The Clock family are four-inch-tall people who live anonymously in another family's residence, borrowing simple items to make their home. Life changes for the Clocks when their daughter, Arrietty, is discovered.
Upon being sent to live with relatives in the countryside, an emotionally distant adolescent girl becomes obsessed with an abandoned mansion and infatuated with a girl who lives there - a girl who may or may not be real.
When an unconfident young woman is cursed with an old body by a spiteful witch, her only chance of breaking the spell lies with a self-indulgent yet insecure young wizard and his companions in his legged, walking castle.
College student Hana falls in love with another student who turns out to be a werewolf, who dies in an accident after their second child. Hana moves to the rural countryside where her husband grew up to raise her two werewolf children.
A young girl rescues a mysterious cat from traffic and soon finds herself the unwelcome recipient of gifts and favors from the King of the Cats, who also wants her to marry his son, Prince Lune. With the assistance of a fat, grouchy real cat and a an elegant cat statuette come to life (both characters featured in Studio Ghibli's earlier anime "Whisper of the Heart"), the girl visits the Cat Kingdom and narrowly escapes again. Written by
'The Cat Returns' is yet another treat produced by Studio Ghibli, the company which brought us masterpieces such as 'My Neighbour Totoro' and 'Spirited Away'.
The story of this film is much simpler than previous Studio Ghibli productions/epics with a typical modern teenage girl Haru as the heroine. When walking home from school one afternoon, Haru rescues a cat from being ran-over by a lorry only to discover she is responsible for saving the life of Prince Lune, the heir apparent to the Cat Kingdom. Lune's father, the King of Cats, promptly decides the best way to repay such a favour is for Haru to marry his son. Naturally, our heroine is horrified at the prospect and must seek protection from enigmatic Baron, founder of the Cat Bureau, for help before she is carted off to the Cat Kingdom by the very determined cats.
As a cat-lover, I found this film utterly adorable. The scene where the cats from Cat Kingdom descend on Haru's street in the middle of the night was had a very wondrous aura to it and the scene where the cats try to make Haru laugh at her feast was hilarious. The characters, as always, are solid from the refreshingly normal teen-aged Haru to the grumpy Muta to the suave Baron (even though he's an animated cat, the charisma of the character will leave many females empathising with Haru's little crush on him!).
Although the plot of 'The Cat Returns' is a simple affair so it will easily appeal to young children, there is much humour in the film that will keep older kids and adults amused. Also, those who love cats can't help but fall in love with the many feline characters we come across in the film. Now, I'm off to track down 'Whisper of the Heart', which is a 1995 Studio Ghibli film that features the character of Baron.
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