Japanese Title: Neko no Ongaeshi
Release: 20 July 2002
Running time: 75 minutes
Director: Hiroyuki Morita
Original manga: Aoi Hiiragi
Script: Reiko Yoshida
Music: Yuuji Nomi
Character design: Satoko Morikawa
Plot: (from Wikipedia)
The story follows a girl called Haru, a quiet and unassuming schoolgirl who has a long-suppressed ability to talk to cats. One day she saves a cat from being hit by a truck on a busy road. The cat turns out to be Lune, Prince of the Cat Kingdom. In return, the cats shower her with gifts and inform her she is to be wedded to the Prince of the Cat Kingdom.
Immersed in desperation over this unwanted development, Haru hears a kind female voice which tells her to seek out the Cat Bureau. Haru meets Muta, who leads her there to meet the Baron and Toto. Soon after meeting them, Haru and Muta are taken to the Cat Kingdom by force, leaving Toto and the Baron in the human world; but the two follow them and finally find the entrance to the Cat Kingdom on Earth – five lakes forming a cat’s paw.
Haru is invited to a feast at the castle of the Cat Kingdom and she begins to slowly turn into a cat. At the feast, the Baron (in disguise) dances with Haru as part of the entertainment, before being discovered. They are helped by Yuki, a snow-white female cat who works as a servant in the palace and who had tried to warn Haru to leave the Cat Kingdom. Haru, the Baron and Muta’s escape leads them through a maze to a tower, which contains a portal back into Haru’s world.
Lune and his guards return to the Cat Kingdom to discover the King was not acting on his behalf and he has no desire to marry Haru, having instead planned on proposing to Yuki; also, Muta is revealed to be a notorious criminal in the Kingdom (having devoured a whole lake of fish in one session), and Yuki as being the strange voice who’d advised Haru to go to the Cat Bureau. In her childhood Haru had saved Yuki from starvation by giving her the fish cookies she was eating, and Yuki has now repaid her in kind.
Eventually Haru, Muta and the Baron escape, with the aid of Prince Lune and Toto, and Haru discovers her true self and her affection for the Baron.
It bored me out. I almost fell asleep without knowing how it will end. I wonder if it was any good in the manga? Well, it was from the same person who actually did Mimi o Sumaseba…and yet… ermm…
Is it really Ok to have a crush on a cat like that? I mean, even if he was cool the Baron is still a cat, and I still think the idea is absurd. Well, I appreciate that it is an adventure story, like almost all other Ghibli films…but this particular movie isn’t really comparable to Spirited Away or Howl’s Moving Castle in terms of excitement and degree of adventure. I think maybe it was a forced to be made, because of Whispers of the Heart, where the Baron initially made an appearance. (I think Muta and Moon are the same characters, it’s just that Moon is sort of grey and Muta is white). The cats are cute though, and it’s something funny for a cat hater like me to say it. (I am afraid of cats, maybe that’s the better way to put it.)
I don’t want to sound biased, I was also looking forward to watching this film, and I was thinking about it the whole day but when I finally did I was disappointed. So based on the plot (with spoilers in it) and my comment it’s really up to you if you’d still be interested in checking out.