A Whisker Away showcases the childhood fantasy of living life as someone’s pet. It has a hyper-active, disillusioned protagonist whose actions are written off as silly but are problematic.
A teenage love story between an obsessed extroverted girl and a shy and quiet boy gets a magical twist full of cats.
1. Quick Review
A Whisker Away lacks the clarity and depth required to get its point across. A girl hell-bent on getting an introvert boy to like her by jumping butt-first into him in school doesn’t make for a very likable protagonist.
The movie’s third act, which should have highlighted the importance of self-love and respecting other people’s privacy and opinions, is packed with action.
While it is too harsh to judge a pure fantasy childhood romance by the standards set by adults, that is the world in which we live. While not emotionally resonant, A Whisker Away is unique and innocent enough to merit a watch.
A Whisker AwayAir Date: June 18, 2020Status: FinishedStudio: Toho Animation, Twin Engine & Studio Colorido
4. Is It Worth Watching?
The original Japanese title of the movie, which translates to “Wanting to Cry- I Pretend to Be a Cat,” manages to convey the theme of the story.
The two kids crave affection and attention outside their household, and their utopia of dreams comes crashing down.
The story revolves around Miyo Sasaki, who has a massive crush on her classmate, Kento Hinode. Miyo has earned the nickname Miss Ultra Gaga because she starts school by butt-checking Kento, calling it the Hinode Sunrise Attack.
She thinks this will make Kento like her. When Kento, a shy and introverted boy, is embarrassed by the attention Miyo is not deterred.
Miyo meets a mysterious Mask Seller who gives her a magical Noh Mask, which transformers her into a cat. She goes to Kento as the stray cat, and he names her Taro, showering it with love and affection.
As Taro, Miyo learns about Kento’s passion for pottery and the fact that hi parents are shutting down their shop due to economic hardships.
Over time a companionship develops between the unsuspecting Kento and Miyo disguised as the cat Taro. He is glad to have someone for the company and gives the cat all the snuggles and kisses that Miyo craved.
Miyo wants to tell him that the cat he loves and the girl he hates are the same person and writes him a letter, confessing her feelings.
When a bully at school intercepts the letter and reads it aloud, it embarrasses Kento even further. He proclaims loudly to the class that he hates Miyo to save face. Miyo thinking that there is no way back from here that decides that life as a cat with Kento is better than life as a human without him.
She discards her human face, which the Mask Seller collects, and goes with him to complete her transformation to a cat. Meanwhile, the missing Kento causes panic among her friends and family, and Kento confesses that he doesn’t hate her and wants her back.
II. Cast & Characters
Mirai Shida voices Miyo, a girl bursting with energy and extravagance. She is desperate for someone other than her family to love her and wants to get Kento using any means necessary.
She is unapologetic for her actions and forcing herself on Kento, which doesn’t make her a role model for teenage love.
Natsuki Hanae, as Kento, is the shy boy living a private life who is embarrassed by the attention he gets from Miyo. He wants nothing to do with her and wants his mother to understand his love for pottery.
III. Visuals & Music
Studio Colorido and Twin Engine, along with Toho Animation, have managed to produce a lush background and pleasing visuals to support the mediocre story.
The summery animation gives a soft touch to the story. The Island of Cats in the final act is filled with unusual structures and landscapes.
Every action of Taro has been animated with great care. Every twitch of her ears and her eyes convey emotion. The soundtrack is also bubbly and reflects Miyo’s exaggerated gestures when she thinks about Kento. Pop-rock duo Yorushika has also contributed to the songs.
IV. The Shortcomings
A Whisker Away does not have the emotional depth and resonance that Disney and Pixar and now mastering. Miyo is far from perfect, pestering her crush and forcing him to reciprocate her feelings. It is also a little creepy to think that your pets could be people obsessed with you.
Several sub-plots vanish in the middle of the movie. One revolving around Miyo’s best friend Yuri and another around her step-mom don’t come to a logical conclusion.
The movie doesn’t highlight the importance of self-love and how it is not okay for Miyo to live her whole life for and around Kento. The action-packed third act feels like a missed opportunity to turn this film into so much more.
5. Final Thoughts
Although it is far from perfect, A Whisker Away is a pure depiction of teenage love. Filled with big-eyed cute cats and warm animations, it is an average fantasy romance that captures a child’s, first love.