Neko no Ongaeshi


Yesterday I went to see Neko no Ongaeshi (The Cat Returns the Favor). That's the latest film by the studio that made two of Japan's most successful films ever, Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke) and Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Sprited Away) which is the most successful movie of all time in Japan.

Neko no Ongaeshi is kind of a sequel to an older movie called Mimi no Sumaseba (Whispers of the Heart). Several of the same characters appear in both movies. The funny thing is, being a fan of Ghibli Studio, the studio that made the films, several years ago I bought the laserdisc for Mimi no Sumaseba. I loaned it to a friend immediately, he watched it, said it was not very interesting and so I never got around to watching it so I don't know if it's good or not. I suspect that there was not much action and as the movie is in Japanese with no subtitles it's not the kind of movie you can understand just by watching the images.

Anyway, now I'm interested in watching it because the new one, Neko no Ongaeshi, was really pretty good. It's about a girl who rescues a cat from getting run over by a car and is rewarded by being introduced to the world of cats. I highly recommend it. In fact, I suspect that for most American audiences it would be more interesting than Spirited Away. The story is more similar to other westerns stories.

The only negative thing is that the movie is shown along with a 20 or 30 minute short that comes before the main movie. The short wasn't bad per say, it's done kind of in the style of My Neighbors the Yamadas. It reminded me of shorts you often see at an animation film festival. While parts of it were interesting I was having trouble staying awake. Also interesting is that the short didn't seem aimed at kids where as the main movie would certainly appeal to kids "of all ages" The short was also just random stuff. First 3 co−workers go eat curry rice and some place where the hotter you order it the cheaper it gets. After each person orders and has the plates in front of them the store owner says that the discount is only if they can finish in 20 minutes or less. Most people can't finish as it's too hot and so they have to pay full price. After that skit the next 3 minutes is those characters doing strange modern dance moves in various animation styles. It was just bizarre, especially not expecting it having come to see the main movie.

Between the short and the main movie there was about a 10 minute intermission. I was worried the main movie would not keep me awake but it started pretty quick and immediately grabbed my interest so I guess what I'm saying is "check it out!" and don't walk out during the short 😊

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