- Genre : Slice of life, drama, drama, cute
- Episodes : 12
- Studio: Zero-G
Subaru should be enjoying the prime of his life. His career as an author is picking up and he has dedicated fans who root for his success. His editor may be a bit needy but he truly cares about Subaru’s success and happiness. But Subaru was always a deeply introverted young man and with the recent unexpected death of his parents, he finds himself more alone than he’s ever been. Which suits him just fine thank you very much. Subaru is more than happy to live out the rest of his days all alone, focusing on his writing. At least he thought he was until difficult and stubborn little Haru reminded him that caring for others can be pretty nice too.
Ok. This is another summary I just couldn’t nail down. One day I will make a round-up of my favourite summaries I’ve written to figure out what they have in common… In the meantime though, let’s talk a bit about My Roommate is a Cat.
I was somewhat ambivalent about picking this one up. I’m not a person who enjoys being sad. I have no conception of the appeal of fiction that will “make you cry”. Mind you I cry at everything, mostly touching happy moments. Fact is watching people struggle through a difficult time, depressed and unhappy for episodes on end sounds horrible to me. Natsume is really on the edge of acceptable drama and that’s in large part because of how charming the characters are.
At first glance, My Roommate is a Cat looked like one of those shows. That exploit safeness for the material. The first episode thumbnail is a passed out Subaru with papers strewn around. The colour scheme is mostly rational but tends towards slightly greyish. While the art is cute but unremarkable. At first glance, nothing would lead you to think this isn’t a melodrama.
Well except perhaps Hiroto. He has a much more rounded design and orange colour scheme that screams comic relief!
The sound is equally subdued. Quiet music and calm voice acting. Everything is set up to make you think the recently orphaned Subaru is going to spend 12 episodes moping around and slowly sinking into depression while a cute kitty walks around the screen.
Thankfully that’s not what happens. Or rather it’s not exactly what happens. Iyashikei anime are heavily dependent on characters. If the audience likes them and manages to root for them, they’re going to like the show. Otherwise, you’re out of luck. Most of the cast are pleasant versions of the usual archetypes but it’s Subaru and Haru who manage to elevate the whole and make the series worth watching.
Both leads are delicate subversions of what you would expect these characters to be and that makes every aspect of My Roommate is a Cat so much more interesting. I should be fair here, they are delicate subversions of what I expected them to be…
For starters, there’s Haru, the titular cat in question. At first glance, she’s an adorable if stern-looking little cat. Not quite a kitten but still very small. For the first few episodes, she’s portrayed as the stereotypical self-centred glutton with little regard for anyone else but soon enough you discover a sensitive and caring little creature hardened by a difficult life and painful loss. It lends a lot of depth and dimension to pet characters that usually tend to coast more on cuteness than development.
It does help that every episode is essentially split in two with the latter half being the events of the first retold from Haru’s point of view. It was a fantastic device that stayed fresh and enjoyable all the way to the end. For those of us that have always longed to understand our pets, it was just a touch of wish fulfillment.
As for Subaru… I thought I had him figured out. The cool and antisocial author who has more time for his books than people. Or maybe the socially awkward genius just longing to be accepted. But he’s neither of these things. Certainly, socially awkward however also introverted rather than antisocial and mostly, desperately grappling with grief. In many ways, Subaru is still young and uncertain. He is going through one of the most difficult times of his life and like a lot of us, his pain is internal. It’s just this stifling emptiness you don’t quite know what to do with and it robs you of colour and joy.
Subaru is also a bit of a doofus and an airhead. He is often sweet and cares about the people around him. A lot softer and sweeter than I expected.
When you combine these layered personalities with the easy-going rhythm of the slice of life stories and the pleasant if a little bland, supporting characters, you get just enough to chew on to get that cathartic release. It’s a little sad at times and did skip some scenes but by the end, it left me smiling and refreshed.
A few episodes in I paused it to recommend it to my cat-loving friend. She said she had seen it and enjoyed it! So, there you go, that’s two of us!
Favourite character: Hiroto (best friend)
What this anime taught me: cats really do only care about food but it’s important!
Blacking out is just your brain’s way of clearing out your memory’s browser history
Suggested drink: Black Cat (duh)
- Every time Subaru talks to himself – listen
- Every time Subaru overreacts – take a sip
- Every time you feel bad for that poor editor – take a sip
- Every time Haru and Subaru connect for a moment – take a sip
- Every time anyone eats – get a snack
- Every time we see the pet shop – take a sip
- Every time anyone mentions “family” – pour some out
- Every time Subaru reads – take a sip
- if it’s little Subaru – squee
- Every time Subaru passes out – take a sip of water
- Every time we hear about Subaru’s story – pay attention