not.

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You'll find it and many other articles in the March 2005 issue of fps, available as a free download.
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