I’m a dog person and even I found this series irresistible!
Subaru is a very talented, but reclusive author. He much prefers being by himself, with his books and writing, than actually dealing with anyone else. After losing his parents in an accident, Subaru is truly alone in the world… that is, until one afternoon when he visits his parents grave and meets a stray cat. Deciding to take it home, Subaru and his new roommate, Haru, form an unlikely bond and become more than just roommates, they become family.
Good and the Bad
I’m a dog person. I’ve always been a dog person and the only reason why I have cats now is that my wife absolutely adores them. So you can understand why, at first, I was hesitant to get into this series. That all changed once I sat down and watched only a couple of episodes of this series.
Adapting the original manga series, Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue., for the small screen, this series seamlessly weaves from one perspective to another. Most of each episode is told from Subaru’s perspective. The trials, the tribulations, the learning experiences; everything that you’d expect from a first-time cat owner. In some episodes, he learns all about what happens when you leave a cat alone for too long. In one episode he learns how not to overfeed a cat, and give it some exercise at the same time. All valuable lessons to be sure. The last part of each episode, though, switches perspective to Haru and shows her growing and learning to deal with a human who requires her to take care of him just as much as he takes care of her. It’s this switch in perspective that shows us just how deep the bond between human and kitty becomes in a very short amount of time.
If that didn’t sound like enough of a gut punch, however, we also get a few episodes scattered throughout the run of the series dedicated to Haru’s life as a stray trying to protect her brothers and sisters (and often times not succeeding). These are just a few of the little touches that the staff behind My Roommate is a Cat throw in to keep the feels coming at the viewer over and over again.
Part of the reason why I think this series worked so well for me (and other people in the world who as creative professionals) is that Subaru is so relatable. While not everyone in the world is as much of a recluse as he is, I think a lot of creative professionals can relate to his struggle to maintain his quiet, peaceful life, and failing miserably when he realizes that having a cat as a roommate is a lot of work.
The main thing that I particularly enjoyed about Subaru and his relationship with Haru, though, is that over the course of twelve episodes, we see him actively grow as an individual. At the beginning of the series, Subaru actively avoids leaving the house even to meet with his editor in a cafe. By the end of the series, however, Subaru is not only leaving the house willingly but he goes on a short vacation to a place that his parents were going to visit before they had their untimely accident.
Haru grows by leaps and bounds over the course of the series as well. While at first, Haru is wary of her new home and is insistent that she’s going to leave as soon as the new human in her life is stable, she comes to realize that this is a person who needs her to take care of him as well. The first time I saw Haru bring Subaru some of her kitty food, so that he would eat, my cold, icy heart melted and grew three sizes.
This cast wouldn’t work if it were just Subaru and Haru playing off each other though. What makes this series truly gel and come together is the supporting cast that helps Subaru along the way, such as Okami who works in the local pet supply store and his editor, Kawase. These side characters do a fantastic job of keeping the story moving forward, and helping Subaru overcome his crippling social anxiety by pushing him into new situations.
Finally, we come to the artwork for this series. Produced by studio Zero-G, I absolutely adored the character designs. In particular, though, I loved the design of Haru. While most anime cats are drawn as cute as possible, Haru is designed to be rough around the edges (which is appropriate considering the hard life she’s led). Sure, she’s cute, but she’s also got one of the most perfectly drawn resting bitch faces in anime history. It’s obvious that the original manga creator has dealt with stray cats before and the staff behind the anime must have had a blast studying the various movements of cats in order to animate Haru so perfectly.
My Roommate is a Cat caught me totally off guard, but I’m glad. While it sounds like such a simple concept for an anime, this is a series that I strongly believe more people need to watch regardless of if they consider themselves “cat people” or not. Sweet, yet capable of turning on the waterworks at a moment’s notice, this series will go down as one of the best sitcoms of the year and deserves a spot in any creative professional’s home video library.
It is available now via Crunchyroll (subbed) and Funimation (dubbed).