The Cat Returns (猫の恩返し , lit. The Cat’s Repayment) is a 2002 Japanese animated fantasy film directed by Hiroyuki Morita of Studio Ghibli, produced by Toshio Suzuki and Nozomu Takahashi, written by Reiko Yoshida, based on The Cat Returns by Aoi Hiiragi with music by Yuji Nomi, and stars Chizuru Ikewaki, Yoshihiko Hakamada, Tetsu Watanabe, Yosuke Saito, Aki Maeda and Tetsurō Tamba. It received an Excellence Prize at the 2002 Japan Media Arts Festival.
The Cat Returns is a side story to the Studio Ghibli film, “Whisper of the Heart’. In essence, it is a separate story within a story, which makes the concept quite clever. It brings back old characters from the original showing, into a plot that has a similar atmosphere to The Nutcracker or Alice in Wonderland. It is a fantasy, in a which a shy girl is carried off into another land, and in the process learns more about herself. The moral behind the story is a touching one, and it is delivered well. Perhaps the only drawback that someone might find, is that it all ends too happily. In my opinion, this is the strongest point of the film. There will always be a moment in which something ironic, or humorous occurs. They try their best to make the audience laugh. If it isn’t the witty or silly remarks made by the characters, then it is the very actions within the plot itself. I enjoyed the film very much, and haven’t felt so light-hearted in a while. The Cat Returns, is a comical and sweet tale. It isn’t something meant to be taken seriously. It is an odd, wacky fantasy with jokes and general mischief at every corner. I feel that it is a must see for any Studio Ghibli fan.