Part 2: Into the world of Cats
Wow, we’ve spent almost 1.5k words talking — or in my case, griping — about Muge already. Guess it’s time we talk more about the second half, where Muge is at risk of being stuck as a cat forever and the film becomes more of a fantasy adventure.
Muge’s fear of being stuck as a cat forever, at least, is something I can buy… Although her initial main reason is that she wouldn’t be able to confess to Hinode as a cat.
That Mask Seller who gave her the cat-transformation mask was shady from the start. I wanted to throw a cup at him like how the human-turned-cat did for trying to steal Muge’s lifespan and leaving her as a cat forever.
I like those former-human cats that Muge meets in the cat world’s former-human cat bar. Catvengers, assemble!
They’re an amazing bunch of cat-people, and there’s this one thing they said which stuck with me: Don’t run away from your problems, it’s not worth it. Face them, solve them, and it’ll all be okay.
The former humans all ran away and they regretted running away from their lives. To me, that’s an important lesson we should learn, even if it’s easier said than done.
I’m glad Muge decided to actually start talking about her problems however small the step was, and that she and Hinode got to know each other better to become a couple. I still fail at trying not to run from my problems, to be honest. It’s never easy to stand firm and face it head-on.
It’s a good message for sure, though the issues I had with the first half robbed it of its impact for me. However, I largely enjoyed the second half of A Whisker Away as a fantasy adventure. There wasn’t any Mugeness or horribly misplaced humour either, which was a huge boon.
I think the fantasy adventure parts were quite well-executed. The story was a lot more coherent and the scenes and characters seemed to fit better than the first half did.
It somehow felt a lot better compared to the first half, and it was this portrayal of a fantasy adventure that redeemed the first half. A lot of things started to make sense during the second half and helped me understand the haphazard first half.
The first half didn’t feel rushed, but it does have a lot — maybe too much — going on. We have Muge’s familial issues, her moments (as a cat) with Hinode, Hinode’s subplot about wanting to take over his grandfather’s pottery workshop but not having the courage to tell his mother, Muge’s school life, Muge’s ominous interactions with the mask seller, and a pointless subplot about Hinode’s sister liking their grandfather’s assistant. The last one is very minuscule, but it still felt like a waste of time that only served to provide a bit of a chuckle.
In contrast, the second half almost singularly focuses on Muge’s rescue, although it also brings Kinako and her character arc into the picture. It’d be great if the first half had a more focused vision too and gone deeper into, say, Muge’s family situation, because I felt like there wasn’t enough time spent on that despite its importance.
I definitely think that singular focus helped the story to become more coherent, but I would have really liked to know more about the mask-seller since he became the antagonist in the end.
He’s the shadiest dude I’ve ever seen, honestly. Not to mention he’s a stalker too.
What I’m curious about is the beginning, which implies that Muge accidentally ventured into the cat world as a child and first met the mask seller there. I might have simply forgotten, but I don’t think it was ever brought up later in the film.
I thought that the film would alternate between the human world and the cat world throughout, but we only get to properly check out the latter in the last 30 minutes or so. The visit doesn’t feel brief and I enjoyed the look and feel of the setting, but it also meant that we didn’t get a good grasp of the place.
I don’t even remember if they explained why they live around the Sacred Tree, and when I saw that they had cable cars I just thought, “Oh, so they have cable cars.”
We do know that they serve rats at least.
But for the most part, it’s:
Ultimately it didn’t bother me but, yeah.
Oh, I loved the backgrounds for Cat Island! I’d use them as a desktop background any day.
Also, I really like how smooth the film’s cat movements were, although I don’t have a cat so I can’t say if they were accurate.
You brought up a good point about the beginning. I almost forgot she most likely met the mask-seller as a child and accidentally went into Cat Island. I wish we had the chance to explore Cat Island too but… No time, yo – “Gotta find that future boyfriend AND turn myself back!”
Did I mention somehow running on a tree feels faster than riding on cable cars in the movie?
*shrugs* I’ll take that over Muge any day.
Cat Island aside, the film looks nice in general. I remember feeling some minor discontent about certain things, but I can’t recall the reason.
Animation-wise, there are three scenes I remember best. During a confrontation between Muge and two bullies (an actually decent dramatic scene), there’s a moment where one of the bullies is visibly at a loss once his partner-in-crime starts taking things too far. His body language and expressions in the background were subtle, but they conveyed the character’s state very well and really caught my eye.
As for the other two, one is Muge struggling to balance on a chair —
— and the other is her flailing:
I know the second scene was showing her, a teen, being excited by love stuff and all, but I was pretty creeped out by the intense movements tbh.
Okay, I get it, I know how much you dislike Muge. I do like how Muge and Hinode become each other’s support at the end and become just as enigmatic to each other. Our MVP Yoriko has her happy ending too with Hinode’s best friend, so I’m kinda happy overall. I mean, it’s super cute to see her blush and say “NO, NO, ISAMI AND I ARE NOT DATING!!” while Muge just smiles smugly.
Meanwhile, Hinode has been infected with the butt-bumping bug:
Yeah, I’m done.