As any cat lover will tell you, felines operate under their own logic. Racing around as if chased by an invisible enemy, attacking pieces of lint– we’ll never understand why they do the things they do.

In Baron: The Cat Returns, an ordinary schoolgirl discovers that cats really do come from their own world when she rescues a feline prince from an oncoming truck. The king of cats wants to reward Haru for her kindness, but the cats’ idea of thanks (in addition to the cases of cat food that mysteriously appear at her house) is to make her the prince’s bride! Only the mysterious Baron, a toy cat come to life, can rescue her from her overly enthusiastic new friends. Haru’s adventure leads her into the land of cats and reunites her with a beloved former pet, but Haru must learn to let go of her old friend if she’s to escape turning into a cat forever.

Everything about Baron is stellar: art, storytelling, and translation. Fans of anime may recognize this manga as the inspiration for the Studio Ghibli anime The Cat Returns. Baron is part of Viz’s Studio Ghibli library, which includes manga adaptations of popular Studio Ghibli anime. Unlike these other titles, which are made up of movie stills, Baron was meant to be read in comic form. The drawing, layout, and pacing all work, and Haru’s dramatic escape from the land of cats on a ladder of birds is particularly exquisite. Like all the best children’s stories, this funny and creepy fairy tale won’t just appeal to children. It’s unclear whether further volumes will follow, but even on its own Baron: The Cat Returns is a must-buy.

Baron: The Cat Returns
by Aoi Hiiragi
ISBN: 9781591169567
Viz, 2005

  • Jennifer Webb

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support!

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