A Whisker Away (2020) Film Review: Still Want to Be a Cat?


The film A Whisker Away answers the cat lover’s question: what is it like to be a cat? Those feelings are channeled in a new animation from Netflix by Mari Okada and Studio Colorido. The existence drama of a teenager who feels that being a cat will make things more fun.

She is known as Miss Ultra Gaga and Enigmatic, hence the nickname Muge. Besides having a close friend named Yoji, Muge also likes his classmate, Hinode.

Muge lives with his father and stepmother. Quarreling with his stepmother, Muge meets a strange man who gives him a mask. With the mask, Muge turns into a cat and sneaks every after school to meet Hinode. Tired of his life as a human, Muge is determined to become a cat so that he can continue to be with Hinode.

Extension crisis
Like other teen films, most of which take the theme of existence and the journey to adulthood, A Whisker Away is no different. But there is something new, comparing the existence of humans with cats, cute mammals that are the life of this film.

The fantasy elements make for an imaginative plot instead of a hard-to-digest adult realism story. From Miyo/Muge’s journey with his family and friends, there are many lessons to be learned. Accept differences, convey feelings, and make peace with yourself and the situation.

The dynamics of the plot that was presented that had been built from the middle of the story was messed up towards the end of the film. When viewers are transported to a fantasy world full of cats, Cat Island. Changes in visuals and tones that are very different in the third act don’t blend in with the whole film.

Packed in a lot of emotion that displays the depth of character through beautiful animation from Studio Colorido. Miyo’s depiction is quite realistic with the problems she faces; the arrival of the stepmother and is not accepted by the person she likes. It’s too simple for an adult audience, but still interesting to follow.

‘Taste’ Studio Ghibli
The original translation of this animation is entitled “Wanting to Cry, I Pretend to Be a Cat”. Behind the English translation, the film A Whisker Away arguably takes a reference from the famous animation studio Ghibli, Spirited Away (2001).

Beautifully animated using the ‘default’ style of summer in Japan, some of the jokes about cats are sure to be understood by any animal lover.

The plot and story in this film are not even as strong as the cute and adorable cats throughout the story. If you claim to be a cat fan, this film can be a fun spectacle. Just like watching videos of cute cats scattered on Instagram or Twitter.

Overall, A Whisker Away is an ode to cat fans. Unfortunately the ode that comes without a solid plot, leaves several holes until the end of the story. Like children playing with themes, this film still feels juvenile when compared to the mighty Ghibli.