With its fanciful concept and animation technique, the picture is clearly aimed towards a younger audience. The “mask merchant” takes on the persona of the Cheshire Cat, complete with hilarious lines and incredible magical skills. The film is a wonderful illustration of how a teenage love tale can convey so many complex concepts. Miyo begins as a naive schoolgirl whose sole ambition is to marry her young love.
She struggles to communicate her true feelings of bewilderment and grief in her family life, preferring instead to hide behind a façade of joy and exuberance. By the end, she realises that it’s good to express one’s bad feelings rather than burying them. Miyo finally understands that wearing the cat mask was just another method for her to express herself.
Miyo Sasaki is an unhappy middle school girl from Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture, who has a strained relationship with her stepmother Kaoru after her mother Miki Sasaki departed. Despite his repeated rejections, she goes out of her way every day at school to flirt with her crush, Kento Hinode. Miyo acquires a mystical Noh mask from a strange mask merchant one day, allowing her to transform into a cat. She visits Hinode at his house as “Tar,” keeping him company as he studies Japanese pottery and listening to his worries. She wants to tell him that the cat he adores and the female he despises are the same person, but she’s terrified he’ll reject her.
Miyo overhears a pair of lads at school talk disparagingly about Hinode one day, and loudly intervenes by leaping from the school building to protect his dignity. She injures herself during the leap, and Hinode treats her with affection for the first time when he drives her to the nurse’s office and shares his lunch with her. Miyo finds out later that evening, as Tar, that Hinode’s family is closing their pottery store because they can no longer afford it. Miyo is inspired to proclaim her love in the form of a letter by Hinode’s compassion to her and a desire to cheer him up after the loss of his interest. A boy takes the note the next day in class before she can give it.
Miyo later disguised as Tar pays a visit to Hinode and spends the night with him. She decides that life with Hinode as a cat is preferable to life without him as a human in the morning, and her human face is replaced with a porcelain mask. Miyo’s face is claimed by the mask vendor, who says he would give it to a cat who want to become human. Miyo’s relatives and friends go looking for her, including Hinode, who admits to Tar that he doesn’t actually detest Miyo. Miyo begins to lose her capacity to understand people while trapped in her cat body and regrets her decision. Kaoru’s cat, Kinako, buys Miyo’s human face from the mask merchant and assumes control of her human life.
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How A Whisker Away Ended?
Miyo begs her to return her face, but Kinako refuses, claiming that she is nearing the end of her natural lifetime but still desires to live and offer joy to her owner. Miyo pursues the mask vendor to the hidden Island of Cats, hoping to persuade him to transform her back into a human.
Kinako, however, realises how much Miyo’s stepmother loves her cat and has a change of heart. She tells Hinode the mystery of the masks and leads him to the island to save Miyo before she transforms permanently. Hinode is given a cat mask by Kinako, which transforms him into a half-cat with only the hands.
The mask salesman traps Kinako and Hinode, but Miyo and another cat who used to be a human save them. The mask vendor kidnaps Miyo just as Kinako is ready to return her face to her. While Hinode ultimately locates Miyo, the mask vendor transports them to the “promised location.” Miyo suddenly recognised her egotistical error and confronted the mask seller, who demanded her human face back.
The mask salesman tries to complete Miyo and Hinode’s change by taking their lifetime, but is thwarted by all of the enraged people he has already transformed into cats. Miyo and Hinode express their love for each other as they return to the human world, and Kinako returns Miyo’s face, restoring her to her former self.
Miyo tells her friend about Hinode’s love for her, Hinode tells his mother that he wants to be a potter, and Hinode gives Miyo his characteristic “Hinode dawn attack.”
A Whisker Away takes on Miyo’s stalled growth, implying that she is stuck at the age she was when her parents divorced. Her would-be stepmom has the unenviable chore of cracking that hard, slippery nut, since she plainly does not want to cope with the anguish of abandonment she feels from her mother. So Miyo either escapes reality by imagining about lovey-dovey situations involving her and Hinode, or she indulges in the in-between by exploring the borough as a cat with her consciousness inside.