Subaru faces his most daunting challenge yet… a day of errands.
Overview (Spoilers Below)
Subaru is finally settling into a nice groove in his reading when his neighbor Yasaka and his editor Kawasei crash his morning solitude for an impromptu breakfast. After some introductions are made, Kawasei realizes that Haru doesn’t have a collar yet, and he hectors Subaru to go out to the pet store immediately and purchase one. Yasaka insists on tagging along but quickly bails once he sees that Subaru and the shop girl from two episodes ago have some serious chemistry.
The attendant helps Subaru pick out a collar for Haru, who is confirmed to be a female cat, and Subaru nearly makes it out of the store without being accosted. Instead, at the check-out line, he barely manages some small talk with an elderly woman behind him. Through their conversation, the shop attendant learns that Subaru doesn’t have nearly any cat gear at all and that Haru doesn’t have her shots yet. She makes sure Subaru has everything Haru needs and refers them to a vet.
Subaru takes Haru to the vet, and while it seems to scare Haru, she gets all of the shots she needs. The vet tells Subaru to watch out for overfeeding, as Haru is looking a little overweight, despite being a stray. Haru strikes up a conversation with a dog at the vet and learns a little bit about what it means to be in a family. The pair return home, but not before Subaru scores a date with the shop attendant to talk about cat dieting. Subaru tries to get the new collar on Haru, but the cat’s too slippery for him. He recalls the joy that his mother used to get when she would buy him something that looked good on him and feels that same desire for Haru.
He waits until Haru is eating and slips the collar on her. He’s worried she won’t like it, but Haru remembers a cat she thought was beautiful wearing a collar just like hers, so she thinks that means that she is beautiful too. Subaru encounters one last distraction, though, when the bell of Haru’s collar won’t allow him to concentrate on his reading. He takes the bell off, much to the feline’s chagrin, and she tackles him in order to try and regain her lost accessory.
I never fail to be charmed by this show. My Roommate is a Cat has managed to make me buy into emotional stakes for a show, rather than plot-related ones. To some degree, this is what all good stories do. It’s easy for us to imagine a movie world of faceless masses that we’ve never even seen on screen dying, but to imagine the misfortune of a single character we’ve grown to like? That’s much harder. My Roommate is A Cat has pulled off the difficult feat of making me care whether or not a cat likes her new collar, and there’s a lot to be said for that.
Despite this anime’s adroit grasp of the emotional, sometimes My Roommate is a Cat’s plot machinations leave something to be desired. I found that to be the case in this episode. The show’s goal is simple. Subaru wants to read his book, but other people keep getting in his way. It’s a simple enough premise, and it allows the show to display more of his world and his supporting cast of characters, but the show does revel in this at the expense of the story, and—as a result—the ending doesn’t land nearly as strong as it could. This is further emphasized by the problem being solved (or not, rather) while Haru is narrating, rather than Subaru.
Another of the show’s early weaknesses might be its overreliance on the death of Subaru’s parents. While it made an extremely effective catalyst for his actions in the last episode, its use again this week makes me worry about it as a well that the show may run dry. While it is, undeniably, an important part of the makeup of Subaru as a character and its various nuances have been (mostly) interestingly explored up until this point, I’m much more interested in Subaru and Haru moving forward together. Their spirits departed at the end of the last week; that should mean something.
This isn’t to say that the show shouldn’t stick with what it knows works. Haru’s narrations are just naïve enough to be cute while still pulling of believable. This doesn’t extend to the neighbor dog, who I think they made just a little too stupid, but that doesn’t mean the show shouldn’t keep trying. The other cat at the vet went off pretty well. The show also remains subtle when it wants to. In a flashback, we see Haru and Subaru together, and Subaru has grown long hair. The implication then is that Haru has been around long enough for Subaru to grow his hair out and then cut it again. This is a great detail that shows an audience around how long Haru has been in Subaru’s life and is a yardstick for the rate of change in both characters.
Each new member of Subaru’s supporting cast, so far, has been a welcome addition. The show’s focus on its main duo and Subaru’s shut-in personality have made Yasaka and Kawasei both breaths of fresh air. I’m looking forward to seeing more of the shop girl (likely next episode) and Subaru’s neighbor later on in the series. My Roommate is a Cat has tight control over nearly every asset they have at their disposal, and they only deploy them with the greatest of care. As a result, the show never feels overstuffed and maintains its spartan charm even as its roster expands.
My Roommate is a Cat is like a painting made of only a few similar colors. Sure it’s simple and may even feel a bit samey at first glance, but upon careful inspection, true beauty is found in the nuances.