My Roommate is a Cat
by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 10 of
My Roommate is a Cat ?
This week, My Roommate is a Cat unexpectedly turned into a cooking anime. Or at least, a cooking anime for deadbeat millennials who don't know how to cook, like me or like Subaru. The focus this week is on making a meal especially for Haru, as well as everyone's concern that Subaru isn't eating enough himself. Still, he's finding that the more he worries about making sure Haru eats, the more he remembers to do it himself. Having a feline roommate around pushes Subaru to be a better version of himself than he would be on his own.
I have a couple of cats, Casey and Petey, who are pretty loud and obnoxious whenever people are eating. (Here's Petey screaming his head off during Thanksgiving.) They seem to ignore the fact that humans have to eat too and think every piece of food out there is for them—or they don't care. So the degree to which Haru, a hungry girl who also overreacts to food, cares so much about her owner's eating habits did stretch my disbelief. But what's the point of an anime that revolves around a cat's POV without a little humanization? I'm sure cats do worry about us sometimes, and if I had a roommate who eats as little and irregularly as Subaru does, I'd worry about him too. My Roommate is a Cat is classic iyashikei, healing in the way that it explores real life, but through a rosier and cuddlier version of it than reality.
Still, there's some realism present to bring us back down to Earth, mainly stemming from the portrayal of Subaru's social anxiety. The supermarket scene is likewise exaggerated; I've never had to worry about being literally trampled at the grocery store, and I live in the same city as the original Whole Foods. But it's exaggerated in a way that shows how those experiences can feel for someone with Subaru's level of social anxiety. Another funny moment with a tinge of the too-real is the way that he packs up on food he doesn't need because he just can't say no to all the friendly people offering him samples. Luckily, Hiroto is there to save the day and steer him back to what he's really there for: finding the ingredients for the food he plans to make for Haru, given in adorable crayon instructions from Human Haru.
I don't always love when anime drags kids into the mix, but My Roommate is a Cat has done a terrific job with them so far. Even if Subaru and Cat Haru don't know how to deal with them, the kids can be pretty savvy and crafty on her own. Human Haru is already good enough at making food to impress the adults around her. Granted, Subaru probably isn't a difficult one to impress. There's also a weird realism to the way that Subaru doesn't know how to cook, relies on a lot of take-out, and forgets to feed himself. It's not unlikely to develop these habits when you have anxiety and or may be neuro-atypical in other ways. I also didn't start learning how to cook until I was out of college and living on my own.
I don't know if my family has ever cooked "for" our cats, other than sometimes preparing the "extra" parts of the turkey (like the liver, kidneys, and neck) for them on Thanksgiving. But it's not actually unsafe to feed your cats (some) vegetables or non-meat ingredients, provided that they're thoroughly mixed with meat in some way. Felines are obligate carnivores, meaning they require nutrients that are only found in animal flesh to survive, and they don't digest some plant matter as well as us omnivores do. Most vegetables are more like junk food for cats, something to be had in moderation. There are some plants cats can't eat at all, including anything in the onion family (or leeks and garlic), grapes and raisins, and just like our canine pals: chocolate. And of course, anything mind-altering like caffeine or alcohol is a bad idea. But if you avoid those no-no's and mix good plants with meat like Subaru does, your kitties should be okay and they might appreciate the flavor depending on their tastes. Most commercial cat food includes plant material like rice, and humans eat food we can't digest all the time—like fiber—in order to help us work out the other stuff.
I suppose it's inevitable that a show as soothing as My Roommate is a Cat would naturally turn to that most relaxing of anime topics: food. It did in a way that maybe flattered cat owners a little, imagining that our cats worry about us when we're not taking care of ourselves. (Cats do notice when humans are sick or upset, but I'm not sure Haru would notice if Subaru wasn't eating enough without any major side effects. Then again, he does sleep a little too much…) Overall, it's clear that Haru is leading to a real improvement in Subaru's life, bringing him out of his shell and pushing him to do better by himself, whether she does so intentionally or not. This series can feel outright inspirational if you're a socially-awkward cat person yourself, and who knows? Maybe you'll even pick up a few tips! I definitely want to make something like Haru's chicken dish for my kitties sometime soon.
My Roommate is a Cat is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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