Okay, you got me
Overview (Spoilers Below)
Nothing is going right for Subaru. His editor refuses to leave him alone, constantly trying to schedule meetings outside of Subaru’s house, and Haru has been going crazy, jumping in the air and knocking things over. Subaru just wants to be left alone, but when his editor discovers that he’s kept Haru, he won’t stay away. Now, his editor is showing up nearly daily in order to play with Haru. Subaru learns that his editor’s wife is allergic to cats, so he can never have one of his own, despite his love for them.
Later, Haru accidentally knocks over Subaru’s parents’ shrine, and Subaru yells at her. He goes to get some things to fix the shrine out of his parent’s room, but Haru follows him in there as well. Haru knocks over some photo albums, and Subaru goes into a flashback. He remembers that as a boy, he hated leaving the house as well, he didn’t like to play with the other kids at school and didn’t want to take trips with his parents. On his final refusal to go on a trip, his parents died in a bus crash. In the photo album, he learns that their next trip was going to be to his favorite author’s house. He breaks down in tears, but Haru comforts him.
We then switch to Haru’s perspective and find out what was making her act so wild in the last portion of the episode. It turns out that Haru is seeing pink clouds that are scaring her. She’s determined to dispatch the clouds in order to protect the house for Subaru and herself. On one of her attempts, she knocks over the shrine and is scared by Subaru’s yelling.
She follows him into his parent’s bedroom and sees Subaru crying over the photo album. She goes to comfort him, and it’s a large help to both of their fragile psyches. Later, she sees the clouds one more time. She prepares for a fight, but they turn out to be the spirits of Subaru’s dead parents. They look Haru in the eye and thank her for protecting their son. Then, they dissolve into yellow balls of light and disappear. Haru’s editor comes over one last time, and Subaru asks him if he would like to feed Haru.
This is simply a beautiful episode. I was worried after last week that the show would dissolve into a series of nothing conflicts and drag, but I have never been so glad to be wrong. The tenderness that My Roommate is a Cat is able to evoke is truly something to be praised, and this was a deeply emotional watch for me. The climax of the episode was deeply cathartic and was exactly what I needed today.
We find out some dark information this week. Firstly, we learn that Subaru is still living in his dead parents’ house, and furthermore, he’s still in his own bedroom. We’d had hints before that this was Subaru’s family home. The neighbors recognize him, after all, but now we see how hard it has been for him to move on after his parents’ death. He’s not only stuck in a mausoleum of memories, but their deaths have stunted his emotional growth as well, leaving him an adolescent… unless Haru can help him.
The other thing that we learn is that Subaru feels, himself, responsible for his parent’s death, or at least has some survivor’s guilt. If he had been a better son, he would have died with them, and that is a hard contradiction to have to live with. This too contributes to his protracted adolescence. His selfish teenaged behavior is what kept him alive, and he continues to wear it like armor, even after it’s long outlasted its usefulness.
Now, there are people who he can help. He’s no longer the sad child he once was, he needs to take on the role his parents had for him, to aid in the survival of some (Haru) and the joy of others (his editor). I think that My Roommate is a Cat has a great economy of details. Subaru’s editor having a wife allergic to cats is a fun reason to get him to bother Subaru, but it’s also a nice touch to a character that mostly has his life together, but needs something from Subaru.
Maybe my only complaint is the ghosts of Subaru’s parents. The show has been quasi-mystical so far—there was even talk that Haru is the reincarnation of Subaru’s parents in the pilot—but actually bringing forth the ghosts of Subaru’s parents felt a little early in the series, and maybe an idea to pad out the Haru side of an episode that was very Subaru-focused. The show is also breaking its own rules a little bit by showing new human information during the parts from Haru’s perspective. This is all nitpicking, though, none of it took me out of the episode for more than a second.
This episode is all about the climax, though. After a well-laid setup that Subaru never pets Haru, the lead-up to their caress and each’s subsequent reactions is played with the grace of a kiss in a Hays-code era Hollywood film. These two do have a love for each other, and to see it consummated in this wonderfully platonic was deeply satisfying. These are two beings who are afraid to need each other, but it’s the moments like this that make them realize that they fear each other’s absence much more than the need itself.
My Roommate is a Cat has been nothing but a rewarding watch so far. This is the kind of show that I criticize only because I know that it can do better. It’s going to be hard, however, for it to do better than this week. The trickle of backstory coupled with the relationship of the two leads makes this the anime I most look forward to week-to-week.