A Whisker Away is directed by Jun’ichi Satô and Tomotaka Shibayama and it tells the story of Miyo, a girl who can magically transform into a cat so she can be with her school crush, Hinode. Unfortunately things are a bit rocky between them when she is a regular girl. Now she wants to confess her love in hopes that she will be with him as a girl and not a cat. The movie stars Mirai Shida and Natsuki Hanae.
When it comes to anime movies, I usually have three categories from to choose from, Studio Ghibli, Makoto Shinkai and the ones based on the shows I watch. I don’t really venture into other animes, mostly because I don’t have the time to experiment. This however, is not only a new release, it was intended to have theatrical Japanese release but it was sold to Netflix. If you don’t know anime takes an incredibly long time to reach globally, for example Weathering With You hasn’t even had it’s digitial release yet. Naturally I was on board, I am also a big cat person so that helped. When I saw the trailer I admit I was a bit weirded out by the concept but I figured, why not? I didn’t know what to expect from this movie and I didn’t really have any high or low expectations. I was just looking for a good time and there are definitely parts of this movie which did that for me. Unfortunately, there were also moments where this cat dragged.
A Whisker Away is a cute and innocent pre-teen romance which takes too damn long to get to the point and that is due to the unnecessarily long runtime. While I like the concept of this movie, it does not warrant an hour and forty minute runtime. I feel like this could have been cut down to an hour and ten minutes, maybe even an hour. Makoto Shinkai’s Garden of Words did it in forty-five minutes. For the majority of the first two acts, I was wondering where or if the story would pick up. Thankfully it does and what follows is a cute love-story which did actually get me invested. One thing I can definitely praise the movie for is it’s characters. They actually give them some decent backstory. The lead, Miyo has a very irresponsible and boisterous character at the beginning and while she doesn’t really change that much throughout the course of the movie, it does explain why she acts the way she does and I feel like that is the strongest aspect of the movie. The themes of a new family, abandonment and being afraid to love are done really well.
Now I have had my fair share of school crushes growing up like everyone else but I don’t think I was ever on Miyo’s level. I would scare myself if I was. At first glance, Miyo’s love for Hinode is portayed as this creepy, selfish obsession and while I understand why she makes her sole purpose in life to be with this boy, it is still morally questionable. What happens to her at a young age definitely impacted her now and her ability to love and trust other people. She thinks that she isn’t loved because of what happened to her. I thought that that was done very well. However she does something in the end of the second act which was a bit too irresponsible but considering her past it made sense for her character. I also really like Hinode’s character, he wasn’t this bad boy type and he wasn’t this shy guy either, he was just an everyday guy with a kind heart. They do rush his character sub-plot, they don’t even finish it in the actual movie, it’s in the credits.
For a movie about turning into cats, they actually did a great job of putting the viewer in the headspace Miyo was is in during the first act. Is being a cat really better than being human? Well, it depends on your life and what you have to lose. There is is really great scene on Cat Island where two characters enter a bar for cats who used to be humans and they tell their reasons. Some cats are satisfied with it, some are not. The lore of this movie was definitely interesting and it was truly brough to life by the wonderful animation. Studio Colorido do a fantastic job with the animation, it is smooth, lively and familiar yet somehow different Ghibli and Makoto Shinkai’s animation.
Overall A Whisker Away is cute enough to entertain a hopeless romantic like myself. The themes and characters are written well enough to make you care and get invested. Even though it overstays its welcome with its uneccesarily long runtime, it has plenty of treats to keep this cat satisfied.