Amazing! I bought this DVD ages ago, when it was released in the last wave of Disney-dubbed Studio Ghibli anime classics, but most of the previews made it seem kind of boring, like it was the least Miyazaki-like of these movies. I finally watched it, and wow, I was so wrong! The Cat Returns is simply spectacular in its creativity, and I enjoyed it so much that I think it's now my second favorite Ghibli film (after my beloved Kiki's Delivery Service!). The story is about a schoolgirl named Haru, who saves a cat from being run-over by a truck. It turns out the cat is the prince of the Kingdom of Cats, and a huge processional of kitties arrives at night to thank her and shower her with gifts - which include her actually becoming a cat and marrying the prince! She is helped by the Baron, who is actually a sophisticated (with top hat and cane) cat figurine come to life, along with a crow and a fat cat, too. This all sounds crazy in a brief synopsis, but it's actually a fantastic story, where Haru has to learn to believe in herself and enjoy the gift of life. There are many, many exciting moments that really had me on the edge of my seat, and the animation is first class! There are so many details and things in motion in the backgrounds - the kind of attention missing in most modern hand-drawn animation. The Baron and some of the other characters originally appeared in the film Whispers of the Heart, so this is kind of a sequel, but it definitely stands on its own. I also really loved the closing theme song, with its happy and peaceful lyrics, mostly accompanied by ukulele. This is definitely a movie that I'll be watching again and again!
Sorry for the short break in the Japan Journal! Stay tuned for more adventures tomorrow!