My Roommate is a Cat explores its reclusive protagonist's struggle with grief and social anxiety in a refreshingly cuddly way. This week, Micchy and Andy break down why all fans of felines should be watching this adorable dramedy.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
You can read our weekly coverage of My Roommate is a Cat here!
Well Andy, as we're nearing the end of the winter anime season, it's time to start rounding up our faves. I'd like to kick off by nominating my best girl. She's beauty, she's grace, she will scratch you in the face.
That's a strong candidate. I'll cast my vote for her too. Which makes Haru the unanimous victor!
Catgirls are all well and good, but returning to the internet's favorite non-Newtonian liquid is so nice. My Roommate is a Cat is the latest anime where half the gimmick is that there's a cat, so every single cat-lover will watch it because there's a damn cute kitty-cat.
Have you seen this cat, folks? She's so precious!
The other half of the show is about Haru's owner struggling with grief, social anxiety, and generally being a disaster of a human being. But luckily he has this ball of floof to help him along the way.
I think the animators challenged themselves to give this cat as many smug-ass stinkfaces as possible and bless them for that.
I'm a simple person. I see cat. I click. This made me an easy mark, and I was fully expecting something like Chii's Sweet Home but maybe a little less childish. Then this was the first shot of the show.
So okay, I'm not off the train yet but I'm a little blindsided. I can deal with the idea of getting a pet to help cope with the loss of loved ones. It's kinda schmaltzy, but sure, now get to the cat already. Like, you gave me a super happy OP with a kitten in a pumpkin, so I'm sure it'll be like one episode of sad and then nothing but happy cat times, right?
We regret to inform you that the cats are also weary and battle-hardened.
Oh no, I have been gimmick goofed! Turns out the actual hook isn't just that there's a cat, but a neat structure that allows what should be 12-minute episodes to work in 20, while also getting around the fluffy yet forgettable familiarity of its peers. The first 2/3 of most episodes feature our anxiety-riddled good boy protagonist, and then the last 1/3 portrays the same events from the perspective of this plucky disaster ball. And it works almost too well!
In any case, the cat segments aren't
always an uplifting mirror to our relatable depressed millennial adventures.
Not even the cute kitty cats can escape the world's cruelty. :(
But yeah, Subaru's introduced as this anti-social grouchy guy, but as the show progresses, it becomes clear that most of his seclusion stems from powerful social anxiety. He's the kind of person who makes one minor social blunder and then blows it up
to ridiculous proportions.
Like I said, relatable.
He is such
Most of his reactions might come off as anime exaggerations to anyone who hasn't felt that level of anxiety, so I'm glad to let you know that being that dumb and terrified in public is absolutely real. Getting Haru isn't a magic solution to this for him, either. Taking care of a dumb stand-offish cat helps him deal with his issues because there's room for self-reflection in how annoying it is when Haru unintentionally does something stupid. It's a slow and gradual process of betterment for him that's made easier by having someone else care.
Good to have someone around to feed you (cat food) when you forget to eat.
Haru is definitely a positive addition to his life. Simply by being an annoying little shit who doesn't know how human rules work, she gets him to revisit his parents' room so he can start to come to terms with their passing. She's this little bundle of chaos that forces him to take the first steps to processing that grief and recognizing the support network he has around him.
Well human rules aren't usually predicated on the existence of ghosts, which is apparently the real reason cats sometimes flip out and attack nothing! Everyone who owns a cat lives in a goddamn haunted house.
That's the inevitable weakness of a human trying to write a cat's perspective, I guess. Cat psychology isn't a total mystery to us, but every so often they'll do stuff we don't have much explanation for, so this is My Roommate is a Cat's solution to that nugget of cat weirdness.
I'm not sure cats have a conception of siblings once they get older, but that doesn't stop these two furballs from having a distinct little brother/older sister dynamic.
Which is totally fine. Most of the gaps contain at least one solid Haru image to make up for any leaps of logic.
Yeah, cats also cannot make human expressions, but Haru stinkfaces are too glorious to deny.
I'm also on board for tough adoptive stray cat mom Miz Tora
trying her best to pretend to be above caring while teaching Haru's abandoned litter how to survive.
I half-expect her to don a long coat and start carrying a spiked bat, that's how punk this cat is.
Man, now I gotta resist the urge to re-cast my vote for best girl.
Never mind, I found this image to bring me back to Haru. And the year 2002.
When we get down to it, Haru is still very much a cat with a cat brain and cat logic. So about 90% of her thoughts are food-related.
Including her own name! Turns out if you only use an animal's name when feeding it, they'll probably just think it means food.
It still cracks me up that Subaru thought a cat could pick its own name. All that happened was that she picked up on the string of sounds she associated with food and went ballistic over it.
Hold on, let me go through this book of baby names alphabetically and whenever my pet decides I've ignored it too long, the one I'm saying at that point will be its name.
You're gonna end up with three cats named Aaron. But that's basically what Subaru did, and I feel so much secondhand embarrassment for this poor boy. One neat thing the show does is parallel Subaru's losses with Haru's. She might just be a cat, but she's lost siblings to starvation and other animals, so she shares that tragedy with Subaru. Even though she doesn't understand what Subaru's going through, she knows that it'll be sad if he disappears and doesn't come back. Meanwhile, the pupper next door, who's probably never been a stray, is just like "man there used to be an old lady who lived here but now she's not here anymore, huh wonder what happened"!
Of course, the fear of that loss means freaking out and destroying everything in the house, before deciding it was just due to hunger because dogs can't be right and she's too tough to be lonely.
The animal reactions are basic, but they support some of the most human moments in the show. It hurts every time Subaru catches himself thinking of a time he was annoyed by his parents, only to break down because he took those moments for granted.
Subaru and his parents were terrible at communicating, and he deliberately ignored all the efforts his parents made to include him in their plans. Only after they're gone does he realize what an ungrateful jerk he was for all those years. In a way, he sees himself in Haru's inability to comprehend that he's trying to take care of her. Like when he kicks her out of the kitchen while he's cooking, and Haru just insists on coming right back in.
gdi you stupid cat why don't you understand
Look, sometimes you're a little shit and don't know it. At least cats are only acting on their nature, whereas human kids will actively learn how to be this dumb.
Neighbor boy might be stupid, but at least he feeds Subaru, go easy on him.
He also forces social interaction on Subaru, which he desperately needs, and it gives us a rare Micchy cameo!
As much as Subaru loathes having Hiroto over, at least he takes over when they're at the store and Subaru can't bring himself to speak to employees. Every socially awkward dweeb needs at least one extrovert friend to handle the hard stuff like talking to strangers and saying no. And Subaru's starting to enjoy having visitors, which is a far cry from his "ugh I can't believe I have to go within ten meters of another human" attitude at the beginning.
By now, he's even built up enough faith in himself to go on a trip and talk to strangers! I'm so proud of him! His biggest breakthrough so far was his signing event, where he reached out to a kid who mirrored his own younger self.
He may treat it like being years behind, but I think Subaru will learn to be less regretful and more proud that he's accomplished things at his own pace soon. And shout-out to the editor for getting such a sweet book cover.
Kawase's aggressive affection for Haru is an annoying character trait, but I suppose he's good enough at his job. Besides, I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't also make endless excuses to visit someone for their cat.
Okay, but would you make your own cell phone strap of their cat?
No, but I have made an instagram account for somebody else's cat, so maybe I'm worse.
Considering the amount of Haru screenshots I took while watching this, I'm not sure I can judge. Like, come on. Look how they drew those little kitty feets.
Like I said, Haru might be the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.
She can be your angel
or yuor devil
and sometimes she lick the butthole
So yeah, My Roommate is a Cat is a sweet show about coping with personal losses, building social connections, and making dumb faces, all of which apply to both Subaru and Haru in some way or another. It's a pleasant experience, and best of all, cat.
Anything that can accurately depict the dopey charm of a cat getting lost in a pile of clothes has my approval.
It's heartbreaking. It's heartwarming. It has a trash gremlin. What more could you ask for?
I guess you should avoid it if you hate cats, to which I say how could you
Okay, the longer I pore through this screencap folder, the greater urge I feel to go to my local adoption center right now.