In the anime movie Whisper of the Heart, there is a scene where we meet a grey cat statue wearing a tuxedo. Later on, the main character Shizuku writes a story featuring this cat, named Baron von Gikkingen. Baron The Cat Returns, by Aoi Hiiragi is that story.
On the way home from school one day, Haru uses her friend's lacrosse stick to save the life of a cat about to be run over by a delivery truck. When she runs up to the kitty to make sure that he's all right, he not only bows in thanks but also promises to show his gratitude at a later date, as he is pressed for time.
Unfortunately, the crown prince of the Kingdom of Cats and his father the King have a very distinctive, very cat-like way of showing their appreciation. After a very strange day of cat-presents such as wafting catnip and cases of canned mice, Haru is kidnapped to the Kingdom of Cats, where she is slowly transformed into a cat herself, and finds her betrothed to Prince Lune.
Thankfully, before she is taken, she manages to make a few friends that could help her. A voice leads her to Baron Humbert von Gikkigen, as well as Muta, a rather fat, piggy-looking white cat. The Baron lives in the world of objects with souls. If an object is created or owned by someone who pours the hopes and dreams into it, it eventually develops a soul of its own, and that aspect lives slightly out of sync with the rest of the world, in the world of objects with souls.
She has a few allies already in the Kingdom of Cats as well. Not surprisingly, Prince Lune has his own preference as to who he wishes to marry. And this female kitty has a connection back to Haru as well.
This is very much a children's fairy tale in the same vein as Alice in Wonderland or Kiki's Delivery Service. Besides the standard morals of doing what's right, there really isn't anything to learn or a deeper meaning to the story. It targets the same audience as Whisper of the Heart, but with a much lighter tone. Still, as long as that's what the reader wants out of the book, it's a very nice read.
Highs: Haru meeting Lune's girlfriend
Lows: The edition that I have, instead of translating sound effects in panel has a list of them in the back of the book. In a book where many panels only have sound effects instead of dialog, this becomes very frustrating
Verdict: Worth reading when in the mood for a light, fluffy fairy tale
Further Reading: Castle in the Sky, Alice in Wonderland