07th Sep2020

Fantasia 2020: ‘The Travelling Cat Chronicles’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Sota Fukushi, Yuko Takeuchi, Alice Hirose, Takuro Ohno | Written by Emiko Hiramatsu | Directed by Koichiro Miki

I will start this review by proclaiming that I am a cat lover. Always have been. My family had cats growing up and I’ve always loved them. Dogs, I’m not really fussed with but I can’t walk past a cat in the street without stopping and enjoying its company for a few minutes. So when I saw Fantasia Festival featured a film about a cat, I couldn’t wait to check it out.

Although the cats in The Travelling Cat Chronicles feature heavily in this movie, it is not actually all about them. We follow Satoru (Sota Fukushi) as he travels across Japan to find a new owner for his beloved cat, Nana (voiced by Mitsuki Takahata), who he can no longer look after. The film switches between current day and the past as we learn about Satoru’s previous cat and how he came to own Nana too, discovering why their relationship is so close. During Nana’s time on screen we get to hear her inner voice – no-one on screen can hear it – and although this isn’t an original concept, it works really well and helps understand the emotion in the story.

This isn’t a movie just for people like myself who love cats though. It’s for anyone who has loved anyone, pet or another human being. You will understand the connection Satoru and Nana have. There’s no better word than beautiful and you will smile at every scene with the two. That said, if you do love cats, you might as well give this film an extra ‘star’ marking because you will enjoy it that little bit more.

The cast are extremely likeable and excellent in their roles. Many films seem to think they need a ‘villain’, even if it is just someone to make you like everyone else that little bit more but it is not needed or used here at all. We just get a group of nice people, at different points in their life, doing what they think is best. Sota Fukushi is fantastic in the lead though, you just can’t help but love the character and it wouldn’t work without his performance.

You might think that a cat couldn’t really ‘act’ or add much in this way but Nana is the perfect-looking cat. Her face is so full of expression and character that even when doing very little, she draws you in.

The story is perfectly paced and reveals its twists and turns at just the right moments. I’m not ashamed to admit that I shared a tear or two. Or three. Or maybe more! Let’s just say by the end of the movie I was a mess! It’s a bit of an emotional rollercoaster that had me smiling and crying in equal measures. The Travelling Cat Chronicles is a heart-warming tale that teaches us about life and death through the eyes of a cat and the family around her and it’s one of the most beautiful movies of 2020.

**** 4/5

The Travelling Cat Chronicles screened at this years Fantasia Festival, which took place Aug 20th – Sept 2nd 2020.


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