A Whisker Away leads the viewer onto a journey with middle schoolers Miyo Sasaki, (nicknamed Muge), and Kenta Hinode. It begins with a heavier focus on Miyo and we see through her point of view. Miyo receives a special mask from a vendor, and this mask allows her to become a cat when she puts it on. Miyo is also able to turn back into human form by performing a flip in cat form. She turns back into her human form, with the mask on her face.
As a Taro, a cat, Miyo is able to spend time with Kenta, whom she has a crush on.
Miyo spends time with Kenta as a human at school, and as a cat after school, though Miyo laments that she cannot confess as a cat and only as a human. As a cat, Miyo is loved by Kenta, and as a human, Miyo is not received as well.
A big theme of this movie is learning to accept oneself and to not run away from your problems. Kenta’s family’s pottery shop ends up closing, and Miyo decides that she wants to try and cheer him up. However, it does not go as planned, and Miyo instead is embarrassed by a failed confession and rejection from Kenta.
Miyo finds comfort in being with Kenta as a cat, and decides that it would be better to be just a cat and not a human. Miyo runs away from her problem by becoming a cat. The person who sold Miyo the mask, then claims Miyo’s human face and goes off to give it to a cat that wants to be a human, stranding Miyo.
There are basically two parts to this movie, both with fantastical elements. First, Miyo flirts with life as both a cat and human. However, once she makes the decision to give up on being a human, the second part begins. The point of view shifts more towards Kenta as he begins to understand the events that occurred. He realizes the cat that he had been playing with is indeed Miyo, and that she is in danger of being stuck as a cat forever. Kenta, in a race against time, must take back Miyo’s human face from the mask seller in order for Miya to regain her human form. He is led to the Island of Cats where he must track down the mask seller.
The art for this movie is not as vibrant or flashy as some. It is a more simplistic style showcasing a realistic view. Even in the second part of the movie where the viewer is introduced to a fantastical world where the cat spirits live is in the same style. It creates a quaint town feel like a real place, despite the obvious cat spirits walking around.
Overall, this movie has more laughs than tears, though there are both. It also keeps you guessing quite often on what will happen next. I, for one, did not expect the Island of Cats and was kept on the edge of my seat watching this new world and the events in it. I would recommend watching this movie, especially if you love cats!
Photos by author
Writer: Timothy Jung