Directed by: Junichi Sato, Tomotaka Shibayama
Written by: Mari Okada
Starring: Mirai Shida, Natsuki Hanae, Hiroaki Ogi
Run-Time: 1h 44m
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Available on Netflix
A peculiar girl transforms into a cat to catch her crushes attention. But before she realizes it, the line between humans and animal starts to blur. (Netflix)
The trailer for A Whisker Away immediately brings you in with the visuals of a cute animated cat, but if you’re like me and only saw it in passing when browsing through Netflix. The movie is about a cute animated cat, but it’s a little more complicated than that.
A Whisker Away takes you into a whimsical world that’s softly developed in a very Ghibli-eque manner. What you find is that in this world there is a cat merchant, who, in exchange for your human face, will give you a mask that allows you to become a cat (your face is then in turn provided to a cat who is then able to take your place). Of course, you are given a trial period, so see whether you really want to be a cat. To an extent the film is reminiscent of Ghibli’s The Cat Returns, but doesn’t manage to quite hit the mark.
The film seems to be an attempt to capture the whimsy such a story told through animation can have, but falls short. It’s not easy to say where because there’s nothing blaringly wrong with the film. It’s unique, but not so unique that you can say you’ve never seen anything like it before, because you probably have. It’s beautifully animated, but doesn’t do anything special in regards to it’s animation. The characters aren’t memorable, even after watching the movie twice I can only remember two characters’ names, primarily because of how often the names were said. Otherwise, there isn’t much to say about them. The motivations for what they did was relatable, but the way they handled it wasn’t which made it hard to truly relate to them. The film wasn’t engrossing as films should be, rather than being transported to another magical world, the film feels like nothing more than… well a film. In the end, I can’t say I regret watching it, but it’s not a movie you’d be excited to watch more than once.