The Cat Returns (2002)
猫の恩返し (Neko no Ongaeshi)


Haru is a clueless, ordinary 17-year-old girl. Neither has she any special abilities and nor is she an extraordinary beauty. When faced with reality, she is unable to make decisions for herself, thus often swaying to others’ opinions to avoid a challenge. One day, Haru saved the life of a cat without consideration for her safety. The cat turned out to be the Cat Prince from the Kingdom of Cats, however, as a result, Haru is trapped in the world of cats. Can Baron and Muta rescue Haru who has wandered in the world of cats?
Directed by
Written by
Screenplay by
Music by


  • The overall rating of the show.

Poor < Fair < Good < Great


  • Animation quality and consistency for that time. 

Poor < Fair < Good < Great


  • How well the story flows and keeps you engaged.

Poor < Fair < Good < Great


World building


Character development



The Cat Returns is a spin-off of Whisper of the Heart and was theatrically released in Japan on July 20, 2002, through Toho and in 2005 in the United States through Walt Disney Home Entertainment. It received an Excellence Prize at the 2002 Japan Media Arts Festival.

Alternative titles

– Neko no Ongaeshi
– The Cat Returns
– 猫の恩返し
– Das Königreich der Katzen
– Haru en el Reino de los Gatos
– Katino grįžimas
– Kissojen Valtakunta
– Království koček
– Le royaume des chats
– Macskák királysága
– Narzeczona dla kota
– O Reino dos Gatos
– Sihirli Kedi
– Возвращение кота
– Kráľovstvo mačiek
– O Reino Dos Gatos
– Ο Γάτος Επιστρέφει
– Котяча вдячність
– 猫之报恩
– 貓之報恩
– 고양이의 보은
– A Gratidão do Gato
– The Cat Returns the Favor
– The Cat`s Repayment
– Віддяка кота
– Кицина подяка
– Котката се завръща
– Кошачья благодарность
– عودة القط

TL;DR Review

The Cat Returns (Japanese: 猫の恩返し Hepburn: Neko no Ongaeshi, lit. The Cat’s Repayment) is a 2002 Japanese animated fantasy film directed by Hiroyuki Morita, based on the manga The Cat Returns by Aoi Hiiragi.

This is the second isekai anime from Studio Ghibli, just one year following their first isekai, Spirited Away. Though this is a spin-off of Whisper of the Heart, you don’t need to have seen that movie.

The art style and animation are good, but they aren’t as vibrant as your typical Studio Ghibli’s anime. Everything about the movie from the artwork, music, humor, and pacing is moderately good, but nothing screams excellent.

The demographic for the film is more for kids. The theme isn’t very profound so the movie is both relaxing and easy to watch, particularly if you like cats. The movie is cute and charming to watch but the over comical characteristics may make the film appear superfluous.

Recommended for the viewer that want something light and cute, but not overly deep. The Cat Returns contains light graphic violence and is intended for everyone.

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Closing Theme

– “Kaze ni Naru (Acoustic Version)” by Tsuji Ayano



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Photo by Nicolas LB, Jon Flobrant, and Yvette de Wit on Unsplash.

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