A Whisker Away (Nakitai Watashi wa Neko wo Kaburu): IT’S SO CUTE!!! – Netflix Mini-Review

It starts off kind of creepy, then straight to adorable.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Miyo Sasaki (Mirai Shida/Cherami Leigh) is a middle school girl with a crush on her classmate Kento Hinode (Natsuki Hanae/Johnny Yong Bosch). Unfortunately, while she is an outgoing and emotional person, Hinode is usually cold and distant. However, Miyo receives a mask from a talking cat (Koichi Yamadera/Keith Silverstein) that lets her turn into a cat whenever she puts it on. She uses this mask to pretend to be a stray cat that Hinode plays with, named “Taro.” Using her time as Hinode’s cat, she tries to build her relationship with him. Unfortunately, it turns out that magic tends to have a price in stories like this.

And no, she doesn’t get 8 extra lives by wearing it.

END SUMMARY

Okay, so, I realize that there’s something inherently a little weird about a story of spying on your crush, but a big part of the movie is that Miyo (or “Muge” as she is called) is being immature. As the movie continues, she starts to realize that her worldview has always been undeveloped and she grows as a result. At the same time, she starts to get a better picture of who Hinode is, which does nothing to deter her feelings, but instead deepens them. We discover that both of them are hurting, but that they both have responded to their pain in completely different ways. Their relationships with their families are strained by circumstances beyond their control and, like kids do, they have difficulty really coping with it.

Playing with pets is a normal way to cope. Playing AS pets, not so much.

The depth of the characterizations of the two leads is what makes A Whisker Away work. Miyo’s need for affection may make her seem weird to the rest of the world, but it’s just a representation of her desire to receive love. As a cat, she receives all of the cuddles she could ever ask for from the object of her desire. On the opposite end, Hinode is always repressing his feelings due to having to provide for his family. Their financial burden embarasses him a little and puts unnatural pressure on him to get a job to support them, but his loyalty to them prevents him from complaining. This is presented mostly through show rather than narration, which benefits heavily from the very expressive animation style. 

You can even get ideas about characters from how they eat.

That brings me to the animation, which is… just so damned cute. Seriously, when Miyo is “Taro,” she is one of the most adorably animated animals I’ve ever seen. She still has a lot of expressions that reflect her status as having human consciousness, but anyone who has owned a cat will still acknowledge that they can give you those looks. It gets even better when the film decides to say that every cat out there really IS sentient, even having a secret place to go that is accessible only to cats. Despite relying on a supernatural premise, the movie doesn’t really dip heavily into fantasy until the third act, and the slow build-up really helps heighten the drama. 

Omg, I want hugs so bad.

Overall, just a really cute movie, if a bit weird. I recommend giving it a try.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Drifting Dragons (Kūtei Doragonzu): A Fun Take on the Seafaring Story – Netflix Anime Mini-Review

Netflix gives us an anime adaptation of a steampunk series about hunting dragons.

SUMMARY

Welcome aboard the Quin Zaza, an airship crewed by a group of “Drakers” or people who hunt dragons for a living. Far from the typical depictions of monstrous fire-breathing lizards that destroy villages, dragons in this world are preyed upon by humans who use their oils for various resources and feast on their delicious meat. Takita (Sora Amamiya/Cassandra Lee Morris) is the enthusiastic new recruit aboard the vessel, serving alongside/under her sister Vanabelle (Kana Hanazawa/Colleen O’Shaughnessey). Other crew members include the gluttonous gourmand Mika (Tomoaki Maeno/Billy Kametz) and the cool and collected Jiro (Sōma Saitō/Johnny Yong Bosch). Most of the series is following their attempts to travel between the distant human settlements and keep the ship afloat by draking. 

They’re an eclectic bunch of personalities.

END SUMMARY

I honestly wouldn’t have thought I’d like this show, but I’ll have to admit that it grew on me quickly. The set-up and setting are both pretty solid surrogates for the whaling cultures of the 18th and early 19th centuries. However, in order to simulate the same conditions of whalers, having to go weeks or months stuck on a boat, this society has human settlements spread apart in a mostly feudal society (similar to Japan’s Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled during the 18th and early 19th centuries). As such, coming back to port is a big deal, despite the fact that they’re largely over land all of the time. The setting is kind of a perfect blend of steampunk elements with Western and Eastern history, but without all of the worries about historical issues complicating the narrative.

And people think Alaskan crab fishing is hard.

The nature of the show allows much of the story to focus less on the action of catching and killing dragons, but more on the slow character moments that take place aboard the ship. It has a lot of scenes dedicated to things like cooking and tasting the dragon meat, and I have to give the animation full credit here, it looks freaking delicious. Mika’s enthusiasm towards the subject and his very colorful descriptions of the taste and texture help sell it. In addition, a lot of the time on the ship is just spent trying to avoid boredom, filling it with chores and scheduling, just like you would imagine was true on a real whaling vessel. Much like Moby Dick, this forces the stories to be more character-driven and introspective. 

When you try to kill something bigger than your vehicle, you are probably a little nuts.

Overall, if you like Anime, this is probably a good one to check out. The episodes that are up really feel like a prelude, so I hope they keep the series going. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.