The Cat Returns is a 2002 film directed by Studio Ghibli’s Hiroyuki Morita; it was released on July 19, 2002. This is the only movie to be directed by Morita at the moment.
The film is a spin-off of the early Whisper of the Heart of Yoshifumi Kondô, in which the characters Muta and The Baron, who grew in prominence after the release of the film, are granted their respective stories in a completely new world.
The movie features a new character named Haru, a clumsy teenage girl who is frequently late for school and humiliated around her high school crushes. Read on to learn more about the film’s plot.
Haru and Lune’s Meeting
The story is about a girl named Haru, a reserved, timid high school student who has a hidden ability to speak to cats. She saves the Russian Blue odd-eyed cat one day from being struck on a busy road by a truck.
The name of the cat is Lune, Prince of the Cat Kingdom. The cat gives Haru presents of catnip and mice for appreciation, and she is given the hand of the Prince for marriage. Her confused response is misunderstood as a yes.
Strange Voice, Muta, Baron, and Toto
Not liking what’s happening, Haru hears a soft, female voice, which tells her to look for the Cat Bureau. Haru encounters Muta, a big white cat. The voice also tells her to search for direction, which leads her to meet Baron and Toto.
Haru and Muta are forcibly taken to the Cat Kingdom shortly after, abandoning Toto and the Baron in the human realm to pursue the group from the air. The Baron and his crow friend discover the gateway to the Cat Kingdom on Earth.
Feast at the Cat Kingdom
Haru is kept at the Castle of the Cat Kingdom for a feast, and she slowly starts to transform into a cat with tan paws, ears, and whiskers, albeit still predominantly human, to bring the Prince a fitting bride.
As part of the entertainment, the Baron (in disguise) dances with Haru and explains to her that the longer she finds herself in the kingdom, the more she will become cat-like and that she has to find her true self.
Saved by Yuki
When the Baron is detected and compelled to battle the guards, Yuki, a white female cat who works in the palace as a servant and warns Haru to flee the Cat Kingdom before she is brought to the castle,
Yuki reveals a path leading to a tunnel. Haru, the Baron, and Muta’s escape leads them to a tower through a labyrinth, which includes a gateway to Haru’s world.
Lune and His Plan on Proposing to Yuki
Lune and his guards returned to the Cat Kingdom to announce that the King was not acting on his side and had no intention to marry Haru and instead intended to propose to Yuki.
In the Kingdom, Muta is an infamous criminal, having consumed an entire lake of fish in one session, and Yuki is the mysterious voice that told Haru to go to the Cat Bureau.
Eventually, with Prince Lune and Toto’s help, the Baron, Haru, and Muta escaped from the Cat Kingdom, and Haru finds her true identity and tells the Baron how she came to like him.
Haru returns to the human world with more self-confidence; she simply responds, “it doesn’t matter anymore” after learning that her former crush has broken up with his girlfriend.
There is not anything more to be said about The Cat Returns. It is Studio’s fairly entertaining effort that performed moderately at the box office and generated a decent response from audiences and critics.