Animation is an incredible powerful medium that has the very real capability to freight train you right in the feels. Films like Land Before Time, Up or even Big Hero 6 still hold dear and emotional memories for me.
Though there is one animation studio that is the king in terms of the feels: Studio Ghibli. It’s also been a real treat now their films are making their way stateside and in high definition, making it a perfect opportunity to re-live these classics and even share them with your fellow geek. Though it must be said the one that truly caught me off guard was The Cat Returns.
Now before I start the review, if you haven’t watched a Studio Ghibli film or need help picking one out, feel free to drop us a line! We have experts on hand that can easily assist you with discovering the joys that this studio brings.
It’s also noted that if you want the full effect of this movie, I highly recommend that you sit down and watch Whispers of the Heart, which serves as a prequel of sorts.
While the story isn’t complex…it’s fantastically executed:
The basic premise is you have Haru, a high school girl who is going through one of the “coming of age” moments. While on her way home from school she has a chance encounter with a purple cat and it appears to be carrying a small present. As the cat is crossing the street it nearly gets hit by a car but Haru comes to the rescue. Little did she know she just rescued Lune – Prince of the Cat Kingdom.
Wanting to thank Haru for saving the prince, the cats of the Cat Kingdom brings her a variety of presents that a cat could of course love. If that wasn’t enough, they even offer her the Prince’s hand in marriage.
At this point, Haru is not fully committed to this idea and needs some help. That’s when she hears a small voice directing her to the only place where she can get some help: The Cat Bureau. This is where Haru meets the Tuxedo Mask of Cats: The Baron. Will the Baron be able to save Haru from the Kingdom of Cats? There so much more fun to this story, but I would hate to spoil it.
As mentioned before, the story may not be complicated but its execution is flawless. What I always liked about the story is the amount of time everything is given. It spends just enough time on back story while continuing the pacing of the main plot. The characters are all very intriguing, especially Muta, which happens to be a large white cat with a very smart-ass response to everything.
So this is the first time The Cat Returns is on Blu Ray, and if there is anything that Studio Ghibli does well is its presentation. The colors are all wonderfully chosen and simply pop off the screen. The artwork itself holds up very well to the HD treatment, especially the line art. Everything is really clean and makes you appreciate the artwork. It’s truly a visual treat.
The only area I found the Blu Ray lacking was the special features. Most of the options revolve around the English Voice actors. It sadly just wasn’t something I was really interested in. Other Studio Ghibli films on Blu Ray would have interviews with the director and real life locations on where the inspiration came from.
The Blu Ray contains options for English 5.1, French 5.1 and Japanese 5.1, all of which sound great. As a side note, I watched the film in it’s original language Japanese for this review and you could tell a significant difference from the standard DVD. The music is also some of my favorite and you find yourself totally digging up the soundtrack on iTunes. It really sets the atmosphere and makes the story just that much more entertaining. My favorite song is from the dance scene in the movie where Baron and Haru dance together. It is still one of the best scenes in the movie to me…well aside from the Baron pulling The Empire Strikes Back “I know” moment.
A really great presentation of one of my favorite Studio Ghibli films. The Blu Ray has everything that you need to really enjoy the story as a whole. Aside from the lack of special features or digital copy, this is a solid two disc set that includes both a DVD and Blu Ray of the films. If you are looking for an entertaining film that will hit you right in the feels, The Cat Returns is a must.