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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Movie explores themes of identity, particularly in adolescents, and how the "mask" they wear in public can often hide sadness, depression, anxiety. Acceptance of those who are "different."
Positive Role Models
The main characters struggle with first crushes, adjusting to new family situations, putting on a "happy face" in public in spite of whatever problems are going on inside -- all qualities that many older kids can readily identify with.
Violence & Scariness
A girl and her stepmother get into a physical altercation -- slapping, pulling hair. While on a second story walkway, the lead character overhears two boys saying mean things about the boy she has a crush on, and responds by jumping off the walkway, her fall broken somewhat by the leaves and branches of the tree below her, but sustaining some cuts and injuries. Two bullies steal a love letter written by the main character and start reading it in the middle of a classroom; when the lead character runs off, her classmates knock them down behind a desk. A group of cats attack the villain cat with frying pans, tea cups, claws.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
When the body of the lead character is possessed by her stepmother's cat, the lead character invites her crush over to her house and suggests that they sleep together that night. Movie is centered on the intense crush/infatuation the lead character has on a classmate.
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"Hell" used once.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Villain cat smokes a pipe. A group of cats at a bar drink beer and alcohol, lamenting the mistakes they've made in life. Lead character's dad drinks a beer during dinner.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Whisker Away is an anime fantasy in which a free-spirited girl nicknamed Muge (voiced by Mirai Shida) finds a way to transform into a cat in order to get to know her crush, Hinode (Natsuki Hanae), better. Muge's transformation is accomplished by putting on an enchanted/cursed cat mask: It's an obvious symbol for the "masks" Muge and Hinode wear in public as they try to hide inner depression and anxiety. While overhearing two boys saying mean things about Hinode, Muge jumps from a second-story walkway to confront them and falls through a tree, resulting in scratches and injuries. Muge and her stepmother get into a physical altercation that includes slaps and hair-pulling. Two bullies steal the love letter Muge has written for Hinode and read it aloud in class, resulting in deep humiliation for her. Others in class stand up to the bullies by knocking them over with a desk. When Muge's body is taken over by her stepmother's cat, Muge suggests to Hinode that they go back to her house where he can spend the night with her. Some drinking in a "cat bar," where cats drink alcohol and lament their life decisions. A villain cat smokes a pipe. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
While the "mask" metaphor is a frequent motif in the poetry of angst-ridden teens contending with issues of identity and first crushes, this movie finds a beautiful originality in the premise. This coming-of-age anime explores the different ways in which adolescents (and adults) might hide (yes, "mask") their true feelings in their public personas, and how these differences, particularly when it comes to deeper attraction, aren't as far apart deep down as they appear. Besides identity, A Whisker Away also explores the infatuations of first-time crushes, the challenges of adjusting to new family situations, acceptance of those who are "different," depression, friendship, and how it's ok not to always be happy and cheerful, especially when one doesn't feel happy and cheerful inside.
What's particularly enjoyable about A Whisker Away is that it manages to steer clear of the typical tendency of anime to overload a movie with far too many themes, side stories, and minor characters. It does this while still keeping all of the style, surrealism, and unusual humor that defines the best anime. For example, there's a scene in which humans trapped as cats hang out in a gritty "cat bar," lamenting their questionable life choices that got them to this point. Scenes like these keep the movie entertaining for adult anime fans as well.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.