Adopting a pet can be life-altering for humans and animals alike. Anime studio Zero-G explores both sides of this transformative relationship in My Roommate Is A Cat, the ridiculously heartwarming tale of a shut-in author and his fuzzy new companion. It has all the cat feels.
Based on the manga series Dōkyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue (My Housemate Is On My Lap, But Sometimes, On My Head) from Flex Comix, My Roommate Is A Cat is not, as I originally suspected, the story of a young man who takes in a stray cat that can transform into an attractive young woman with ears and a tail. Instead, it follows Subaru Mikazuki, a 23-year-old mystery writer who’s been a shut-in since the death of his parents in a tour bus accident. One day, while visiting his parents’ memorial, Subaru is surprised by a stray female tuxedo cat who pounces on his offering of fresh salmon. Struck with an idea for his next novel by the feline’s sudden appearance, Subaru decides to take the stray home.
Each episode of My Roommate Is A Cat tells a story from two perspectives. First we experience the events from Subaru’s viewpoint. Then we switch to the cat’s. In the first episode, once the unlikely pair meet, Subaru works himself to exhaustion writing, ignoring his need to eat and sleep. He also has to deal with his new companion, who’s leaving mysterious piles of cat food by his door. Eventually, Subaru passes out from exhaustion in a pile of dry cat food. When he wakes, the food is gone.
Then we switch to the cat’s perspective. Worried that she, a stray used to having to hunt for her meals, has food while her human friend does not, she leaves offerings from her bowl in his path, hoping he will eat. Frustrated that he doesn’t get her hints, she pushes the whole bowl to his door. When Subaru collapses, he reaches out in a daze for whatever food is close and devours the cat food.
Disgusting, yes, but also the beginning of a beautiful relationship. In the next episode, the cat finally gets a name. After calling out a series of different names, Subaru is surprised when the cat comes to Haru, a character from a story his mother read him as a child. Swapping to the cat’s perspective, we learn that a girl named Haru used to give her food, making the stray equate the sound with being fed.
These little misunderstandings and lapses in communication are hallmarks of the series. There are also moments of genuine connection, as when Haru consoles Subaru during a moment of grief over his lost parents.
Haru, of course, benefits from the relationship as well. She’s had a difficult life: scavenging for food, losing siblings to predators, and other feline hardships. Now, as well as having food and eventually affection on tap, she discovers that she’s not as alone in the world as she thought.
Eventually, the black and white ball of fur opens Subaru up to the world around him. Subaru’s editor, Atsushi Kawase, is used to only seeing the reclusive mystery writer on rare occasions. Once he finds out Subaru has a cat, feline-crazy Atsushi starts stopping by much more often.
And when Subaru is forced to sojourn to the local pet store for food, a collar, and various other cat accouterments, he meets Nana Okami. Nana is an incredibly helpful store clerk who takes an interest in both the author and his cat, despite Subaru’s near-crippling social awkwardness.
My Roommate Is A Cat isn’t just about the relationship between man and beast: Two broken souls find each other and begin to mend. It’s a common tale told in an inventive and incredibly charming way. My Roommate Is A Cat is a beautiful story of blossoming love and how it changes the lives of those involved. Even the ones with four legs.