Cats have always impressed us. They are mysterious, and seem to have their own ways of doing things. Us humans sometimes feel like we are just a mere tool to them. They have been a source of inspiration for many artists, be it books, movies, songs… Since we already introduced you to some « kids » movies (we are never too old to enjoy these!), I figured that the Ghibli movies would be a great transition. Even if they indeed indubitably have this childlike innocence to them, they also have different levels of reading. Additionally, they tackle complex issues such as death, frustration, loneliness, love etc. But we are drifting from our main subject, which is, of course, kitties!

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) Hayao Miyazaki

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This movie, written, produced and directed by Hazao Miyazaki, is an adaptation of the novel of the same name written by Eiko Kadono in 1985.

Kiki is a thirteen-year-old trainee witch. She always dresses in black, and, of course, she has a black cat named Jiji. In this beautiful movie (look at those drawings, those landscapes and how cute little Jiji is!), witches’ cats can talk with their owner. This is proof that the witch has indeed magic powers. For the sake of the initiation ritual, Kiki has to go to a new city alone (except for her cat), and uses her flying abilities to earn a living. One day, she loses those abilities, and is no longer able to speak with Jiji. This can be seen as a metaphor for an artist’s block, or simply for what a child can go through during adolescence.

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Jiji is then, in addition to being adorable, a mean of showing how children can experience frightening changes as they grow up. It also shows that, as frightening as they may be, it is possible to overcome them! For this article to not be too serious, here is a clip of that little cutiepie. (“mite, mite” roughly translates into “Look!”)

In the English version, for some strange reason, in English Jiji has a really deep voice, which makes him somewhat hilarious!

The Secret World of Arrietty (2010) Hiromasa Yonebayashi

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Niya, the cat in this movie (directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and scripted by Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa) is depicted in a more classic way. And by that we mean that he has your typical cat behaviour. The eponymous heroin Arrietty, who is a Borrower (aka a really small human creature who steals to survive), is chased by him several times. Bad kitty!!

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Even though he is a ferocious predator, he still loves his owner deeply, as we can see in this picture. Despite the cat doing typical cat stuff, this movie is actually quite deep and moving. It deals with a young boy who is suffering from a severe illness. No spoilers though.


The Cat Returns
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(2002) Hiroyuki Morita

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 This movie was inspired by a manga by Aoi Hiiragi. Here, cats are the theme and the main subject of the movie. The heroin, Haru, is a quiet and shy high school student who one day saves a cat from being hit by a truck on the road. Turns out this cat is a prince, and he offers to marry her. Her mixed answer is taken as a yes.

Even if the story may sound like the more original of them all, this movie is probably the most serious one. Some say that it has a more realistic, cruder sense of the world then Miyazaki’s movies for instance.

 

My Neighbor Totoro, (1988) Hayao Miyazaki

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Our last movie is probably the most famous one. Indeed, you were probably waiting for it to show up all along! Don’t you worry, I could not write about cats in Ghibli movies without mentioning the fantastic Cat Bus.

This mysterious creature will help the two heroines, Mei and Satsuki, when they need it the most. He also gives a typical example of cat behaviour: he appears whenever he wants to and not on command, and cannot be understood by humans. The film won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize and the Mainichi Film Award and Kinema Junpo Award for Best Film in 1988. It also received the Special Award at the Blue Ribbon Awards in the same year. The movie and its titular character, Totoro, have now become cultural icons!

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At Poopy Cat we love those movies. They are really worth watching, be at 9 or 99 years old! And if you’ve already seen them, they have so much different reading levels that it won’t hurt to enjoy them one more time!