Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Cat Returns

Over the weekend, I watched The Cat Returns, an anime by the same creators who made the very charming and heart-warming My Neighbour Totoro, and the stunningly fantastical Spirited Away.

The Cat Returns is quite charming too.

It is about an ordinary school girl who saves the life of an extraordinary cat. In return for her good deed, she gets rewarded with catnip, a lawn covered in cattails, box-wrapped mice, etc, by all the neighbourhood cats.

Suddenly, she gets whisked away to The Kingdom Of The Cats where she is to be married off to the Cat Prince, whose life she had saved.

All this is done against the poor girl's will, of course.

So you get the idea... I won't say much more. I don't want to give too much away.

You'll get to meet some pretty fascinating characters. There is a Phileas Fogg-Zorro type of cat called The Baron.

The Baron looks and acts very much like Phileas Fogg...

... but is capable of pulling off the most amazing Zoro-like stunts.

There is also a fat, cranky, smug cat called Muta...

... who proves to be quite the comic relief and an equally agile stuntsman.

But, first... you'll have to get past the stereotypical portrayal of the goodies and the baddies, the commoners and the royal folk.

Let me ask you... what's wrong with the picture below?

In this anime, The King is a Persian cat, his Advisor is a Siamese... but the servants carrying the King are all Tabby cats.

Even the starving stray, who grows up and ends up marrying the Prince, is a pure white cat with blue eyes.
So you get the sense that only pretty cats enjoy the good life.

But, if you can put that aside, you'll enjoy this anime movie greatly.

Just one suggestion... I highly recommend watching The Cat Returns, and any other anime movie for that matter, in the original Japanese language with the relevant subtitling for you.

Whatever language you may speak, please watch this in Japanese and NOT in its translated version.

Somehow, after translation, the whole feel of the original movie is somewhat changed.

The changes in the wordings of the sentences end up altering the intended mood, and the alternate actors' voices just can't capture the same energy and innocence as the Japanese actors.

While My Neighbour Totoro still remains my absolute favourite anime, The Cat Returns has its place on my shelf of Most-Watched Lazy-Sunday DVDs.
I know you'll enjoy this.

~5-Cat Style


Bonnie Underfoot said...

We saw Howl's Moving Castle in Japanese with subtitles, and even though I couldn't understand the spoken words, it was better than the stilted translations I've heard of other Japanese movies. In my mind, the voices blended with the words I read, as if they had spoken English. However, my Boy (11y) wouldn't be able to keep up.

auntie p said...

I have watched The Cat Returns, Totoro (my favourite) and most of the anime by Ghibli Studios - in Japanese. ;) Seeing the characters speak American-accented English is just too strange.

The Cat Returns is nice, although not the most memorable, IMO. The most touching one would be Grave of the Fireflies - it's an anime that makes one cry. :P

kuro.shiro.neko said...

the chinese version is closer to its japanese original version, to me. forget the horrid english translation!

you have Spritited Away? can borrow? the shops dont sell it anymore... :(((

cat_aunty said...

Another good one is Kiki Delivery Service, about the witch. She has a spunky black cat. Of course my favorite is Totoro, followed by Spirited Away.

=^..^= said...

Hi Bonnie, is Howl's Moving Castle good? Was thinking of getting that to watch.

Hi Auntie P, yes... I've heard a lot of rave reviews for Grave Of The Fireflies. I hope I can find a copy of that to add to my meagre collection.

Hi Kuro.Shiro.Neko, of course I'll be happy to lend you my copy of Spirited Away. In Capitol Centre (beside Peninsula Plaza), there's a music CD shop called Gramophone. You can find lots of anime treasures at really great prices. They have quite a number of copies of Spirited Away stashed there.

Hi Cat Aunty, oooh... sounds like I must get my hands on Kiki's Delivery Service too. Like you and Auntie P, Totoro is right at the top for me. :) I love it, love it, love it!

~5-Cat Style

husky9 said...

i love miyazaki's work, especially totoro, princess mononoke, Grave of the Fireflies and Pom Poko.
Somehow in almost every Studio Ghibli works, there is always a neko.

KXBC said...

I think The Cat Returns was done by the disciple rather than the Master. That's why there is a bit of difference when you compare it to the other works like Totoro.

My fav is Totoro followed by Princess Monoke. A funny one is the Li Mao one about racoons.

One thing I like about his works is that it is always about children and his leads are always cute chubby little girls (and that explains why I like girl cats more).

Auntie P, you said that you cried watching Grave of the Fireflies. I think that was pretty common. I think I am the only one who did not sympathise with the characters cos my view is that if that country (Cty A) chose to attack another country (Cty B) for no other reason other than greed, then what about the suffering of those innocent citizens of Cty B, whose country have been invaded and are also suffering, if not worse. I think I am so going to get lynched for this. :)

Victor Tabbycat said...

Mom says Howl's Moving Castle was furry good. She liked it better than The Castle in the Air(?). Now we gots to see The Cat Returns and Totoro.

kuro.shiro.neko said...

Kiki's Delivery Service or 魔女の宅急便 (majo no takkyubin) is very good, especially if you like cats..

The black cat is Jiji, who is my favourite, and I got lots of his photos from my last trip.

Thanks for the Gramaphone tip!

kuro.shiro.neko said...

kxbc, actually, i wasnt touched by the grave of the fireflies too, for some strange reason.. so that makes 2 of us? ;)

were you referring to the tanukis in 平成狸合戦ぽんぽこ / Heisei Tanuki Gassen Pompoko (1994)?

auntie p said...

kxbc, you're right about the war politics and that all the common folks suffer no matter which c'try attacked which first. Actually, my simple mind didn't think in that "macro" way as you did when I watched the show.:b I was just so sad that nobody would help the 2 kids, not even their own relatives, that they ended up the way they did (will not reveal too much here).

Then I asked myself, if I were in a war, hungry and had only 2 peanuts left, and a stranger beg me for 1 peanut. Would I still give 1 to him, or do I save it for myself? (metaphorically using peanuts as e.g. *tongue in cheek*)

auntie p said...

Husky is right. Cats always feature in the Ghibli Studios works...they seem to play a significant role in the Jap culture.

This reminds me of one anime whereby this teenage gal kept following this cat up the sloping terrain until she found this home with lots of artwork/antiques inside...there might have been some violin-making talent involved (or am I getting mixed up?)...now what's that one called? *ponders*

kuro.shiro.neko said...

auntie p, that one is "whisper of the heart". and yes, there was a cat that the girl followed :)

it was a heartwarming story...

=^..^= said...
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=^..^= said...

Interesting that you brought that up, Auntie P, because The Cat Returns is some kind of a sequel to Whisper Of The Heart.

The Baron and Muta are returning characters... hence the title The Cat Returns.

And if you watch the DVD version of The cat Returns, it has a segment showing you how the film was made, the actors behind the voices, etc... they actually show this one stray cat that is pretty much the living version of Muta. The production crew studied him to help bring Muta to life.

What made me smile was a snippet of a footage showing someone opening the door for the cat and he slowly struts in. The narrator explains that this cat walks in and out of the studio as if he owned it. :)

~5-Cat Style

kuro.shiro.neko said...

actually the cat returns means the cat (that blue prince) returns to "return a favour", as the original title, 猫の恩返し.

but it's interesting that you said it's a sequel to whisper of the heart.

hmm.. actually now that you mentioned, the 2 girls, Haru (The Cat Returns) and Shizuku (Whisper) are both procrasinators, who later got enlightened.

I've finally found and got Spirited Away! :)))

=^..^= said...

Haha! Good for you, Kuro.shiro.neko! Did you get it at Capitol Centre or some place else?

And thanks for explaining the title. My Mandarin is terribly poor. The only character I recognise is 猫 (for my non-Chinese friends, that is the Chinese character for 'cat', pronounced as 'mao').

~5-Cat Style

kuro.shiro.neko said...

i got it from Gramophone at OUB Centre. for those looking for Spirited Away or The Cat Returns, VCD and DVD versions are available there. of course, the DVD versions have more titles like Kiki's Delivery Service, My Neighbour Totoro, etc.

husky9 said...

hi all,

Sadly, there has been lots of imitation works (piracy)of miyazaki's work, especially on TOTORO stuff toys. Anyways, heres a reliable source if you want to buy Studio Ghibli's dvd that has proper english subtitle...MADMAN who owns the rights to distribute in Australia, www.madman.com.au
One thing great about them is that they do intense research so in the extra, they will explain some japanese culture in order for foreigners to have a better understanding. I highly reccommend them, as I previously went to HK and bought a HK distributed version which was badly subtitle. So, when i discovered Madman version, I was really impressed with their effort.

=^..^= said...

Hi Husky9,

I know what you mean about bad titling. My DVD version of Totoro has its subtitles placed higher than they should be, so it's annoying when the words keep eating into the characters' faces.

~5-Cat Style

moot said...

Buena Vista is the distributor of Studio Ghibli stuff for most countries, including here. If you get hold of something from them quality is pretty much assured. (Tho I'd admit Ghibli bootlegs tend to get better QC even from pirates >_>)

Whoever mentioned Pompoko is teh winner. Watch that instead of "Over the Hedge".

coboypb said...

Nice to read discussion about nice anime. I enjoyed watching Howl's moving castle when it was screened last year. I think I have also watched Totoro and Spirited away some time back on vcd borrowed from a friend. Shall visit Gramophone one day and maybe buy some of Miyazaki's works to keep and watch whenever I feel like it :)

KXBC said...

ksn, I think you are right with the Jap title for the racoon anime. It's so funny. You have to watch it. I've finished all his works up to Spirited Away (not very entertaining for me).

I think my collection is in Cantonese and it's quite well dubbed over. The HK sound actors/actresses are quite good. I don't mind those dubbed over in Taiwan too. A good example is Lar Bi Xiao Xin. But I just can't get over those which are dubbed in China. It just sounds very weird hearing heavily Beijing accent coming from the characters' mouths.

KXBC said...

Aunty P, I am just too cynical for my own good. Even my ex-colleague said that about me.

Timmy said...

This sounds awesome! I wonder where I could find it here in USA... hmm...certainly not at the library, they don't carry anime that I'm aware of...although, I'm just a cat. Momma goes there though. I liked that you suggest watching it in it's original language. Momma does too! That's how we watch all foreign movies. Our favorite is Amelie...if you can get past the "ahem" scenes, it's beautifully done and I enjoy the mewsic!

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