A Whisker Away (Japanese: 泣きたい私は猫をかぶる, Hepburn: Nakitai Watashi wa Neko o Kaburu, lit. "Wanting to Cry, I Pretend to Be a Cat") is a 2020 Japanese animated film produced by Studio Colorido, Toho Animation and Twin Engine. Directed by Junichi Sato and Tomotaka Shibayama, the film was released on June 18, 2020, on Netflix in Japanese.
|A Whisker Away|
|Literally||Wanting to Cry, I Pretend to Be a Cat|
|Written by||Mari Okada|
|Music by||Mina Kubota|
Miyo Sasaki is an unhappy middle school girl living in the town of Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture who does not get along with her stepmother Kaoru after her mother Miki Sasaki left. Each day at school, she goes out of her way to flirt with her crush, Kento Hinode, in spite of his repeated rejections. One day, Miyo receives a magical Noh mask from a mysterious mask seller, which lets her become a cat. As "Tarō", she spends time with Hinode at his home, keeps him company while he studies Japanese pottery, and listens to his problems. She longs to confess that the cat that he loves and the girl that he hates are the same person, but is afraid that he will reject her and refuse to visit with Tarō anymore.
One day, Miyo overhears a pair of boys at school talking trash about Hinode, and loudly intervenes by jumping off the school building to defend his honor. She hurts herself during the jump, and for the first time, Hinode shows warmth to her as he takes her to the nurse and shares his lunch with her. Later that evening, as Tarō, Miyo learns that Hinode's family is closing their pottery shop, as the family can no longer afford it. Hinode's kindness towards her, combined with a need to cheer him up at the loss of his hobby inspires Miyo to confess her love in the form of a letter. The next day in class, a boy snatches the note before she can deliver it and reads it aloud, embarrassing both Miyo and Hinode. Hinode saves face by publicly telling Miyo that he hates her.
Miyo later visits Hinode as Tarō and spends the night with him. In the morning, she decides that life with Hinode as a cat is better than life without him as a human, and her human face falls off in the form of a porcelain mask. The mask seller appears to claim Miyo's face and tells her that he will give it to a cat who wants to become human. Miyo's friends and family begin searching for her, including Hinode, who confesses to Tarō that he doesn't really hate Miyo. Trapped in her cat body, Miyo begins losing her ability to understand humans and regrets her choice. Kinako, Kaoru's cat, obtains Miyo's human face from the mask seller and takes over her human life. Miyo implores her to return her face, but Kinako refuses, explaining that she is approaching the end of her natural lifespan but wishes to continue living and bringing happiness to her owner.
Miyo follows the mask seller to the secret Island of Cats where she hopes to convince him to turn her back into a human. Meanwhile, Kinako comes to understand just how much Miyo's stepmom loved her cat and has a change of heart. She reveals the secret of the masks to Hinode and takes him to the island to save Miyo before her transformation becomes permanent. Kinako gives Hinode a cat mask, which turns him into a half-cat but only the hands. Kinako and Hinode are trapped by the mask seller but are rescued by Miyo and another cat who used to be a human. When Kinako is about to give Miyo her face back, the mask seller takes Miyo.
While Hinode eventually finds Miyo, the mask seller takes them to the "promised place". Miyo finally realized her selfish mistake and started to tackle the mask Seller demanding her human face back. The mask seller attempts to finalize Miyo's and Hinode's transformation by extracting their lifespan, but is foiled by all of the resentful humans that he had previously turned into cats. As they travel back to the human world, Miyo and Hinode confess their love to each other and Kinako returns Miyo's face, returning her to normal.
The credits show Miyo telling her friend about how Hinode loves her, Hinode telling his mother that he wants to do pottery, and Hinode doing Miyo's signature "Hinode sunrise attack" to her.
|Character||Japanese voice||English voice|
|Miyo "Muge" Sasaki / Tarō||Mirai Shida||Cherami Leigh|
|Kento Hinode||Natsuki Hanae||Johnny Yong Bosch|
|Kusugi-sensei||Hiroaki Ogi||Robert Buchholz|
|Mask seller||Kōichi Yamadera||Keith Silverstein|
|Kaoru Mizutani||Ayako Kawasumi||Laura Post|
|Masamichi Isami||Kensho Ono||Griffin Burns|
|Yoriko Fukase||Minako Kotobuki||Erika Harlacher|
|Miki Saitō||Sayaka Ohara||Reba Buhr|
|Yōji Sasaki||Susumu Chiba||Todd Haberkorn|
|Kenzo Hinode||Motomu Kiyokawa||Kirk Thornton|
|Shōta Bannai||Wataru Komada||Bryce Papenbrook|
|Ayumu Niibori||Yūsuke Nagano||Griffin Puatu|
|Tomoya Sakaguchi||Daisuke Namikawa|
|Kinako||Eri Kitamura||Cristina Vee|
|Yumi Hinode||Rina Kitagawa|
|Shiori Mizoguchi||Rie Hikisaka||Kira Buckland|
|Sachiko Hinode||Emi Shinohara|
The film was animated by Studio Colorido. The film takes place in Tokoname, Japan, since director Shibayama Tomotaka grew up there. Many scenes in the film are directly taken from actual places in the town.
In May 2020, a manga adaptation was announced. Its first volume was released on June 10, 2020.
|01||June 18, 2020||978-4041096192|
|02||December 10, 2020||978-4041108093|
The film was originally scheduled for release in Japanese theaters on June 5, 2020, but it was pulled from the schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film was then sold to Netflix who released it digitally on June 18, 2020. On September 18, 2020, it was announced the film will have a limited theatrical run in Japan throughout October 2020. In Japan, the film was released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 23, 2021.
On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 93% based on 14 reviews, with an average rating of 7.7/10. Lawrence Bennie of UK Film Review awarded it four out of five stars, calling it "Sweet, cute and charming", and "a great piece of anime escapism". Jamie Morris of LeftLion also awarded it a positive review, saying it will “give plenty of people a reason to smile.”
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- "You can now visit the setting of "A Whisker Away" in Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture".
- "You Can Now Visit Real-Life Locations of 'A Whisker Away' in Japan".
- "A Whisker Away Anime Film's Video Reveals Yorushika Ending Song". Anime News Network. June 12, 2020. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
- "Studio Colorido's A Whisker Away Anime Film Gets Manga". Anime News Network. 2020-05-17. Retrieved 2020-05-17.
- "Nakitai Watashi wa Neko o Kaburu Film Delayed Due to COVID-19". Anime News Network. April 26, 2020. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
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- "A Whisker Away Film Gets Limited Theatrical Run After COVID-19 Delay". Anime News Network. September 21, 2020. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
- "Nakitai Watashi wa Neko wo Kaburu DVD/Blu-ray". Nakitai Watashi wa Neko wo Kaburu Website. March 19, 2021. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
- "A Whisker Away". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
- Bennie, Lawrence (June 19, 2020). "A Whisker Away Netflix film review". UK Film Review. Retrieved December 31, 2020.
- Morris, James (June 18, 2020). "Film Review: A Whisker Away". LeftLion. Retrieved December 31, 2020.
- "Japan's first! Winner of the Best Animation Work Award "I want to cry I wear a cat"". Sanspo. 4 December 2020. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
- "The 24th Animation Category Excellence Award". Japan Media Arts Festival. Retrieved August 17, 2021.