So looking at this through the eyes of a Cinderella story, we see how opposite it is pretty early. Haru lives with her mother. Her father is not mentioned, but definitely no wicked step-mother or sisters are represented. Also, they do not appear to be poor. She is not cleaning the house or sleeping on the floor.
She does not save Prince Lune (Andrew Bevis) because she wants to marry him. She saves the cat because she is a good person. And the king comes to find her. The prince does not seek her out like in Cinderella. The Cat King (Tim Curry) finds her and decides she is going to marry his son.
Also, Haru is showered “a perfectly marvelous array of gifts” delivered from the cats. They are quite strange (mice... cattails...), but she gets them none the less. The only gifts Cinderella got were for the ball from her fairy godmother and even those disappeared after a certain amount of time.
Another opposition is, in Cinderella, a female comes to help her: the fairy godmother. However, in The Cat Returns, Haru is aided by male characters: the Baron (Cary Elwes), Muta (Peter Boyle), and Toto (Elliott Gould). Cinderella had two, wicked step-sisters; Haru has three, magical animals.
Haru is also taken to the Cat Kingdom. She does not go willingly. Cinderella would love to live in the palace. Haru thinks “maybe [that] is the world she belong[s] in”, but she doesn’t want to stay there forever.
She does get a new dress given to her in the cat castle. But the big transformation is gradual. She gets the ears, nose, and paws first. She “is half cat already” and it only happens when she starts thinking she belongs in the Cat Kingdom. But in Cinderella, the transformation is instant by a magical wand and it is not guaranteed to stay.
Also, the king wants to keep her. He says “he can’t have her” when the Baron tries to rescue her. The prince has “already chosen his bride”, but the king won’t give her up none the less.
There is also a time limit in this story like in Cinderella. She has to “leave [there] by dawn” if she wants to “turn back into a human”. Cinderella had midnight, so Haru has a little longer.
Haru is the actual hero because she saves both the prince and Yuki (Judy Greer). So the night in shining armor is actually the woman. Crazy!
This movie has a fun twist on an old time fairytale. It shows the audience that being a princess in a magical world is not always ideal.
Here is an article that looks at the movie as a whole. However, the middle paragraph talks about how the appearance of the characters fits their personalities.
Again, I love the tropes and idioms site. Have a look at it for this movie.
Hope you enjoyed this week’s look at anime. Come back next week!