Everyone has a breaking point. For some, it is the monotony of daily life. For others, it is the loss of someone close. That loss can set someone in such a downward spiral they never recover. How we learn to cope with loss and grief sets the tone for recovery. My Roommate Is A Cat is a deceptively cute story about how humans suffer painful loss, and how we can recover once again. I have never watched anything which tackled a heavy topic in such a colorful way. This is, without a doubt, a weird show but one worth the time investment.
If you are a cat lover, this anime is for you. Even if you are not, you will find something to enjoy in this story. The uniqueness of the show comes from its dual perspective. The first half is typically from the writer Subaru’s side while the final half is from the cat Haru’s. My Roommate Is A Cat does a great job at making the character’s personalities shine. Their mentalities play a huge role in their perception of events and because of this, we feel it too. In a story dedicated to overcoming tragedy, the dual perspectives give a unique look into how the characters are coping.
My Roommate Is A Cat has its flaws in animation, but it makes up for it in story depth. I felt for Subaru and Haru, and I wanted them to succeed. The emotional attachment the viewer has towards the characters hits hard. What makes this anime great is not the fantastical aspects, but the real challenges these characters face.
My Roommate Is A Cat Is…
An adaptation of a currently running manga of the same name, written by Minatuki Tunami and art by Futatsuya As. The anime adaptation was handled by the studio Zero-G. It is clear that this story comes from a personal place, at least when it comes to owning a cat. The information on proper feeding habits is clearly from a cat owner’s experience.
One thing you may be wondering is: why is the title My Roommate Is A Cat? To be honest, I do not like the title much, but the literal translation is worse: My Roommate Is Sometimes On My Knees, Sometimes On My Head. It is a weird name and a weird translation, but the story is enough for me to look past it.
The Story Of My Roommate Is A Cat
This anime seems at first glance to be just a cutesy visual story of a lone man learning to live with a cat. However, any illusions to a simple and cute story is quickly dashed in the opening scene. Subaru, a young but established mystery writer, is attending his parent’s funeral. He does not cope well; already a reclusive person, he withdraws even further from people. He is breaking under feelings of guilt and anguish. After finding a stray cat (who unintentionally inspires his next book) at his parent’s grave, Subaru adopts her. What follows is a heartwarming story of how the cat helps this deeply wounded man cope with his grief.
Artistic mediums do not shy away from grief, sometimes it is the best way to learn to recover. What the core of My Roommate Is A Cat’s story deals with is the regret of taking people for granted. We often forget what we have until it’s gone (quote me any song). What this story does right is show how this impacts those around Subaru. When Subaru feels down or lashes out at those close to him, they feel it. Watching those near Subaru try to help him despite his pushing away is, sometimes, too real.
Subaru & Haru
The cast of My Roommate Is A Cat is small but well-maintained. I really grew to care about these characters, even those on the periphery. However, this story is about two people in particular (well, one person and a cat):
Subaru: The Pained Author
Subaru is an accomplished mystery writer working on his next book. He has a wide fanbase and is represented by an agency. What would be the dream for others becomes a method of escape for Subaru. Due to his parent’s death, he has isolated himself further from society; a consequence of his inability to cope. His depression even makes him hide from his own feelings. The amount of grief and regret he carries with him is at the core of the story’s direction.
Subaru is the core reason why I watched the show. Take out the cute design and cute cat, there is a deep story about overcoming grief here. Subaru learns from Haru how to cope with his grief, and this is what makes the story so strong. For anyone who has overcome deep depression or dealt with heavy loss, Subaru’s story will speak to you.
Haru: The Warmhearted Stray
Haru represents survival. Where Subaru had a home, Haru had none. She had to fend off hunger and predators all while taking care of her siblings. Haru’s story is a unique take on the life of a stray cat, who is more vulnerable than we think. Her story is about these struggles, but also about learning to live with a human. As someone who owned a stray cat before, I can attest it is difficult on the stray.
Haru is the poster cat for pet therapy. The story wants you to know that having a companion to see you through the tough times is okay. Sometimes it is the only way to recover. While the story humanizes her for its purposes, Haru’s mentality is what one would expect from a cat. She is territorial, always hungry, and ready to protect those she cares about. She also likes sleeping on laptops.
My Roommate Is A Cat’s Production
The production of My Roommate Is A Cat is okay. I am not blown away by anything specifically, but that is not the point. This anime focuses much more on subtle character changes rather than overt visual spectacle. Everything is designed around this purpose.
Do not let me lead you astray though; this anime is cute. The character designs are impressive, with great coloring which lingers in your mind. You know who is a warm character based on their design, and their personalities fit this well. Oukami’s design is a perfect example of this:
The backgrounds are detailed well, and honestly, the more I think about it, the more I like the design choices. The heaviness of the core topic balances with the fluffy design and bright colors. That said, if you are a fan of sakuga or high-quality animation, this is probably not for you. There are no standout moments animation-wise. However, the choices made are well executed; you will not be disappointed by what is on display.
The music is well-crafted for the tone of the series, but like the visuals, there are no standout tracks for me. I actually had to go back to remember what the music sounded like. But I think that adds to the atmosphere because there are excellent quiet moments here. The music blends well with the background noise, which is probably a design choice. That said, f you are looking for standout tracks, this is not it, but do not let that dissuade you from the show. The music plays its role well.
The sum of its parts is greater than the individual pieces. Do not let some shortcomings scare you away; there is quality here in spades. One thing My Roommate Is A Cat does exceptionally well? It’s lesson.
The Lesson of My Roommate Is A Cat
We often take for granted those close to us. However, once that person is gone, the permanence patiently builds up. It becomes a heavy burden, too heavy at times. Grief and regret pile up until they eclipse any positive light. My Roommate Is A Cat explores these issues, and I promise that you will be missing something important if you only look at the cute designs. Yes, it is a cute anime but it earns itself an earnest conversation of moving forward. Past the grief, past the isolation.
How we overcome grief is what defines us in these moments.