A Whisker Away

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
A Whisker Away Movie Poster Image
Lovely coming-of-age anime explores identity, first crushes.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 104 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 5 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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

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. 

Sex

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. 

Language

"Hell" used once. 

Consumerism
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.

What 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. 

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11-year-old Written byElliott.wu July 2, 2020

A cute but highly problematic movie

The movie itself is beautiful animated, the setting is incredibly charming, and the central conceit is VERY interesting.

Which is why it feels odd that while... Continue reading
Adult Written byLaneymads July 12, 2020

Beautiful but some odd messages

Some beautiful animation and an interesting plot premise about a girl who becomes a cat at night to visit the boy she has a crush on. However the central roman... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byangelic_deer June 19, 2020

Amazing!

It’s an amazing movie, and by all means go watch. I put it for 13+ not because it’s inappropriate or anything, but I think that it focuses on that stage of life... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old July 2, 2020

Great Movie

This movie is great! It’s completely family friendly but I think people 10 and older will understand the movie’s plot and the main character’s situation better.

What's the story?

In A WHISKER AWAY, Miyo Sasaki, nicknamed "Muge," (voiced by Mirai Shida) is a girl with an intense crush on her classmate Hinode (Natsuki Hanae). While Muge is free-spirited and shows her feelings for Hinode in over-the-top ways, Hinode is more reserved and seems put off by Muge's overexuberance. Angst-ridden over her infatuation with Hinode, Muge meets a mysterious giant cat called "The Mask Seller," who gives her a mask that allows Muge to transform into an adorable fluffy white cat with large blue eyes. As a cat, Muge goes to Hinode's house to learn more about him in order to make herself more appealing to Hinode. Hinode immediately bonds with the cat, and names her "Taro," the same name as his recently deceased pet dog. As "Taro," Muge learns that, in spite of the opposite ways in which they behave at school, the two really aren't so far apart. At school, Muge starts using the knowledge she has learned about Hinode to get closer to him, but after a humiliation at school and troubles at home come to the forefront, Muge begins to seriously consider The Mask Seller's offer to remain as a cat for the rest of her life. As the line between her "cat life" and human life becomes increasingly blurred, Muge must find a way to stay human. 

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the meaning of the cat mask in A Whisker Away. How is the mask used to highlight the differences between the "public face" people might wear in public and how they might really feel? Like these characters, have you ever felt like you needed to pretend to be happy in public or with family members in order to hide sadness or confusion in your inner/personal life?

  • The movie addresses first crushes, bullying, and challenging family situations. How are the fantasy elements used to highlight all of these real concerns? 

  • How does this movie compare to other anime movies you've seen?

Movie details

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