I’ll preface this by saying that any anime featuring a cat as a major character immediately has my interest. I live for Kiki’s Delivery Service and I will mainline Chi’s Sweet Home whenever I need to stare at some adorable cat antics, so naturally, My Roommate is a Cat had my attention just from the title.
A cat narrating its adventures with a human companion? Yeah, I was sold.
However, after actually watching first episode “An Encounter with the Unknown” I started to wonder just what I’d gotten myself into. The protagonist of My Roommate is a Cat is a mystery author named Subaru, and he takes the “socially awkward writer” trope to new extremes. Subaru is a pretty prime example of a hikikomori character, which is an adolescent or adult who withdraws from society, seeking extreme degrees of isolation. Early on in the first episode of the show, Subaru sits at the grave of his recently deceased parents, talking about how great it is that no one will bother him now that they’re gone.
I’m not exactly a social butterfly, but even I was completely thrown by that one.
Subaru’s severe isolation is then challenged when he takes in a stray cat. That kicks off the show’s premise, where the extremely misanthropic writer takes in cat and slowly learns how to be a better person. Which is adorable and heartwarming, but the moments that highlight Subaru’s isolationism are jarring and uncomfortable. And while I absolutely applaud the writers of My Roommate is a Cat for not pulling their punches and glossing over Subaru’s incredibly rude behavior, it does make for some conflicting scenes. You find yourself drawn into Subaru’s inner monologue and understanding him, even as the show makes it obvious that he’s an incredibly unreliable narrator. And the moments that would normally be presented as genuinely wholesome are seen through a thick veneer of paranoia until the show takes a 180 and presents us with the other side.
The titular cat, named Haru, is the exact opposite of Subaru. He’s the perfect foil for a bitter paranoid writer because all Haru wants to do is repay Subaru’s kindness and go back to his life out on the streets. He sees kindness in some of Subaru’s absentminded actions and attempts to return the favor, which is damn adorable. However, not only does Haru have the burden of teaching Subaru how to be a kinder person, he’s also stuck taking care of this idiot hermit who forgets to eat.
All of which is to say, Haru is far too good of a cat for a guy like Subaru. And I want the second episode of this show, damn it.
My Roommate is a Cat is streaming now on Crunchyroll.