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The Cat Returns (2002)
"Neko no ongaeshi" (original title)

G  |   |  Animation, Adventure, Comedy  |  19 July 2002 (Japan)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 27,728 users  
Reviews: 73 user | 63 critic

After helping a cat, a young girl finds herself involuntarily engaged to a cat prince in a magical world where her only hope of freedom lies with a dapper cat statuette come to life.



(comic "Neko no Danshaku, Baron"), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Chizuru Ikewaki ...
Haru (voice)
Yoshihiko Hakamada ...
Baron (voice)
Yuki (voice)
Lune (voice)
Hitomi Satô ...
Hiromi (voice)
Kenta Satoi ...
Natori (voice)
Mari Hamada ...
Natoru (voice)
Tetsu Watanabe ...
Muta (voice)
Yôsuke Saitô ...
Toto (voice)
Kumiko Okae ...
Haru's Mother (voice)
Tetsurô Tanba ...
Cat King (voice)
Yô Ôizumi ...
Additional Voices (voice)
Youko Honna ...
Chika (voice)
Additional Voices (voice)
Haru (voice)


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 castipiani

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Journey to another land. See more »


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

19 July 2002 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

O Reino dos Gatos  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$522,911 (France) (1 August 2003)


$522,911 (France) (1 August 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Took three years to complete. See more »


In the beginning when Haru is on the roof and a volleyball hits her head, you see there is a door on the same "floor" they are on. At the end, you see that the door has moved up one level. See more »


Haru: Thank you, Moo-ta...
Muta: What? 'Moo'? So now you're saying I'm a fat cow?
Haru: No! You're just fat... Oh!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits have a series of still images from the film. The last image before the film fades is Haru feeding the small white kitten on the pavement. See more »


References Labyrinth (1986) See more »


Kaze Ni Naru
Written by Ayano Tsuji
Performed by Ayano Tsuji
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Not up to the usual high standard but still a fun and cute fairy tale adventure
25 October 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Haru is down on her luck. She feels picked on at school, unable to get her life together or even talk to the boy she likes. When she sees a cat crossing the road and stuck in the path of a lorry, she acts quickly to rescue it only for it to stand up and thank her! Haru assumes she has just gone mad but when she tells her mother she is reminded of a similar incident in Haru's childhood where she maintained she was able to understand what a kitten was saying. Regardless, Haru tries to just forget the whole thing but later that night she is visited by the King of Cat Kingdom, The Cat King. Apparently the cat Haru saved was the King's son Lune and she learns that she has been rewarded with marriage to Lune – not that she wants it. Her only help is the Cat Bureau managed by the dashing and debonair Baron.

It is a problem that I bet we wish that we all had in our jobs – the problem that our "normal" standards are so high that anything less than brilliant is perceived as being disappointing. This appears to be the case with Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli simply because it is not as poetic and epic as Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky and others. For those that consider that "it is not perfect" is the same as "it is not any good" then by all means avoid this film but personally I found it an enjoyable little fantasy that I can only imagine children will love. True the story lacks the emotional depth that I wanted it to have but it makes up for it with a good narrative, imagination and some nice humour. All of these combine to produce an enjoyable little fairy tale set in the real world and the cat kingdom. It is very short but then that suited the material.

The animation does not compare to the sheer magnificence to be found in some of Ghibli's finest films but it is still wonderfully cute – although I gave a copy of this to my girlfriend, I avoided watching it with her so that I wouldn't have to cope with her screams of delight at each individual cat on the screen. The English voice cast is also good and they bring out the fun in the dialogue. Hathaway is a good lead – as cute as her character and not labouring under forced depth. Ewles is a perfect Baron and his voice is smooth as you can imagine. Likewise Boyle is a great bit of casting and Gould is a welcome presence even if he has comparatively few lines. Curry is a bit of a disappointment considering how his voice is usually very distinctive but others in the support cast are solid enough.

Those looking for something that can stand alongside the beauty and depth of some of the best films from Ghibli will be disappointed but that is not the same as the film being rubbish. Rather it is a breezy and entertaining film with a fun adventure plot. The animation is very cartoony but this shouldn't matter as it is likely that children will love it. The characters lack depth but work on the level they are drawn while the important ones of Baron and Haru are engaging. Not everything has to be a classic – this isn't but it is fun which was enough for me.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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