Genre: Romance, fantasy, drama
Available on: Netflix
Studio: Studio Colorido
Run time: 1h 44mins
A Whisker Away is Netflix original anime film about a junior high school student named Miyo “Muge” Sasaki who has fallen head over heels in love with her classmate Kento Hinode. However, the feelings aren’t mutual. Muge is determined to get her crushes attention but any and all advances on Kento are met with no response. Whilst on her pursuit to get Kento to notice her, she comes into the possession of a magical mask which can transform her into a small white cat named Tarou. Whilst in her cat form Muge begins to form a close bond to Kento, but there is more to this wondrous and magical transformation that she realises.
A Whisker Away is a quaint, beautiful anime film with Studio Ghibli undertones. The idea of being able to turn into a cat, prowl around town and be instantly loved by your crush feels like a rather romantic and whimsical concept which is probably what drew me to this film in the first place. Whilst this anime does heavily utilise the use of magic and fantasy, especially towards the end of the film, the feelings and issues characters like Muge face throughout feel so relatable and grounded in reality. Most of us have been there with unrequited love and wanting to gain the attention and affection of your crush and it makes Muge a relatable protagonist. With the added magic of Muge turning into a cat, it adds a brightness to the story of a teenager falling in love and struggling with her family life and relationships.
As the film progressed and the sinister mask seller was introduced, the Studio Ghibli vibes really began to peak through. The whole character design of the mask seller just screams Studio Ghibli villain and reminds me of something reminiscent of Spirited Away. Cat Island which appears later on in the film also gives off major Ghibli vibes not only through the stunning visuals of the island itself but also the anthropomorphic cats which inhabit the island. The contrast of Muge as a little white cat on all fours versus the rest of the inhabitants of the cat island surprised me to begin with. I assumed that all the cats would be of similar size to Tarou and walk on all fours but they mirrored the stature of the mask seller.
The romantic elements throughout the film are both cute and often frustrating to watch. Seeing the pain in which Muge goes through for a boy before seeing how he behaves with her in cat form made me want to scream a little. It is that frustrating idea of two characters having their wires crossed when it comes to their feelings and as a viewer who has a complete picture you just want them to get together. Although, the frustration does pay off in the end as the two grow closer whilst Muge is in her cat form which in turn strengthens their bond when she is back in her human form.
Overall, A Whisker Away is in no respect a game changer when it comes to storytelling. However, it is still a really fun and beautiful watch. If you are in need of a new anime to watch and want some Ghibli vibes then A Whisker Away is the perfect film to check out!
Overall rating: 7.5/10
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