Review: A Whisker Away is Formulaic but Enjoyable

Coming from Studio Colorido, which is also animating ‘Burn the Witch’, Netflix’s ‘A Whisker Away’ was previously scheduled to release in Japanese theaters. But amid the coronavirus pandemic, it has now found its way to Netflix and worldwide anime fans will certainly not complain about this one.‘A Whisker Away’ is a simplistic slice-of-life romance anime that drives its narrative with its coming-of-age themes and captivating fantastical twists. Unlike better-known anime movies such as ‘A Silent Voice’, it never deals with any complex didactic subject matter. Neither does it involve complex time travel tropes or harrowing tales of survival. But with its intriguing premise and appreciable visuals, it keeps you well entertained.

A Whisker Away Plot Summary

Muge, an eccentric high school girl, is the main protagonist of ‘A Whiskey Away.’ She’s the kind of teen who completely despises the world around her. But then comes a time when she falls for a boy from her class named Kento. Unfortunately for her, after a few brief moments of intimacy at a local festival, Kento starts ignoring her. And the more she tries to get his attention at school, the more drifts away from her.

As a result of being ignored by the only person who she cares about, Muge makes a deal with a Neko (“cat”) godly entity. The godly being gives her the opportunity to become a cat wherever she wants and she uses her cat appearance to get closer to Kento. Realizing that he really approves of her cat demeanor, Muge slowly begins to give up on her identity as a human only to eventually realize that she made a big mistake by getting involved with the Neko god’s scheme.

A Whisker Away Review

At its surface, ‘A Whisker Away’ isn’t any different from most fantasy romance anime out there. Even its traditional linear narration style feels a little tedious at times and lacks everything but creativity and coming-of-age melodrama. And as much as I do appreciate how focused it remains throughout its runtime, its lack of humor certainly weighs it down. But one of the best aspects of the storyline is its impressive world-building. Even with its flaccid runtime, the anime movie manages to bring several zany characters, well-crafted realms, and magic elements to its fore. It divides its world into two realms where one includes normal humans, while the other is a cat realm where anthropomorphic cats live with one another.

A deeper look at its premise makes you realize that, despite being inclined towards the fantasy genre, the film alludes to real-life with its characters. Muge’s part of the story is all about a teen’s urge to seek escapism. It also shows how as people, we often tend to completely change ourselves just to be liked by others only to later realize that the change was not worth it. Along with escapism, there’s also a dash of other high school-centric themes surrounding bullying, and the turbulent waters of unrequited teen love.

When it comes to its art, there are moments where it lacks enough detail. It also seems a little glitchy in the initial moments of the film. Even so, considering how Studio Colorido is still an up-and-coming studio, I was blown away by the overall art style. The setting of the anime, for the most part, involves bright color in its palette which very well comes in tandem with its romantic drama. But when the storyline starts hitting some somber notes, the Studio clearly does not shy away from darkening the tone of its animation style. This contrast gives a subtle flow to the events of the movie, and at times, it even reminds you of Makoto Shinkai’s works.

The sound design of the anime is well-timed and fits well with the anime’s themes, to say the least. Most of these scores would otherwise go unnoticed, but the quaint visuals of the anime’s small coastal town they’re complemented with, give them new life. Overall, although not exceptionally unique, ‘A Whisker Away’ manages to hit the right notes with its well-intentioned themes and enchanting world-building. There are moments when it falls short of your expectations but none of its flaws detract its overall charm.

Rating: 2.5/5

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