Thursday, June 25, 2020

Review: A Whisker Away

Release date: June 18, 2020
Running time: 104 minutes
Starring: Mirai Shida, Natsuki Hanae, Susumu Chiba

Miyo Sasaki, nicknamed "Muge" meaning "infinitely mysterious," has a bright personality and is full of energy at school and at home.  She is also not so secretly in love with her classmate Kento Hinode.  Muge tries repeatedly to get Kento's attention, but he does not take her seriously.  Eventually, she finds a mysterious mask salesman who gives her the ability to transform into a cat.  Using this, she finally is able to get close to Kento, but at some point, the boundary between herself and the cat becomes ambiguous.  And as she spends more time as a cat, she realizes that to stay in that world, she will be forced to give up her life as a human.

Most anime are unconventional, but this one feels even stranger I am used to.  It was nice to see an anime with a strong willed female lead, an outspoken character who knows what she wants and will do what it takes to get it.  Muge has a lot going on, but her personality is definitely a highlight of this film.  Although she secretly has a lot of insecurity and a lot going on at home, outwardly she is a fun, slightly crazy character.  Hinode is the exact opposite of her; he is quiet, confident, and emotionally blank.  But as we learn in the film from both characters, your exterior is only part of who you are.  

Despite being a Netflix release, A Whisker Away is through and through a Japanese anime.  The animation is absolutely beautiful, with a bright, colorful style that is eye catching and entertaining.  The cats are all drawn beautifully and differently, which is a definite plus when you have so many of them to see.  And some of the more otherworldly places that we are taken to are very imaginative.  The story of A Whisker Away is interesting with a lot of raw emotion.  As we learn in the film, what people (and animals) project on the outside is sometimes very different from what is going on inside.  And these emotions are laid bare during the film.  If there is a negative about this film, it is that some of the emotional growth and epiphanies happen after characters run away, which is maybe not the best message to send.  But it is also a common anime theme and one that helps move the story along.

A Whisker Away is a beautifully animated Japanese film with strong characters, an interesting story, and plenty of raw emotion.  

Watch it.

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