A whisker Away


  • Genre : Romance, Supernatural, Cats, School
  • Length: 1 hour, 44 mins
  • Studio: Studio Colorido


Have you ever wanted to be a cat? Tossing aside all the worries and disappointments of life. No more homework, no more social anxiety, no more having to deal with selfish adults who don’t consider how their actions are going to affect you! Just long days of lazing about in the sun, having everyone pet and feed you and going on nightly adventures through the town. Sounds pretty good no? Ohh and how about if the guy you happen to like doesn’t really give you the time of day but really really likes to cuddle with kitties? Does that sweeten the deal. Sounds pretty good to me. But is it good enough to leave your humanity behind forever?

For the past two Sundays I have been watching anime movies instead of my usual series and I’m digging it. There was a time when I use to watch movies almost exclusively (as opposed to shows or series), because I preferred that restrained format that assured a narrative payoff in a reasonable amount of time. Eventually, I started to find the restraints a bit too limiting and discovered that the 12 episode single anime season was an even better format. I’m rediscovering the unique qualities of movies lately and I appreciate that both are their own thing with advantages and disadvantages. But let’s talk about A Whisker Away.

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I would also follow a giant cat – I’m not that smart…

I discovered the existence of A Whisker Away when trying to figure out my shows for the summer season. I was pretty surprised to see that it was a Netflix Original I had somehow never heard of. Not only that but it was already available on Netflix Canada! I pretty much watched it right then and there!

I don’t know whether to chalk it up to Netflix or Studio Colorido, with who I was unfamiliar, but the production is solid. Actually past solid. It’s very pretty to look at. The character designs have something a bit nostalgic, maybe even Ghibli like, the colours are rich and light and shadow effects really bring everything to life.

Voice acting is great. Main character Miyo is a bit over energetic and that does carry one in the performance, so viewers that don’t have too much patience for genki characters may find it a bit annoying but it’s well acted and the rest of the cast are just as talented. I found that Natsuki Hanae’s slightly weary delivery as Kento went a long way to sell the boy’s troubled spirit and inner turmoil over not living up to his mother’s expectations.

All of this said, for me, the real star of the production were the backgrounds. They were all gorgeous. One of those shows that make me want to book a ticket to Japan right then land there. And even the interior designs were beautiful. With Miyo and Kento’s houses looking welcoming and functional while completely different in style. You know what, how about I just show you what I mean:

As far as stories go, A Whisker Away is a simple young love story with a supernatural twist. There’s nothing that unusual about it but it doesn’t need to be. Like the designs, the story also evokes a certain nostalgia with a fairly uncomplicated romance that relies on the strength of it’s characters. I say uncomplicated but I guess the cat stuff does get a bit out there…

By necessity, movie characters are often much less developed than series ones, just by virtue of there having much less time for development. This is also the case here. Miyo and Kento’s arcs are pretty minimal with them basically just learning one lesson and slightly changing from it. But their characters are very well established. Both of them have slightly complicated home lives and recent events that they are still trying to properly accept and move on from. Both of them have obvious flaws and some great strengths. They are rather complete, which is the main reason this story works, in my opinion.

The rest of the cast is given very little to do and serves mostly as plot devices, with the exception of Miyo’s best friend Yori who happens to be best girl. Yori, I wish you were my friend too.

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there are some pretty cool cats as well

The real core of the story is the developing relationship between these two students. It was refreshing to see how open and verbal Miyo is with her feelings. She finds nothing embarrassing about being completely head over heels over a boy and makes absolutely no attempt to hide it. To the contrary. It can be a bit exhausting but after so many blushing violet main characters, I found it refreshing. Why should we be embarrassed about liking something? Liking things is great! OK, it depends on the things…

The latter half of the movie, gets deeper into the supernatural aspects and becomes more of an action adventure. This is not an uncommon progression either but the two meld together quite well and the action never feels forced or contrived.

I have to admit, the happy ending did get a bit too sappy for me in those final moments. At the same time, when I thought for a second that they might be going for a bitter sweet sort of conclusion, I realized that I really wanted a, uncompromisingly, almost impossibly happy ending. And I was happy I got it. Some stills during the closing credits show what happens after the end of the movie and inject a lot of joy and humour into that ending which I think manages to even it out nicely and redeem most of the sap.

All in all, this was a wonderful little movie to watch on a Sunday afternoon. It transported me back to a time where I would sit wide eyed, way too close to the TV, and watch a Ghibli release. Also the cats were cute. I like cats! That helps!

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Favorite character: Yoriko Fukase (my future BFF)

What this anime taught me: Cats have their own bars?

“No matter how much cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens”

Suggested drink: Salty Cat

  • Every time Yori is…patient  – take a sip
  • Every time Kento is annoyed  – take a sip
  • Every time Miyo has a bad relationship with a cat – take a sip
  • Every time we see the mask salesman – gasp
  • Every time people turn into scarecrows – admire the symbolism
  • Every time anyone is in the pottery studio – raise your glass
  • Every time we see Sakaguchi – fan yourself
  • Every time Miyo gets into a confrontation – take a sip
  • Every time we actually see the mask – take a sip
  • Every time Kaoru tries to reach out – awww
  • Every time we are reminded of the night of the festival – get jealous that you don’t get to go to a festival

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Some more images for you. It’s actually a very pretty movie. As always, the rest are on Pinterest.

26 thoughts

  1. @Dawnstorm I heard the same thing as well.

    I actually didn’t like this all that much, although it was fine enough that I finished it. Once someone comes in with a “well, there’s a nonsensical thing here…” I’m easily persuaded, and that’s exactly what happened. (The exact story is that someone who’d watched it partway by themself – and was watching with me to complete it – told me it starts to get fantastical and more absurd as the movie goes on, so by the end we’d heckled it a bit.) I also have somewhat of a…you can’t really say “disdain” because it’s not that bad, but a milder version (it’s a kind of “I respectfully disagree” kind of state)…for Mari Okada, because I know a lot of things I’ve tried which majorly involve her are far too melodramatic for me.

    One of the comments I seem to have had about this movie is that because Ghibli came first, no one can out-Ghibli Ghibli. This is in connection to the Shinkai movie Children who Chase Lost Voices, which was considered – by opinions I read online – to be “trying to be the next Ghibli” and I’d agree. I think much the same of A Whisker Away.

  2. Studio Colorido has been doing some good animation work for a long time, and this pretty much just adds to the list of that.

    The story was pretty simplistic, but refreshing in the twist that was placed upon the film as well. I enjoyed the characters, although I felt the ending of the film took a bit too much time wanting to reveal what was inevitably going to be the end result.

    Definitely a good film though! Thanks for the solid review about this film that flew under the radar for most.

    Also, cats will always be good.

  3. Sorry it took me a while to get to this one, my feed is pretty jacked up because so loser keeps posting non-stop today…might have to hit them with an unfollow. Yeah, this mirrored my thoughts on the movie pretty well. Good job!

    1. I think I enjoyed it a bit more than you did which is surprising considering our respective appreciations of the romance genre

  4. It was a delightful time ^^ I just wish they would have given a little more time to her family matter. Show her slowly learn to accept them.

    And yup, we all need a Yori in our lives !

    1. I would have enjoyed another 15 minutes to this movie but it’s not like it felt rushed or anything

  5. I don’t watch many animated movies, or movies in general, for that matter. Definitely not my favourite medium for storytelling. But… wow, is this one ever pretty.

    “Every time we are reminded of the night of the festival – get jealous that you don’t get to go to a festival”
    Big mood. It’s the peak of matsuri season in Japan right now. So much culture and tradition that I’ll never get to experience. Most of the festivals we have in Ottawa are insults to the word “festival.” It really does feel like I was born on the wrong side of the planet sometimes… actually, most of the time.

    1. All our summer movie festivals, including Fantasia where I usually get the chance to see a handful of awesome anime movies before anyone else are obviously not happening this year.

    1. I’M not a romance fan either yet there you go. In a weird way, the romance is sort of incidental

  6. Wow, thank you so much for your review! I watched this K-drama series called, Meow the Secret Boy, and the premise of this anime film reminded me of it. After reading your review, I’m convinced that it’s worth the ~2 hours. It’s nice to hear that the main character is brave to show her feelings, and you are certainly right about those backgrounds – picturesque, so realistic!

    1. This movie was really cute!! Even without the dubbing for my little fella who is sitting right beside me while I was watching this movie he was super engaged with it.

      1. The images are quite pretty and the animation was fluid. I assume it’s great to watch even without all the context

  7. Ooh, that was a nice film. I only learned after watching it that it’s yet another Junichi Sato/Mari Okada collaboration. It’s, IMO, their second best. It goes like this:

    1. Amazing Twins
    2. A Whisker Away (I don’t like the English title, and would have used the Japanese one had I remembered it)
    3. M3 (I liked M3 more than almost anyone else I know.)

    This really was a nice show; time watching it was time well spent. I agree that Yoriko is the best. Gotta love her little desk stomp as she chases after her distraught friend.

    I hear the theatrical release would have fallen right into the middle of the pandemic, so instead of waiting they released it straight to Netflix streaming. That might explain the lack of advertisment (if all the marketing budget went into promoting a theatrical release that never happened). Not sure whether it’s a rumour, or true.

      1. Yeah, it would be a pity if this film ended up a victim of circumstance. I can’t gauge the effect Netflix has on anime sales.

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