A Whisker Away (2020) A Review

Adorable visuals and a really cute, romantic story, with a slightly weird twist. I was happy to dive headfirst into this. Did it live up to my expectations?

Certificate: PG

Director: Jun’ichi Satô, Tomotaka Shibayama

Screenwriter: Mari Okada

Starring: Mirai Shida, Natsuki Hanae, Susumu Chiba

Genre: Fantasy, Animation

Runtime: 104 Minutes

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

Miyo Sasaki is a weird second-year junior high student, who falls in love with her classmate Kento Hinode. Muge tries to make Kento notice her every day, but all in vain. Nevertheless, while carrying a secret she can tell no one, Muge continues to pursue Kento. Muge discovers a magic mask that allows her to transform into a cat, however, there is also a probability that she might never become human again, if she continues using the mask

Originally meant to release in Japanese theatres this month, due to the COVID situation, it as given an international release on Netflix instead.  Don’t let the cute animation and fluffy cats fool you, this is not really a film made for children.  It deals with some pretty heavy themes, and is certainly more suited to teenagers.  The character of Miyo, while we are supposed to find her antics humorous, actually hide a lot of pain and sadness.  It is a really emotional story if you take the weird cat shape shifting element out of it.  It’s about a young girl trying to escape the hardships that she has in life through any means necessary, and the pain of first love and the awkwardness of being a teenager.

The villain of the piece is an overweight tabby cat called simply ‘Mask Seller’.  He makes a living from turning humans into cats and cats into humans.  He is a scene stealer every time he is on screen and a real interesting idea for a villain.

The humour is balanced very well, with Miyo giving us plenty of high jinks to chuckle along with.  Her obsession with Kento leading to plenty of hilarious moments.  However, I feel like if the gender roles here were reversed, we wouldn’t be laughing half as much.   And there is a lot of casual bullying going on I the school that just seems to be completely glanced over by everyone concerned.

I would say that this film suffers with some pacing issues.  The beginning scenes, that explain so much about Miyo’s personality, and her decision to accept the mas in the first place, literally take about a minute.  It is quite important to the story and I wish they had taken longer over it.  And then again in the middle portion of the film, it seemed to be taking a really long time to get to the next part of the story.

This will be a tough watch for some people, there are some tough moment to get through.  But it is cute and has a really interesting story and some great characters.  I have seen better anime, but it is good that this film got a chance to be seen outside of Japan.  If you want to check it out for yourself, ‘A Whisker Away’ is available to watch on Netflix now!

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