As much as I told myself not to, I couldn’t stop thinking about the actual deception beneath A Whisker Away.
A Whisker Away (泣きたい私は猫をかぶる) Synopsis
Outspoken teen Sasaki Miyo struggles with several tragedies in her life. Her mother left her family years ago and her father is with another woman. Hinode Kento, her crush in school, also ignores her and is openly repulsed by her overt expressions of affection. When a shady cat spirit offers her a mask that could temporarily transform her into a cute feline, Miyo readily accepts and in her cat form, succeeds in getting near to Hinode. Little does she realise that the cat spirit is hardly helping her for the sake of her happiness. Her repeated use of the mask could also remove her humanity forever.
To start with, I quite enjoyed A Whisker Away, and was glad it debuted on Netflix.
As a lifelong lover of cats, the story immediately appealed to me. To then see Cat Island in its full imaginative glory is akin to a personal fantasy actualized.
I’d add that I utterly adored the antagonist too. Here’s one villain that’s perfectly slimy, seductive, and irresistible at the same time, while also superbly creepy. I’d put him up there with the likes of Pennywise and Freddie. He was just so macabre; for me, the life of the story.
Right, those are the good parts of A Whisker Away for me. On to the, erm, not so great things. Which is just one aspect.
In short, it’s the fact that the whole story is about a teenage girl’s desperation to win the love of a teenage boy. To the extent, she is willing to relinquish her body. (Just writing that feels wrong)
There is a significant sub-plot about Miyo wanting to escape her family too, but in the end, the story makes it crystal clear that she embraced the mask-seller’s offer largely because of Hinode. A proposal that allows her to be close to her crush.
Very physically close.
Now, I know such stories are common in Anime rom-com. Offensive as they might be by Western standards of feminine equality/empowerment, they are largely a non-issue in mainstream Japanese entertainment.
Still, it was uncomfortable to watch, and I say so as an international viewer. In the second half, I was mostly able to forget about this and lose myself in the supernatural developments. But the discomfort about what led to those developments never went away. That the two protagonists were both underage mid-teens doubly perturbed.
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