Saturday, May 16, 2020

REVIEW: My Roommate is a Cat: The Complete Series (anime TV series)

My Roommate is a Cat is a "slice of life" series. It's licensed by Funimation.


Content warning for this series: Parent death, kitten death.

Subaru is an introverted 23-year-old novelist dealing with grief and social anxiety after his parents' death in an accident. While visiting his parents' grave, he encounters a stray cat, finds inspiration for his next novel, and decides to take the cat home with him. The cat, Haru, becomes the first living being he has purposely invited into his life since his parents' death. As he learns to take care of her, he begins taking tiny steps outside his comfort zone and slowly broadens his social circle. Meanwhile, Haru adjusts to her new life and figures out how to take care of this odd and quiet human being.

Episodes are generally structured so that viewers see Subaru's POV and then many of the same events from Haru's POV. However, there are also a few flashbacks, and I highly recommend keeping tissues on hand for those.

I was expecting this to be a sort of "single guy" Chi's Sweet Home, and although parts of it were, its themes of grief, anxiety, and found family packed an emotional punch I wasn't expecting. Subaru's parents had died about three years prior to the series' beginning, and there were aspects of his grief that he hadn't fully processed yet. Up until the time Haru came into his life, he'd mostly been trying to put one foot in front of the other and keep supporting himself on his own with his writing. Having Haru around meant thinking about other living beings again, going out into the world, and working through his regrets over his parents' death.

Haru, too, had stuff she was working through. Her life prior to ending up with Subaru had been hard. She and her siblings had been abandoned without their mother, and since she was the largest of the litter, she'd tried to take care of everyone as best she could. She wasn't always successful, and as a result, one of her siblings had died and she'd been separated from the others. Subaru was a source of food, sure, but he also became a new family member, someone who wasn't always very good at taking care of himself and needed to be reminded to eat.

At the start of the series, Subaru only grudgingly allowed two people in his life, his new editor and a childhood friend of his who'd come by and bring him food, both of whom he was cold towards. As he softened towards Haru, he also began to soften towards the humans in his life, and allow others in.

I appreciated that the show seemed to recognize that introversion and social anxiety were two separate things. Prior to his parents' death, Subaru was an introvert who preferred staying inside and reading to going out and being social. It didn't look like his social anxiety really became an issue until after his parents' death (I could be wrong about that, but he just seemed to be a bit shy in some of the flashbacks, rather than panicky). It was bad enough that he had trouble talking to store employees - in one episode, Haru's need for more food was the only reason he could bring himself to go to a pet store, and he was stiff and anxious the entire time (as someone with serious driving anxiety, I could totally relate to this).

All in all, this was a better show than I expected, and although I could recognize a lot of moments and characters that could have been fleshed out more (I had expected/hoped that Okami's cats would another appearance, as well as Hiroto's sister, Nagisa), this still managed to feel like it ended at a good point.

I watched it in Japanese with English subtitles - I can't comment on the English dub, although I hope to rewatch the show at some point with the dub turned on.


Fairly skimpy extras: textless opening and closing animations (I loved the opening and closing songs, by the way, and never skipped past them); episode 12 commentary by the English voice actors for Haru (Jad Saxton), Subaru (Austin Tindle), Hiroto (Kyle Igneczi), and Kawase (Josh Grelle), which was almost entirely focused on stories about the voice actors' pets; and six large cat stickers, three of which feature Haru, two of which are cat magazine covers from the series, and one of which is the cover of Subaru's book. I enjoyed the commentary, even though it barely touched on the series, and I like the stickers, even though I'm never going to be able to bring myself to use them.

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