My Roommate is a Cat
by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 11 of
My Roommate is a Cat ?
While Subaru's memories have been in the background of My Roommate is a Cat for a while, this week they really come to the forefront. Various events this episode prompt him to make a trip that forces him to come to terms with his past, and the parents whose deaths still haunt him. It all builds to an emotional climax that marks this installment as one of the series' best—and sets up well for the finale next week. It also reveals one of the biggest steps Subaru has taken to get out of his shell and shows how much his little "roommate" Haru has helped him grow.
Early on, this episode starts playing with the motif of flowers, color, and Subaru's mother's garden. In an early scene, Subaru accidentally sprays Taro while watering it. Being a dog, Taro doesn't mind this, but his owner takes the moment to let Subaru know she's been secretly watering Saho's old garden, so Subaru's watering is unnecessary. The clueless guy realizes he should have figured this out, since the plants stayed healthy despite his own lack of attention. Yet the garden is one of the many things his parents did that Subaru remained oblivious about, like his mother's choice to focus on blue plants. She did that because of her son's love of the color blue, hoping he could enjoy the flowers from the window even though he never ventured outside. This focus on blue becomes important later, but for now, it's just another poignant reminder of all the things Subaru missed out on bonding over with his parents.
Luckily, now he can try to work on the new relationships in his life, while he expands his own horizons. A chance visit with Yugo during a meeting with Kawase might be what inspires Subaru in this direction. Kawase is there to discuss Subaru writing a new series because the signing for his book was such a huge success. Yugo rushes in because of the revelation that Subaru is his favorite author. He suddenly feels embarrassed because of the way he treated Subaru at first. Subaru insists that the fault is really his own, but Yugo can't help the way he felt; anyone would upon meeting their personal heroes. It's another reminder to both Subaru and the audience that anxiety is all in our heads, and rather than other people scrutinizing our actions with a fine-tooth comb, everyone is too caught up in how they act around others to care. Subaru's reaction to this compared to previous awkward moments reveals how far he's come.
Still, he's kind of stuck in a creative rut, so Kawase suggests that Subaru take a trip to clear his head, though he's surprised when the homebody author actually takes him up on that. As someone with similar anxieties to Subaru's, I was surprised he was so resistant to travel; I always found going different places refreshing in how it can free you from the stress and obligations of everyday life, letting you be whoever you want to be for a while. Unfortunately, Subaru's first trip is clearly connected to his past. When he sees an empty pot labeled with Tokushima, the last place his parents went—where they met their death on the bus—he feels driven to right some past wrongs and learn more about the last days of his parents' lives.
But before that, Subaru has to figure out what to do with Haru. Okami suggests that he find her a pet hotel, even though he's going to be away for such a short time. Subaru thinks about the way she wrecked things the last time he was away at night and agrees, but that requires getting her into the cat carrier, which turns out to be a real struggle. I've always had cats who hated going into the carrier, because like Okami points out, they associate it with visits to the vet. My cat George was a real terror about it, running away and hiding as soon as he saw the carrier come out, then scratching and biting in resistance if we tried to put him inside. Once at the vet, he would try to hide wherever he could in the room. Even if they don't associate the carrier with going places they don't like, cats are very territorial and don't like moving away from familiar places. So Subaru ends up nixing the pet hotel idea and just enlists a friend to come over and feed her. He naturally chooses Hiroto, who proves to be an expert at feeding the Haru the exact right amount per meal.
Subaru chooses the same hotel in Tokushima where his parents once stayed, and when he gets there, one of the employees remembers his name and his parents' stay. She says they made the reservation for three, showing they were so thoughtful that they left room for Subaru to join them until the very last minute. While looking at things to do nearby, Subaru reaches for a brochure about indigo dyes, which he knows are one of the local specialties. The employee wonders if he just likes the color blue, and eventually the owner goes out in the rain to fetch some indigo for him. The show implies that maybe his parents chose this vacation destination for this reason, hoping that Subaru's love of blue would prompt him to come—or maybe they could bring back something indigo for him. (Maybe that was what his mother was planning to plant in the garden?) Regardless, the color leaves Subaru breaking down in tears.
We don't get much Haru perspective this week, and as the end of the episode focused more on Subaru's past, I worried we wouldn't get any at all. This episode almost doesn't need it, since it benefits from a strong focus on Subaru's memories. Yet it still gives us a few moments of Haru wondering where her owner could be as night falls and he doesn't return. She figures he'll be home soon and curls up in the coat he left behind. It's really cute, as she seems to pick the article because it smells like him. Cats can be very sensitive to objects that smell like the people they love, which is a reason cats tend to like rolling around in laundry. (Plus, laundry baskets are shaped kind of like boxes, which we all know felines adore.) It doesn't detract from the main story, and it's a cute scene in a moment when we might be wondering how Haru is feeling about Subaru's trip.
Subaru rushes to the airport in the rain only to find that his flight is delayed. While the weather might hold him back, I hope that his extended stay encourages him to learn more about the area and his parents, so he can come to terms with that traumatic part of his past. You can never truly "get over" the death of someone close to you, and Subaru's always likely to feel regretful about the trips with his parents that he missed. But maybe this trip can be the beginning of him forging the kind of life that they would have wanted for him. This week's installment is definitely a high point for the show. My Roommate is a Cat was always cute and heartwarming, but it managed to wring some bigger feelings from me this time. There's a surprisingly heartfelt and complex core to this series that goes beyond the warm fuzzies of cute cat antics to create something more meaningful.
My Roommate is a Cat is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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