My Roommate is a Cat (同居人はひざ、時々、頭のうえ。) is a shōjo, slice-of-life, comedy anime adaptation of the manga written by Minatsuki with art from As Futatsuya. Zero-G picked up the series for the Winter 2019 line-up and it is directed by Kaoru Suzuki. I saw the anime circulating around a few blogs, and after getting an idea of the premise, the neko baka (cat lover) within me couldn’t resist it at all.
My Roommate is a Cat is about a severely anti-social, introverted author named Subaru Mikazuki. One day while paying his respects to his parents’ grave, he encounters a hungry cat and feels instantly inspired to write a novel about a kitty. Riding the high of his stimulation, he brings the feline back home with him.
My initial reaction to the pilot episode, and I’m referring to the handful of minutes from the beginning, was that I had found a kindred soul in Subaru with respect to his passion for books and loathing for social situations and people. I wanted to take screen-caps nearly every fifteen to twenty seconds because the quotes were so bloody relatable. It made me feel like the rest of the episode was going to be just as brilliant. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, but it wasn’t terrible either.
Subaru is an awkward fella, to say the least. He’s quite particular with his creative processes and doesn’t like interruptions to them of any sort, which is actually another quality that I related to quite heavily. When I’m in the zone with my writing, I never bother to take break to eat or rest because I’m so focused on the task at hand. Luckily, I have a Sir Betrothed who yells at me when I can’t yell at myself. This concern for my well-being is an act of compassion and kindness and one we see a cat taking part in with regards to the show and I loved that bit so much.
Cats really don’t get enough credit for being loving and kind-hearted creatures. Kheb, the love of my life and the heart of my soul, is a cat who will stay glued to me if I’m sick or undergoing intense bouts of depression. He just knows that his human is having a tough time. If I’m not eating, he won’t eat either. When I’m working and if I have a long night ahead of me, he will lay by my feet and keep me company and then meow at me when it’s time for me to get rest. People can argue that these are things the cat does because it’s what he needs, but I say bullshit. When you have a bond that you share like that, it’s never so simple.
Seeing this sort of bond starting to take place between a dude who knows dick about caring for himself, let alone another individual, and a cat who’s mystified by the eccentric human who brought him home is pleasant in its own way. This is going to be the biggest strength of the series, and probably the main reason to keep an eye on it this season.
Unfortunately, those dynamics are lessened in quality by the awkward and forced bouts of humour that arise. The series does have some serious undertones. We learn that Subaru’s parents died when he was young, and Neko-chan experiences something similar in their life, and these tragedies sort of craft the backbone of their individual maladroitness with how they interact with other people as well as one another. So, when you toss in poorly timed humour or things that are trying way too fucking hard to get a laugh when there is no legitimate reason for it, it can be mildly frustrating. If the series nixed the comedy and stuck to a more realistic, evocative tone, then I honestly believe it would be the stellar steal for the Winter season.
Another thing that I believe can work well for the narrative part of the serial is the kitty’s perspective. The first three-fourths of the episode was a standard, protagonist point-of-view, while the remaining few minutes shifted gears to show us what the feline was feeling and thinking as they behaved in specific ways. The cat’s POV was definitely funnier than Subaru’s, but that could be my cat-obsessed bias talking, I’ll confess. Nevertheless, I like the duality this creates and the personal connection, as an audience member, with knowing things the main character doesn’t. It sort of helps to build a light level of anticipation for how you’d want things to play out between them as their relationship develops, hopefully for the better.
Aside from a curious storyline, you won’t get much else here. The animation is basic as basic gets, the music is also rather subpar, and the characters outside of Subaru and his cat are generic and forgettable (or irritating in the case of Subaru’s editor, at least thus far; he may grow on me).
Overall, I will keep watching My Roommate is a Cat because, as I’ve mentioned, I feel like there are some deeper themes here, particularly where formulating friendships is concerned, and that’s something I truly enjoy watching and/or reading.