The Cat Returns

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

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 9 reviews

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!" 

Violence

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.

Sex

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

Language
Consumerism
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
Parent of a 6 year old Written bymcgintymk March 9, 2012

Delightful for your cat lover

I think the rating for 10 year olds is too high. My daughter is 6 and loved it. She adores cats and was thrilled when the first cat stands up and speaks to Haru... Continue reading
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
Kid, 10 years old June 29, 2012

Stop looking for the perfect family film. YOU FOUND IT!!

This is a great family film! I don't know why it says 10+. The most it has is a little fight moments (no blood. The most....a scratch.) Haru is a great rol... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old October 22, 2012

Wonderful, another great movie from Studio Ghibli

The Cat Returns is another great anime by Studio Ghibli. It should be mentioned that one does not have to watch Whisper Of The Heart or know the characters in a... 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

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