‘A Whisker Away‘ is the English title for the Japanese anime film ‘Nakitai Watashi wa Neko wo Kaburu’ (‘Wanting to Cry, I Pretend to Be a Cat’). It is directed by Junichi Sato and Tomotaka Shibayama, being produced by Studio Colorido. Its English dub was done by Netflix, who released the movie internationally. This review covers the dub.
Miyo Sasaki (Cherami Leigh) is a middle-schooler living in Tokoname, Japan. Her mother Miki (Reba Buhr) left her father Yōji (Todd Haberkorn), who has taken a new wife Kaoru (Laura Post). Miyo does not get along with her stepmother, who tries to be kind, or her pet cat. At school, she constantly flirts with her classmate Kento (Johnny Yong Bosch), who rebuffs her bold advances. Determined to win his heart, a magical and shady talking cat (Keith Silverstein) gives her a mask that turns her into a cat. In this form, she visits Kento who names her Tarō, declaring that he loves her. Being tempted to turn into a cat permanently by the mask seller, she does wish for that and loses her human form. She is now in a race against time to retake her body before the mask-seller leaves her as a feline forever.
Animation-wise, the movie is excellent. Studio Colorido has some stunning visuals that really pop onto the screen, especially when there is a sunset or a sunrise. I also felt that the human character designs were rendered very well. For me, the icing on the cake was the cats and their world. They have a separate place in the world compared to humans and the visual designs are completely eye-catching.
The voice acting was pretty good. The English cast was well chosen and I felt like all of them had a good grasp of the characters that they were portraying. It is nice to see how anime dubbing has evolved over the years and this feature was a nice reminder of how good they can be.
As for the story, I thought it was pretty straightforward. A little girl and a little boy are going through that stage in life where there is so much drama and the movie does a good job of capturing that while making it a “coming-of-age” story.
Towards the third act, they did introduce some characters that while new, they still had a significant impact on the climax. They seemed to come from nowhere, but they did help fill in some of the holes around the magic presented in the film. At one point in the film, it does somewhat veer from a human story with paranormal undertones to a somewhat supernatural plot. It was not jarring in any sense of the word, but it still was a big shift.
Overall, however, I did find it compelling. Miyo is outspoken and told to go along to get along. For this, she accuses everyone of being selfish in trying to silence her. Kento is the opposite, meek and silent, but wants to speak out. Though he rebuffs Miyo, he is secretly jealous of her for being so bold. These contrasting views make the story seem so much brighter as they grow to love. The characters develop and grow, plus we see all of the wonders that come from imagination.
Bottom line, A Whisker Away is stunning anime that brings to life the story of a young girl who just wants to get close to the people she loves. It is well-animated, beautifully rendered, and a story about love.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Minor violence, Some scary images
FAVORITE QUOTE: You smell just like the sun.
Check out the subtitled trailer below:
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