Haru was having one bad day (well, according to a teenager)- late to class and found out her crush, a fellow classmate, had a girlfriend. When she discovered that a cat was about to get run over, she saved him without a second thought. The cat thanked her, but she soon regretted it when she was showered with gifts from his father, king of the cat kingdom. When she showed her disgust, as mice, cattails (which she was allergic to), and catnip aren’t great gifts, the king proposed that she marry his son and become a princess. While she pondered for a quick minute, she refused and sought help from the Cat Bureau. The Bureau promised to protect Haru, but the kingdom found her and dragged her away.
The Cat Returns is another Studio Ghibli film, so you know it’s going to be good. This ties in with another film that Ghibli made, Whisper of the Heart, but if you don’t pay attention to that movie, you won’t recognize it. Anyway, this is one of my favorites in terms of plot and dialogue. It may seem basic, but it’s just so charming. The characters are all likable in their own way, including the “villains”. In fact, Baron Humbert von Gikkingen (voiced by the wonderful Cary Elwes) is one of my favorite characters EVER. I think the choice of being his voice actor brought the comparison to his character in The Princess Bride with him, which is fitting. You’ll feel weird if you develop a crush on him, because he’s a catman. Mancat. Something.
Walt Disney handled the dubbing for this too, and you can tell they spared no expense. However, this is the one negative I really see about this film. The voice actors are either perfect for their roles, or completely off. Cary Elwes is perfect- Anne Hathaway voicing Haru is far from it. I LOVE Anne Hathaway, but she didn’t fit in the movie at all; there was no real range in her voice. Tim Curry didn’t fit well as the king either. Curry was a waste of incredible talent for a minor character. However, it never bugged me to the point that I become a snob and watch it in Japanese with English subtitles (unlike another Ghibli/Disney movie, which I’ll review later).
I highly recommend The Cat Returns if you got an hour to kill- this movie is short for today’s standards, and it moves along so well it feels even shorter. It’s too charming to pass up, and unlike Pom Poko, this is safe for people of all ages to enjoy.