[Review] She & Her Cat

Earth turned quietly on its axis, and in the midst of this big world, she and I quietly lost body heat together. Just as our heat and our breath flow across this planet, she and I flowed across the planet and ended up here so we could meet again.

I finally had the delightful opportunity to watch this short, 4-part piece following a young woman and her cat. I noticed it brought up repeatedly across Twitter and various blogs, made continuous notes to myself to watch it, then just as quickly forgot about it. Happily, the time came where I sat myself down to step into Daru’s world; the natures of the story and characters, and the short length of the anime begs the viewer to watch it all in one sitting. The age of the main human character also makes her easily relatable for viewers just entering young adulthood and well into the middle ages.

Episode 1: She and Her Apartment

I am searching for her, because she is searching for me.

It’s honestly been about eight years since I graduated from my undergraduate studies and I can still remember the excitement and fear looking out into the unknown. I waylaid it for a few years with graduate school, but even then, I knew the coddling of my youth was over. I moved off campus, the bills started coming, I adopted a dog, and then I realized that I needed to start over somewhere completely new.

Watching this show’s young woman through the eyes of her cat brought all the emotions rushing back. I gazed at my own dog and wondered what her voice would sound like and how she might view me. I’ve had roommates, boyfriends, and lived alone. While there’s certainly a sense of freedom living on your own, there’s also an undeniable sense of safety and comfort in the company of others. When our protagonist is left alone after a year and change with her best friend and roommate, loneliness and a much heavier financial responsibility threaten to weigh her down. There isn’t much Daru can do other than to welcome her home with warmth and affection. A part of me wants to remind her that there’s no shame with returning home, particularly while still studying or job hunting, but another part of me remembers the overwhelming desire to distance myself from family and live in my own space with my own rules.

Episode 2: She and Her Sky

I live in my own time, and she lives in her own time. So these moments when my time and hers intersect are more precious to me than anything.

I frequently talk to my dog, and assume her eyes and expressions reflect my own thoughts and feelings. But the truth is that I will never know what she thinks and the words I speak only make sense to her in limited repetition with training and treats. There are, however, needs and desires that are universal across life–food, water, warmth, and company. We look at the same sky and feel the same wind; our stomachs grumble when hungry and our hearts rejoice in finding a kindred spirit.

The flashback to Miyu and Daru’s first meeting shows us a duo still at odds with one another. Their desires may align, but their languages do not. With an absent father and a single mother, Miyu clearly sits in a strange and frightening new place. There was a time where I, too, lived alone with my mother. That time together was precious as we recovered from the trauma of the past. Like Miyu’s mother, my own continued to look towards the future, and like Miyu, I dug my heels in against any change, good or bad. Daru’s entrance to Miyu’s still unstable world sparks fear, jealousy, and anger in the little girl. When she brings him outside to the riverbank, Daru mistakes her intent as a desire to spend the beauty of the outdoors together. Thankfully, she quickly realizes abandonment is not the answer, and her coming to terms with those emotions opens the door to healing and new friendships.

Episode 3: She and Her Gaze

Her sadness and pain gripped my heart. I know that she tries harder than anyone. I want to help her, but I can’t even reach her anymore.

This episode rang clearly and deep into my own experiences with my mother; seeing their memories seemed almost like flashbacks into past conversations I had, both the happy ones, and the angry ones. When I was in that awkward time shortly after my teenage years, the wish to distance myself as far and as quickly as possible from my parents was strong. Yet the older I get, the more readily do I reach out to my mom for her feedback on the smallest of decisions. Disagreements are either resolved through discussion or understood as present but not worth fighting over. This year I turn 30, and I see my mom more clearly than ever in the actions I take.

As much as I want to shake Miyu for turning away from her mom and causing her worry, and for denying a friend in what should be one of the happiest days of her life, I also can’t help but sympathize in her struggle. She thinks being an adult means forward movement and strength, which is far from reality. Grown ups, too, drown in indecision and loneliness. Even though I know she’ll get past this moment, the present feelings don’t become any easier to bear or overcome.

Episode 4: She and Her Story

I’ve always had a strong admiration for…the sound of the world’s heart sending power to its every last corner. In the room where she and I lived, though my time and hers no longer exist together, the world still moves, and we still travel upon it.

I really think they couldn’t have ended this mini-series in a better place than they did. Daru bringing Miyu and her mother back together as his last gift probably saved them both. Sure, Miyu would have likely rolled out of bed eventually and jumped back into the fray, and her mom probably would have forced herself into her home as many a worried mother does, but there are no assurances in life. All the scary possibilities of what could have happened spring to mind. Like her mom, I felt my heart clench in fear when Miyu didn’t immediately answer the door. The overwhelming wave of relief once she did eclipsed any other feelings of discord or separation. Miyu and her mother’s heart to heart with one another, and resulting laughter and rekindling of their bond, was exactly what Daru needed to rest easy and prepare for his next journey.

I very much encourage viewers between the ages of fourteen and forty to try this mini-series. The themes transcend sex and age and are thoughts so many of us touch upon as we grow up, and even beyond those tumultuous years. And if you watch the last episode through the ending credits, you’ll be treated to an ending scene introducing you to the cat that started the whole story.

Rating: 2 dango

*Rating system:

  • 0 dango – average and forgettable.
  • 1 dango – very good in its category.
  • 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
  • 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.

4 thoughts on “[Review] She & Her Cat

  1. Yes … for me this has been one of the best shorts animes to come out in a while. Am very glad you reviewed it! ^^

    One of the things I liked about this series is that it really “got” the cat, both in the writing and the art. Perhaps my favorite oart of the series, though, was the ed sequence, which I felt was lilting and heartfelt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have yet to actually see the OVA–have you seen it? I didn’t actually know that this was a Makoto Shinkai work until the credits rolled at the start. It makes sense why I immediately fell in love with the pacing and script. His voice as Daru perfectly matched the writing, and I kept wanting to reach out with my hands and cup the fluffy fur around his neck.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed the show, although I’d maybe have preferred something a little more upbeat. It did make me think of my wife and our cat that passed away at 20 years old 2 years ago, as they were very close, although our cat was a real jerk.🙂

    Thanks for writing about the show.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s my pleasure🙂 I try to always say something about shows I watch outside of their original airing time, and this one definitely deserved some coverage. I do like subdued and melancholic works from time to time. Your cat certainly made it to a respectable age! There are so many upbeat cat show options out there, that this one felt like a needed voice.

      Like

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