The Order of Ghiblis #03 - The Cat Returns
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The Cat Returns (2002)
After helping a cat, a seventeen-year-old 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.
The Cat Returns is the only full sequel that Studio Ghibli has done, if you can call it a sequel even. One of the main cat characters in this movie, The Baron, is a statue that is referenced in Whisper of the Heart, and that's about it really. The movie follows Haru, a young school girl who helps a cat from being run over, the cat tries to return the favour by showering her in cat gifts, and then eventually taking her to an alternate cat world and trying to marry her off.
For cat lovers (that's us!) it has plenty of fun and cute bits in all the way through, the cats are both incredibly well animated and are so full of life both when acting as cats and then when acting in a more human way.
The animation is great overall and the music is good without being outstanding. The movie is quite short so doesn't feel too much like it gets going before it's resolved. The main issue really is the plot which is quite weak. The cute moments and fun cat characters keep you entertained, and after our first viewing around release I remember it landing much better, but on this viewing (and honestly, by paying more attention) you can tell it's quite shallow, and a bit of an oddity on the Ghibli catalogue.
Is it better than Arrietty? We believe so, but only just. It's fun in places and doesn't out stay it's welcome, it's worth watching and if you've seen Whisper of the Heart then the couple of nods to it are cool. Arrietty is good in similar ways, but we think the plot of this marginally outweighed it.
However it is definitely not a better movie than it's predecessor, with the characters in Whisper being more interesting, relatable, and with more heart. The Cat Returns doesn't get close to it in terms of being a complete movie. So it stops after moving up one slot to land at #2 !
And with that:
NEW FULL ORDER
Whisper of the Heart
[NEW] The Cat Returns