Director: Koichiro Miki
Cast: Sôta Fukushi, Mitsuki Takahata (voice), Yuko Takeuchi, Alice Hirose, Takuro Ohno, Ryosuke Yamamoto, Tomoya Maeno
RunTime: 1 hr 58 mins
Released By: Filmgarde
Opening Day: 26 October 2018
Synopsis: Adapted from the international bestselling novel by Hiro Arikawa. A cat isn’t just a pet – it’s family. Satoru (Sôta Fukushi – from BLEACH, LAUGHING UNDER THE CLOUDS and LAPLACE’S WITCH) has known this since childhood when he had a kitten Hachi who was always by his side through good times and bad. As an adult, Satoru then adopted a stray he named Nana (the voice of Mitsuki Takahata – from DESTINY: THE TALE OF KAMAKURA) after the poor cat was hit by a car but miraculously survived. However, Satoru must now unfortunately give his beloved cat Nana away. So, he travels to meet various important people in his life who may be able to take in Nana; his childhood best friend, a couple he knew in high school, and his favourite aunt.
It's not the journey that counts but who is at your side - Quote from The Travelling Cat Chronicles (Book)
Based on the best-selling book of the same name by Hiro Arikawa and translated to English by Philip Gabriel, The Travelling Cat Chronicles is a heartfelt movie narrated by a cat named Nana but deservedly made for busy, mortal human beings liked you and me.
The prologue tells us how Nana, a stray feline ends up being adopted by a young man, Satoru (Sota Fukushi from Bleach and Laplace’s Witch) after being involved in an accident while on the way to a “cat meeting”. Shortly after, we learnt that Satoru and Nana is going on a road trip as Satoru tries to find a new home for his beloved cat.
Why is Satoru giving up on Nana? Is he going abroad to work? Did he somehow develop a chronic allergic to cats? Well, it’s not a difficult question to answer if you are a seasoned movie-goer or you have actually finished reading the book yet it’s definitely a well-worth journey to tag along to find out why.
Their first stop is at a photo studio run by Satoru’s childhood best friend, Kosuke (Ryosuke Yamamoto). Although Kosuke on the surface looks like the best choice to adopt his cat since they both shared a liking for cats since young, his marriage at the moment is strained with his ill-tempered, cats-hating father not helping with the situation. But the biggest takeaway in this reunion is learning about Satoru’s tragic past. His doting parents were tragically killed in a traffic accident while the two were away on a field trip to Kyoto years ago. And this is the point where the entire story starts to unravel as we see a different side to our seemingly cheerful young man and protagonist, Satoru.
As they arrived next in an animals-friendly B&B in the mountainous region, we learnt that the place is run by a couple, Sugi (Takuro Ohno) and Chikako (Alice Hirose), both of them being former high school classmates of Satoru. Again, a touching flashback tells us that a teenage Chikako once had feelings for Satoru but the latter somehow decides to give up pursuing the relationship further upon knowing that Sugi also has feelings for Chikako. It’s another bittersweet meetup and unfruitful match for Nana (as she has trouble getting along with Sugi’s dog) as we continue our journey with Satoru and his furry friend.
Although Nana serves as the “voice” and narrator, she is more or less the comedic sidekick that provides the occasional laugh with her cynicism look at the world and the human companions around her. Always ready with some choice words, sarcastic and not easily bribed, Nana is the typical cocky feline who treasured her freedom though her love for her owner is never a doubt.
After exhausting all possibilities and travelling past the majestic Mt Fuji and lush canola field, their final stop happened to be at the house of Satoru’s aunt, Noriko (Yuko Takeuchi), the only selfless relative who adopted young Satoru after the death of his parents. By then, you probably had shed a couple of tears though not surprisingly the worst is yet to come as we learnt yet another piece of devasting truth about Satoru’s childhood.
Despite a never-ending list of sadness and negativities, The Travelling Cat Chronicles is at no time a movie about being despair or throwing in the towel in life. In fact, there is an immensely powerful message lying in the character of Satoru in which you need to watch this flick to believe in. Shockingly with a cat as a central character, this is actually not the typical pet movie but one enlightening movie that is filled to the brim with themes about friendship, family, love and life.
(Easily the contender for best movie of the year, The Travelling Cat Chronicles is ironically a dark movie that spreads positive messages while the cat provides comic relief)
Review by Linus Tee