The Cat Returns is a bit of a curiosity in the Ghibli catalogue. It’s probably the most lighthearted film in their library, the character designs don’t have that distinctive Ghibli “look”, and it’s the most “cartoonish”, for lack of a better term. But it’s still the kind of quality one expects from a Ghibli film.
I like to think of The Cat Returns as a story which Shizuku from Whisper of the Heart has written about the Baron. The two films are connected, after all. There is another returning character which I somehow overlooked until now as well: Muta, the big white cat. In Whisper of the Heart, Shizuku met him on the train, so it would make sense that he appears in her story as well. (Keeping in mind that The Cat Returns being a story Shizuku wrote is just my headcanon and not actual canon, as far as I know…)
And in Ghibli tradition, there is another likeable lead character in Haru. She’s a high school girl just trying to find out where she belongs, and her adventures in the Cat Kingdom, with some help from the Baron, help her to discover her path.
Below you’ll find some screenshots I took of some of my favorite scenes with Haru and the Baron and some of the other characters. Haru is a rather ordinary girl, but for me that only adds to her charm.
I’m usually pretty good at figuring out time signatures. I’ve been listening to this song for eighteen years and still haven’t quite figured it (or them, in this case) out! I do know that it changes every bar or so like a Stravinsky piece might, but I still haven’t completely cracked it.
I know I could easily look it up, what with the internet existing and all, but what’s the fun in that?
MIRAI is the latest film from Mamoru Hosoda, director of the acclaimed The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, which is one of my all-time favorite anime films. While Hosoda does have some other works that I still have not had a chance to see yet (I should probably put Summer Wars, Wolf Children, and The Boy and the Beast on my list of films to see post haste!), I didn’t want to miss out on MIRAI, and as expected, it didn’t disappoint.
While MIRAI didn’t have quite the same gravity to me as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time did, it did amaze me in different ways, as it’s a very different film. It uses some interesting cinematic and narrative devices to explore some very human themes. To say too much would be giving the game away; MIRAI is a film best experienced for the first time with no prior knowledge. Let the characters and story slowly reveal themselves, and enjoy the ride. Studio Chizu’s production values, animation quality, and attention to detail are no less impressive than Japan’s most famous animation studio.
Many people remember this whimsical travelogue music video for the song, but it’s actually a bit of a dark lyric. “Take Me Home” is told from the perspective of a patient in a psychiatric hospital, and really isn’t about travel at all.
One of my favorite scenes from Spirited Away, and there are many of those! Small Chihiro standing in a wide, empty street of the apparently abandoned theme park makes good use of contrast, and shows just how big a world she finds herself in, especially once night falls.
A cheerful, Europop-inspired metal tune from Devin Townsend suitable to brighten any day. No, really. When I saw him play this in concert, he said it was inspired by the relentlessly happy sounding music by groups like Aqua.
I recently saw a performance on television by seventeen-year-old pianist Emily Bear with her jazz combo. Impressed with what I heard, I decided to investigate some more, and I found this amazing performance of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” from a few years ago.
At the mere age of thirteen when this performance was recorded, it’s clear that her talent is the real thing. I got chills several times watching as she breezed through the technical solo sections. This concert clip also made me a fan.