A Whisker Away is a Japanese animated film released in 2020 by Studio Colorido, Toho Animation, and Twin Engine. The film, directed by Junichi Sato and Tomotaka Shibayama, was released in Japanese on Netflix on June 18, 2020. The English-language version was officially published on June 28, 2020, with the English dub following in June 2021.
A Whisker Away tells the story of Miyo, an unhappy young girl who struggles to fit in with her peers and doesn’t get along with her family well, especially her stepmother. She does, however, love to daydream about her crush (her fellow schoolmate, Hinode). One day she finds a mask that turns her into a cat. By becoming a cat, she’s able to spend more time with her crush. Yet, of course, blissful cat-dom can’t last forever, and things get complicated.
Plot revolving around Miyo
First of all, Miyo as the cat Taro is too cute. Her bright blue eyes and white fur will charm even the most hardened of cat haters! Miyo is also a character we can all relate to, with her insecurities and a fear of rejection we all face, especially as teenagers. The longer she stays being a cat, the harder it is for her to become human again.
The lighting and colors are the strongest part of this movie. It’s such a bright and colorful film, and the art alone inspires some real joyful tones. That was without any doubt my favorite aspect of the animation. That, and the design for Taro was so adorable, just one of the cutest animated cats that you’ll ever see.
The story is creative and unique. I can’t think of any other narratives where a teen turns into a cute animal. In addition to that, some themes of this movie are pretty heavy from, the impact of divorce to the importance of humanity.
The script is difficult to predict what is going to happen. Where this movie fell short was its characters. The only dynamic characters in the entire movie were Miyo and her stepmother’s cat Kinako. They provided interesting story arcs and pushed most of the movie’s themes on humanity and the costs of giving it up.
A Whisker Away – Portraying the theme of dealing with depression!
In A Whisker Away, Miyo was abandoned by her mother at a young age. However, it doesn’t seem like she lets that get to her. She is energetic and always laughing when others are looking, but when she is alone, she is often crying.
When she discovers a mask seller who can help her turn into a cat, she realizes this is a great way to get Hinode’s attention. Hinode immediately falls in love with the cat and is always taking care of her. Over time, he does start to realize similarities between Taro (the cat) and Miyo. For example, they both “smell like the sun.”, and when one gets injured, the other does as well.
As the movie goes on, the lines between cat and human get blurry for Miyo, and it seems she might give up her human life. Why? Because she is just so miserable and cannot see that some people truly care about her.
To me, this is a great metaphor for depression Miyo is willing to give up her life because she thinks it is not worth living. If that isn’t depression, I don’t know what is.
A Whisker Away is about depression and allowing yourself to be loved. For me, A Whisker Away is about love, but it is also about depression, and what it can do to you. If someone is depressed, they often feel like they want to disappear and it is hard for them to see that others care about them.