She and her Cat tells the story of Daru, a beautiful black cat who keeps his owner company in their shared apartment. The girl’s roommate moves out to live with her fiancé and now faced with double the rent bill, she needs to find a job on top of her college studies. She becomes somewhat depressed after several failed interviews and her estranged mother calls her, begging her to move back home. But she refuses, because no matter how hard things get, she still comes home to Daru every night and everything seems okay again.
This series originally seemed like the anime equivalent of a cup of chamomile tea on a summer evening, calming with a touch of optimism. But as it progressed it became a cup of coffee on a rainy day, simultaneously sad and comforting with a bittersweet aftertaste. She and Her Cat is very realistic, and a lot of the realism lies in its main themes.
It’s definitely a story about growing up, as told by the friend that’s been there the longest. It makes very little difference that the friend is also a cat, because he’s very humanised. It doesn’t matter that they’re different species; they’ve lived and grown together and that’s all that counts. It also adds a new perspective, because Daru doesn’t understand everything and doesn’t get to see whatever happens beyond the front door. Neither do the audience, and that way we see the world from Daru’s viewpoint. He’s an old cat and has stuck with his owner since childhood but as she gets older, he remains the only constant in her life. The girl was once hopeful and saw moving out as an opportunity but when that hope is crushed she becomes bitter and jaded. Not everything turns out as planned, and this anime certainly reflects that.
However, despite things going wrong, there’s always the chance to turn them around. As a child, the owner abandoned Daru because she was jealous of him getting all her mother’s attention, but she regrets it and brings him back home. She cut off contact with her mother because she remarried and kept asking her to move in with her and her new husband. But they reunite and she realises just how worried her mother actually was so she tries to fix their relationship.
While She and her Cat emphasises the importance of redemption, it also shows that moving on is sometimes the right choice. The girl goes away to school, leaving behind her home because she believed it was the best thing for her. It may not have been everything she imagined, but for a time she was happy and living with friends while getting an education. Both the roommate and mother end up moving into the next stage of their lives by getting married. While the roommate is getting married for the first time and moving on from life at the apartment, the mother is getting married again and moving on from her previous husband who’s no longer around. This perfectly shows that the same event can affect people differently, but also goes back to the idea that it’s never too late to change and get things right.
Although, without giving too much away, the biggest example of having to accept a huge life change and starting over comes at the end.
She and Her Cat is made up of four seven-minute episodes, so the whole series fits neatly into the timeframe of a regular episode. And despite its short length, it’s subtle enough to leave it up to the audience to piece everything together. Daru is our narrator and he’s not exactly the most reliable, seeing as he only sees what happens within the same four walls. Because of that, he doesn’t tell us everything. This anime doesn’t spoon-feed every piece of information but it’s easy enough to realise what’s happening. Plus, the episodes are brief enough to hold even a short attention span.
The animation and music work together, to create the perfect mood for the storyline.
Because it’s a serious anime with very real themes, it wouldn’t make sense for overly dramatic music or exaggerated art styles. They’re both subdued, but support the plot without disappearing into the background. The colours are toned down, almost looking like watercolour in places. The overall aesthetic of this series is beautiful and very easy to watch, making it an excellent choice for a quick something to watch at the end of the evening. This is especially true if you’ve come home from a long day at work or college because it can be cathartic. It’s relatable to those who feel frustrated or are adjusting to a new stage of life.
Overall, She and Her Cat shows us some of the most human moments in someone’s life, seen through the eyes of someone who isn’t human. Daru says himself that he doesn’t always understand, but he tries and that’s what makes him seem more like a person. Perhaps looking at life from a cat’s perspective allows the audience to take a step back and realise that whatever struggles are happening right now, they won’t last forever. The ending may be emotional, but there’s a silver lining and puts a positive spin on a series which could’ve ended tragically.