January 2nd, 2021

Penguin Beer

The Feline Solution

Sometimes when people say they want more freedom what they're really asking for is less. 2020's Nakitai Watashi wa Neko wo Kaburu (泣きたい私は猫をかぶる, "Wanting to Cry, I Pretend to Be a Cat", released in the U.S. as "A Whisker Away") depicts a young girl who thinks she'd have more freedom if she were a cat. A giant magical calico cat gives her the opportunity to test that theory. A film with pretty animation and design, it presents a satisfying and insightful character drama.

Miyo (Mirai Shida) has a crush on a boy named Hinode (Natsuki Hanae) and she's very demonstrative about it, much to his irritation. In the morning before class, she rushes him and pushes her butt against him. Something like this seems to happen every day.

He finds this behaviour irritating when she's human but he's a lot more comfortable with her when she's a cat--especially since he doesn't know the stray cat who invites herself into his home is in fact Miyo. Meanwhile, in Miyo's own home, she's having to adjust to a new step-mother and tries to handle it by putting up a constant front of politeness.

It's no wonder she thinks life would be simpler as a cat. Unfortunately, humans ultimately need more from a relationship, that's the burden of a human brain, and the film shows this in how she gradually starts to lose comprehension of human language.

The final act of the film is a little less interesting. Set in a magical cat realm, it defaults to a dim echo of a Miyazaki movie. But by this point the characters had been well written enough that their ultimate fates hold the viewer's interest.

Nakitai Watashi wa Neko wo Kaburu is available on Netflix worldwide.