The Cat Returns (Neko no Ongaeshi)

I snagged this title off of Netflix for Daughter Otaku, though Baby Otaku has been rather entranced by it as well. In a nutshell, this is your standard Studio Ghibli – girl protagonist, who must learn to belkieve in herself, as she faces supernatural threats with the help of a heroic mentor. Directed by Hiroyuki Morita rather than Miyazaki himself, it’s not on the level of Totoro, but it’s close, in that it makes you smile while you watch it, and leaves you feeling unreasonably happy after it’s over. In fact the spirit of this film is probably epitomized by the catchy ending theme, which some enterprising otaku has put to video with scenes from the movie on YouTube:

My daughter is rewinding the ending theme as we speak, repeatedly, trying to memorize the lyrics. In Japanese. (This is the same child who, as a toddler, overdosed on Totoro. Let it not be said that Studio Ghibli are not masters of their craft).

Highly recommended. If you like Totoro, you will appreciate this. It’s not an equal, but it is a peer.

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