My Roommate is a Cat
Episodes 1-2

by Rose Bridges,

How would you rate episode 1 of
My Roommate is a Cat ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
My Roommate is a Cat ?

My name is Rose, and I'm a bit of a crazy cat lady. I grew up in a house where my family had six cats, a number that has now grown to seven. One of the best ways to get me talking for a while is to ask to see pictures of them. I'm also a bookworm who can be withdrawn at times, especially when I'm in the throes of working on something. So you could say I have a lot to relate to in My Roommate is a Cat. This might be the most "made for me" anime since ClassicaLoid.

There are a lot of variations on "healing" anime, but I'm beginning to really like these soft domestic ones that involve two lonely people—or creatures, in this case—coming together to help each other. "Healing" often simply refers to the effect it's supposed to have on the viewer, watching characters do sweet things in a world with few larger problems. It's the animated equivalent of cuddling up with a warm cup of tea on a rainy day, or taking a bubble bath, or whatever soothing self-care activity works for you. But I find that I'm all the more "healed" when I can also watch it take place on-screen, so the formula of a misanthropic, lonely human and an abandoned, lonely cat is perfect for that.

Haru is obviously a far more sympathetic character than Subaru. (I'm not sure yet if Haru is supposed to be a male or female cat, but his voice sounds a bit more "boyish" to me so I'm going with male pronouns for now.) I've seen a lot of backlash to what a jerk Subaru can be, and it's not wholly undeserved. Even as an introverted book nerd, the way Subaru treats other people in his life is rude and selfish at best. It doesn't help that this supposedly stems from people spoiling a book he was reading, which despite what you might read on social media, is a minor problem to have.

Luckily, episode 2 suggests greater depth to his character. There are already hints at more trauma in his past, like his deceased parents, but his encounter at the pet store hints at something bigger than mere misanthropy. Subaru seems like he has significant social anxiety, getting really nervous at a sales clerk asking him basic questions. The exchange where he doesn't realize she's asking about his cat rather than him is funny; there's a lot of good humor so far in terms of Subaru not really getting how cats or "cat people" operate yet. His freakout that causes him to race out of the store is more concerning. I'm really interested to see how this goes. I'm one of many introverted, anxious people who likes cats more than dogs specifically because of that similar quality they share; cats are more independent and skittish, harder to please. Maybe the same will be true for Subaru, as he spends more time with Haru and learns how to be a cat owner.

I absolutely love the split-episode structure so far: half from Subaru's perspective and half from Haru's perspective. After a while this could get tiring, since the same events are rehashed twice, but so far it works. If anything, I wish the "Haru" segments were longer, with episode 2's coming in at a little after the 16-minute mark. (Although it also makes sense that since he doesn't leave the house, we'd spend less time with Haru overall.) He's just such a likable little cat, and it's fun to see what the creators imagine a "cat's" perspective would look like. I don't always agree; a cat dragging his bowl or kibble at you like he does in episode 1 usually means "feed ME!" rather than "feed yourself." It's still super cute and fun, and episode 2, with stuff like him sleeping on Subaru's laptop and in boxes, suggests the creators really do understand the cat mind. It also probably doesn't hurt that Haru looks like my cat Petey when he was a tiny kitten. (He's significantly less tiny now.)

Haru's backstory living on the streets connects to even the most mundane parts of his new life with Subaru. The kitten saw some bad things, but I'm glad to hear he knew love in the form of his human namesake. The reason Haru brightens up at the sound of his name is because he associates it with food, because it was the name of a little girl he once knew who would feed him. This leads to some humor later when he mistakes a TV commercial repeating "haru-haru!" as a sign of food, but it's heartwarming when we first find out.

There isn't that much to analyze about this show yet, though it shows promise in the shades of both Subaru and Haru's previous and current troubles. That's just fine when a show is as soft, cuddly, and "healing" as this one. Last year's winter delivered us a bevy of cozy shows like this, but My Roommate is a Cat is cute and sweet enough to sate me through a whole season.

Rating: A-

My Roommate is a Cat is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Rose is a Ph.D. student in musicology, who recently released a book about the music of Cowboy Bebop. You can also follow her on Twitter.

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