Fantasia 2018 Review: THE TRAVELLING CAT CHRONICLES Will Make You Purr
It's not often that I review family friendly melodramas. However, there was one at Fantasia 2018 that stood out, and I just couldn't resist. The Travelling Cat Chronicles from director Kôichirô Miki is based on the bestselling pet-lit book by Hiro Arikawa; if you were unaware of the novel, or haven't read it (like myself), this film adaptation will pique your interest. Watch the trailer over at the film's Fantasia page here.
Right from the start, The Travelling Cat Chronicles tugs at the heartstrings with a wounded kitty and the gushing empathy of the protagonist Satoru (played by the wonderful Sôta Fukushi --- incidentally, he's also in a whopping THREE other Fantasia 2018 films --- Bleach, Laughing Under the Clouds and Laplace's Witch).
Satoru goes on a trip through Japan as he visits old friends and attempts to re-home his longtime friend Nana, an incredible cat. I couldn't believe how well the actual animal was trained and captured on film. Backstories are revealed through flashbacks, which, in the hands of a less-gifted filmmaker, could easily have been cheesy or flat.
Warning: if you don't enjoy crying during a film, do not watch The Travelling Cat Chronicles. If you DO enjoy charming tales of what pets can mean to people, you won't want to miss this one. The story is such a touching, lovely unfurling of love, friendship, family, and death, that most of the hundreds of people in the Fantasia audience was in tears by the end, with one woman in particular sobbing in the dark.
That said, this is one of those films that is an excellent one to watch with children, particularly if you think you may need to prepare them for the harsh realities of death on any level. That's not to say that The Travelling Cat Chronicles is all doom and gloom; it's quite the opposite, and it takes the touch of a master storyteller to convey just the right tone and levels of sunshine through the rain. There are plenty of comedic moments, as the cat Nana quips sarcastically in voiceover to himself or another pet.
I can't say it enough; this is really quite a special film.
There are terrible melodramas, and there are fantastic ones that our society needs more of in especially dark timelines, such as the one we're living in now; I daresay that even with the sadness and death on display (more passing on, really), The Travelling Cat Chronicles is one of those rare films that reaffirms a broken faith in humanity and the ways that we are all connected. Hell, I'm tearing up as I write this review.
If you're a fan of cats, pets, or just fantastic stories that feel like a comforting cup of hot tea while the storm rages outside, catch The Travelling Cat Chronicles anywhere you can.
The Travelling Cat Chronicles
- Kôichirô Miki
- Hiro Arikawa (based on the novel by)
- Emiko Hiramatsu (screenplay)
- Sôta Fukushi
- Yûko Takeuchi