The latest film from Japanese animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli is The Cat Returns, an enchanting fantasy adventure tale following the fortunes of Haru, a young girl who is drawn into the secret world of cats.
Walking home from school with her closest friend, Haru spots a graceful cat heading into traffic with a gift-wrapped package between its teeth. Risking her life, Haru lunges onto the road, rescuing the feline in the nick of time. Promptly standing on its hind legs, the cat eloquently thanks Haru for saving its life, bows and then pounces off. Later that night a magnificent procession of cats arrives at Haru's door. Our heroine learns that she saved the life of the prince of the cat kingdom, and finds herself pledged to marry him as a reward for her heroic act. The only catch is that if she does marry the prince, she could never again return to her human life. Luckily Haru is protected and guided by a fat white cat, Muta, and a smaller cat, known as the Baron (who both appear in the 1995 Ghibli film, Whisper of the Heart, also screening in MIFF this year), who set out to rescue the young girl from having to marry the cat prince before it is too late!
D Morita Hiroyuki P Suzuki Toshio, Takahashi Nozomu S Yoshida Reiko WS Studio Ghibli L Japanese w/English subtitles TD 35mm/Col/2002/75mins
Morita Hiroyuki was born in Fukuoka, Japan in 1964. Films: The Cat Returns (MIFF 2004).