The Cat Returns (猫の恩返し, Neko no Ongaeshi, lit. The Cat’s Repayment) is a 2002 Japanese animated drama film directed by Morita Hiroyuki (森田宏幸). A spin-off of Whisper of the Heart (耳をすませば, Mimi wo Sumaseba, lit. If You Listen Closely), it was theatrically released in Japan on July 19, 2002 through the Toho Company. It received an Excellence Prize at the 2002 Japan Media Arts Festival.
The story is about a girl named Haru, a quiet, shy and ditzy high school student who has a suppressed ability to talk with cats. One day, she saves a darkly-colored, odd-eyed cat from being hit by a truck on a busy road. The cat is Lune, Prince of the Cat Kingdom. As thanks, the cats give Haru gifts of catnip and mice, and she is offered the Prince’s hand in marriage. Her mixed reply is taken as a yes.
The rest is up to you to imagine, or watch for yourself! 🙂
In 1995, Studio Ghibli released a film entitled Whisper of the Heart (耳をすませば, Mimi wo Sumaseba, lit. If You Listen Closely), about a girl writing a fantasy novel. Although the girl’s life had no magical elements, the film featured short fantasy scenes depicting what the girl was writing of the Baron, a character of her novel, was so popular that an indirect sequel was made, featuring the Baron and another girl, a high school student, named Haru. Muta also returned.
Personally, I think it was a really fun movie! It has lots of interesting elements, and that touch of “curiosity” that is so common to Studio Ghibli’s movies. It’s really easy to feel attracted from the start to the end of this great work (^^)