A rose by any other name… would still be after all the food it can get its paws on.
Overview (Spoilers Below)
Subaru is trying to get some work done, but the cat is lying on his laptop, keeping him from typing. He tries to move the cat off, but to no avail. Subaru thinks that he might be able to bribe the cat with food and thus have it leave his work-space, but he is all out of cat food. He ventures into town, despite his aversion to people, and after some trouble, eventually finds a pet store.
In the store, Subaru and a comely salesgirl get into a cute misunderstanding about just who this cat food is for. She tells him that he needs to name his cat, and Subaru rushes out of the store. He gets a call from his editor asking for the same thing, but for the cat from his latest story. Subaru becomes distraught thinking about how, without his parents, no one lovingly calls out his name anymore.
He returns home and resolves to think of a name for his cat. After much trial and error, he comes across a book his mother used to read to him as a child about the sun and the moon. He reads a little of the book aloud and sees that the cat responds to Haru. With that, the cat’s name is decided.
We then switch to Haru’s perspective. They initially wanted to nap on Haru’s laptop, but quickly become obsessed with food. They lament their immediate over-reliance on Subaru and resolve to be smarter in the future. Haru runs into Subaru’s neighbor, and fears for their life, running back to safety. They remember a time when a little girl gave her food. The little girl’s name was Haru as well, but the cat misunderstood and now thinks that Haru means food is coming.
Subaru returns home again and tries to come up with a name for Haru. The cat is tired of all of his mumbling until he says Haru as a possible name. The cat thinks that this means food is near, and luckily, Subaru has a free sample of cat food from the salesgirl at the pet store. Haru devours it immediately but is still hungry. Subaru tells Haru that he is going out to get more, but when Haru hears their name, they think that he already has the food, and yells after Subaru for confusing them.
A common aphorism about television shows is that pilots are often bad. In their attempts to get every element of the show’s DNA on screen in a single episode, things are under-covered, and the identity the series may grow to have may not be represented at all in its first outing. Thus, viewers are encouraged to look at the second and third episodes of a television show to give them a clearer picture of what the series will be over the course of at least its season arc.
My Roommate is A Cat, however, has a spectacular pilot. The show seems incredibly clear about what it has going for it and what it wants to do. The second episode, however, is not nearly as strong as its predecessor. There’s still plenty of show left to go, but hopefully, this episode is the exception, rather than the constitutive nature of My Roommate is A Cat.
“I Call to You” mainly suffers from a lack of tension. The thing we are curious about in this episode is what the cat’s name is going to be, but it’s solved by the eleven-minute mark. Contrast this with the pilot, where the tension came from whether or not Subaru was going to choose to live with Haru, and vice versa. This wasn’t solved until the final moments of the episode. There was, of course, a secondary, food-related conflict, but that was for stake-raising and was not the central conflict.
This episode also has some more food-related shenanigans, but they are nowhere near as urgent as the previous week’s, and make me worry about the show’s reliance on that particular well of conflict. None of this is particularly damning for the series, but the gestalt of these issues does make me worry a little for a show that was so strong right out of the gate.
This episode does take us into a deeper character study of Subaru. It seems that his grief has given him more than a touch of agoraphobia. It’s not that he’s just misanthropic, but he seems afraid to leave his house. This is interesting new information and brings a more sympathetic side to a character that—at times—can be a bit trying in his aversion to people of any kind. His adventures through this season (and Haru) are going to teach him to come out of his shell, so it does help to get a clearer understanding of exactly why he’s in there in the first place.
Another nice touch was Haru’s name. It’s Japanese for springtime, a period of rebirth. Subaru says himself that names are not frivolous. They represent the nature of what the named truly is. So, Haru is a new beginning for Subaru, just as Subaru is a new beginning for Haru. Subaru also reveals that his own surname means “crescent moon”. He, like the crescent moon, is in a waning period, wasting away almost to nothing. But after the new moon, it starts to wax again, just as Subaru is doing with Haru in his life.
There’s still a lot to like about My Roommate’s A Cat. It’s a really cute show with a great heart, and a little cleverness, if you know where to look. Ideally, though, the show won’t rest on its laurels. Just because something is slice-of-life doesn’t mean that nothing of consequence happens. I expect the show to pick up in its later episodes, even though I doubt it will ever sink below the level of tolerability. This one was just fine on its own, but I know they can do better.