The Cat Returns

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
The Cat Returns Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Imaginative adventure anime has some fantasy violence.
  • G
  • 2005
  • 75 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 14 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Strong messages about staying true to yourself.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Haru is a great role model for girls. She learns to stand up for herself, and declares that "nobody decides who I am but me!" 


Haru is nearly run over by a truck while rescuing a cat in the middle of the road. Lots of scenes of cartoonish violence, with cats fighting with swords, spears, and chains. The King of the Cats detonates a tower, causing Haru to freefall from the sky. A cat is thrown out of the tower. Another cat is shown seemingly dead, in a giant bowl of catnip jelly.


Haru is a normal tween who talks with her friends about her crush on a boy. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this imaginative offshoot of Whispers of the Heart has violent scenes of cartoon cats engaged in battles with swords, spears, and chains. But the overarching story of Haru learning that "nobody decides who I am but me" is an inspiring story for mature tweens and up.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byeclairdelune January 25, 2012

Delightful film for adults and little children

The recommendation for age 10 on this site is too high. I saw this film with two boys aged 9 and 13 and with two girls aged 5 and 6. The girls loved it, often l... Continue reading
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byVvater June 24, 2020

Meowgical adventure for all ages

Amazing main character Haru stands up for herself and is a great role model for young girls of all ages.
Teen, 17 years old Written bySophie Hatter October 31, 2020

Just a Fun, Nice Movie

This film was was extremely easy to watch and follow, with the storyline being typical of a normal movie. I do just think that this is just a nice kid’s/family... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old March 25, 2020

The Cat Returns (Review)

The Cat Returns is a very interesting movie.The cats, in my opinion, are a little creepy but later in the movie I got used to them.It has romance in it which I... Continue reading

What's the story?

Haru (voiced by Anne Hathaway) walks home with her friend after a tough day at school when she rescues a cat from nearly getting run over by a truck. The cat is actually the Prince of the Cats, hailing from the Kingdom of Cats. In gratitude, cats everywhere bring gift-wrapped mice to her school locker, and want to take her to the Kingdom so she can marry the Prince. Her only escape from this odd fate comes in the form of a mysterious voice summoning her to the Cat Bureau, where the dashing feline Baron (Cary Elwes) and his portly companion Muta (Peter Boyle) (both of whom were characters in the charming anime Whispers of the Heart) try to rescue Haru from both marriage to -- and transforming into -- a cat.

Is it any good?

This movie's as strange as it is imaginative. A human girl is summoned to marry a princely cat, cats fight with swords, spears, and chains, a girl transforms (metamorphosizes?) into a cat, a jester cat substitutes squid-throwing for knife-throwing to entertain a cat king, etc. But for parents and kids wearied of the trite and formulaic, THE CAT RETURNS should be a refreshing change from the typical. It brings back two of the characters from the charming coming-of-age anime Whisper of the Heart, but don't expect this to be a sequel. The Cat Returns is its own surreal deal. 

Counterbalancing the highly-creative adventure story is the inspirational story of Haru's self-affirmation, as The Baron and Muta inspire her to believe in herself and to not allow her destiny to be controlled by others. (Especially cats.) There is a fair amount of cartoon violence as Haru tries to make her escape from the Kingdom of Cats, but all-in-all, The Cat Returns is a fun -- and unusual -- adventure tale. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Haru's social, school, and home life are depicted in the film. How is it similar or different to your life?

  • How is this anime's portrayal of tween life similar and different to tween life shown in American films? 

  • In the midst of an argument, Haru proclaims, "Nobody decides who I am but me!" What does this mean, and how might these principles be applied in daily life? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animation

Themes & Topics

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