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Score: 7.85/10

Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue.

Eng Title : My Roommate is a Cat

Alt Title : My roommate is sometimes on my knees, sometimes on my head, Hizaue

JP Title : 同居人はひざ、時々、頭のうえ。

Year : 2019

Genre : Comedy, Slice of Life

Season : Winter 2019

Status : Complete

Rating : PG-13 - Teens 13 or older

Episodes : 12/12

Duration : 23 min. per ep.

Studios : Zero-G

Synopsis

Subaru Mikazuki is a 23-year-old mystery novel author, major introvert, and an awkwardly shy person. He would much rather stay home to read a book than go outside and interact with others. Further exacerbating this life of solitude, his parents tragically died in an accident many years ago, leaving him alone in the world. One day, while giving offerings at his parents' grave, Subaru runs into a small grey and white cat named Haru, which he ends up taking home with him. Subaru, however, has never taken care of anyone else in his life—can he even take care of a cat? Haru is grateful toward Subaru, as he gives her all the food she wants—a luxury for a cat who is used to a rough life on the streets. But she notices that Subaru can't even seem to take care of himself! Will she be okay with this dunce? Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue. tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a human and a cat who try to foster an understanding with each other. [Written by MAL Rewrite]

“My Roommate is a Cat” (or its longer name: check the alternative title) is this season’s obligatory hidden gem. And honestly, this series really came out of nowhere and surprised the hell out of us, much more than its lesser audience on the original web manga source.

To start off, the main lead: Subaru Minazuki, a 23-year-old novelist, and pretty much like Wataten’s Miyako, once again we have another lead that is literally a shut-in, and is conflicted in social experiences. His speech to the outside world is through his novelist job, after his parents’ demise in an accident. However, this introverted life of his is about to take a turn with the introduction of Haru, a stray Tuxedo cat, once from a big family of 5 cats (herself and her 4 younger siblings), and split up from the harsh living conditions of the world. Their chance encounter is a blessing in disguise, as Subaru was out of ideas for his next novel, and Haru is the next step in his life and story portrayals, watching and examining Haru as he goes, and occasionally does the usual things of animal care control, such as feeding Haru and letting it roam around the empty house.

On a side-note, don’t be misunderstood to take this series too seriously. Due to its comedic-SoL genres, it is meant as a relieving series, one that is worth a carefree heart. By far the standout of the series is the mammal-animal POV-change in perspective, where Subaru and Haru will take turns depicting the series day-to-day issues and moments through their own eyes, and it’s quite relatable for both typical humans and cats’ actions. Factor in the misunderstandings that leads both Subaru and Haru to go through the daily life, it actually leads to better character development for Subaru as he deals with the loss of his parents to eventually being sociable again, while Haru spends her “cat has 9 lives” life understanding what Subaru is going through, and occasionally gets high and worried about him, mostly on his well-being, and that’s what matters much to her. So much so that it makes this series relive the E.T.-esque moments between human and cat, a truly unconvenential but dynamic relationship. And a shoutout to Haru’s VA (Haruka Yamazaki, Inou-Battle’s Tomoko and Monster Musume’s Meroune), her voice totally fits Haru’s cat character traits and personality to a degree that’s fierce but heartwarming all at the same time.

Side characters are there, but they only serve the purpose of irritating and surprising both Subaru and Haru along in life’s course. Subaru’s hardcore editor Kawase Atsushi and childhood friend Hiroto Yasaka, whom both of them really try their best to talk to Subaru and open his heart, he just wouldn’t budge, and fears much of them than the outside world (in total comedic fashion). And since both of them like cats (of Kawase being a cat-lover freak), Haru would often scour at them, making for a comedic Domino Effect that lasts for that time. Nana Okami, the pet store owner, which Subaru often frequents, is a life-saver for him in helping to take care of Haru. Oh, and she has one of Haru’s younger sibling as well.

Art and animation is quite the fondness, something equal and a calm collective mix of both Feel and Shaft. A prolific and growing studio, Zero-G manages yet again on a promise to just let the storytelling and its characters take the course, while the art and animation is kept consistent at the level where it doesn’t feel like a burn to watch this series. Moreover, sometimes I find myself going to sleep at the warm and cool backgrounds of both the art and characters fleshed out. That’s how addictive this series is to the touch.

Music-wise, it carries the same sentiments that this series is trying to portray to us viewers. Accompanying this anime, is the OP and ED songs that sounds heartwarming and at times, exceptional and cool. Even the background music helps out some to help the characters depict their life. Another area of greatness.

The only minor complaint I have is that sometimes with the over-sentimental feelings and lack of plot, it can get boring at times, and the enjoyment wanes after awhile. While I agree that this show isn’t for everyone, many will agree that this show is such a cutie-pie to watch for cuteness overload with the sweet, sweet feelings permitting out of this show. A truly recommended watch for times of refreshing.

My life as a child growing up was a lonely one. I was socially awkward, didn’t have many friends, and preferred to stay inside reading/playing video games rather than going out. I pushed a lot of people away from me, even people that were trying to reach out to me, especially my parents. In fact, my best friend in high school wasn’t even a person: it was a kitten that I adopted from the veterinarian’s office we’d take our older cats to. Daisy was a gorgeous kitten and loyal to a fault, but there was obviously something with her different from most cats. She was very slow, didn’t move around a lot, didn’t eat much, was very small, and altogether had a very sicky appearance despite being in “good health”. Daisy and I were an absolute perfect match for each other. Both of us highly valued our alone time and didn’t like being bothered by other people. However, I suspect as was in my case, she was also feeling very lonely. Our 3 other cats loved to play together, and she was mainly terrified by them, so she’d always end up hiding in my room. I also hid in my room, reading alone, holing myself in a corner and walling my heart off from the rest of the world. Daisy and I developed a close bond: she would curl up in my lap or on my desk as I would be reading or playing games, never begging me for attention, but just being there for me. Perhaps she could feel how alone I felt, how fragile and lost I was. She was the absolute perfect pet for a companion. Unfortunately, midway through high school, she started having seizures. Something was obviously very wrong, the vets couldn’t figure out what it was, and she stopped eating almost altogether after only a few months after her first seizure. It was then she was diagnosed with an enlarged heart: there was nothing they could do to save her, and a few weeks later, her poor huge little heart eventually gave out for good. Personally, I’d like to believe that she was just too pure, innocent, and loving for this world that her heart was proportionally sized, and her body wasn’t able to support all of her love. At the time though, I was absolutely devastated. Losing the thing that was closer to me than anything broke me. I was actually alone and I fell apart almost entirely. What resulted from this, however, wasn’t a similar sad ending for me. From the impact Daisy had on my life, I was able to gather the courage and strength to reach out for help and rejoin the world. Because of Daisy, time unfroze for me, and I began to grow within myself exponentially. Perhaps this is why My Roommate is a Cat resonates so strongly for me. I see myself in Subaru, who as a child had a very similar experience to mine, and finally grew into a confident, strong young man because of the impact a single kitten had on the path of his life. Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue. is a story told in a unique way I have never before seen. I had always wondered what Daisy would say to me had she been able to speak, but I felt as though we had a bond that was stronger than what could be expressed in words. Through the perspective of Haru, hearing her thoughts and feelings on her relationship with Subaru, I can hypothetically affirm that the feeling I had might have been the case. At the very beginning, our protagonist Mikazuki Subaru is in a similar state to how I previously described myself, dealing with regrets and loss. Meeting Haru is the start of a journey of self-reflection and self-discovery as he begins to learn how to love himself for who he is and starts to see other people as aspects in his life. Although at first I was frustrated and annoyed with some of his actions, the way the story unfolded piecing together his past and how he ended up where he was began to warm me up to his character, enough so that I became personally invested in his development and found myself rooting for him to pick himself back up and face his fears of society and other people. The development in Subaru throughout the story is what is truly what makes My Roommate is a Cat worth watching. Meanwhile, our trusty sidekick, Haru, also has a past full of regrets and loss. I never thought I’d ever get to say this, but I honestly can sympathize with a cat after all was said and done. The way Haru devotes herself to protecting Subaru, seeing herself as the strong one and him as the subordinate, plays off the usual tropes whereby pets think of themselves as the real ‘owners’, but My Roommate is a Cat really crafts this in a beautiful fashion. Haru’s unwavering dedication to protecting Subaru isn’t described as just an air of superiority but rather an undying love for him because of the care he provides for her. Ultimately, Haru isn’t just a plot device used to promote Subaru’s growth and development; she, too, has her own development and free will. Although the art and animation weren’t anything special, Zero-G did an adequate job for the type of show Doukyonin wa Hiza is. For a show where character development is at the forefront, simple animation in this case was a positive because it didn’t overshadow or distract from the main purpose of the show. Meanwhile, the OST was likewise simple but delicately crafted to highlight the emotional moments and stress the theme of hope throughout the entire show. A soundtrack is perfect for me when it touches my heart, and that is what the music here was able to do. And don’t get me started on the OP and the ED… While the music in both does an excellent job of setting the atmosphere for the show, the direction for the OP is absolutely sublime and accurately symbolizes the entire show all within a minute and thirty seconds. There are so many metaphors in the OP that I could write an entire review just on the OP itself! The beginning of the OP depicts the transition of night to day symbolizing Subaru shrouded in darkness being lit up by the entrance of Haru to his life. It is followed by the shot of Subaru alone looking down, surrounded by piles upon piles of books, symbolizing the wall between him and society, until all the books come crashing down upon him with Haru, falling from the sky onto his lap. Again, I could go on and on about how fitting the direction of the OP is for the show, but I’m sure you could see that for yourself. This anime for me is one of the most personally impactful and cathartic shows I have ever seen. It deals with themes of loss, loneliness, failure, and recovering back onto your feet in ways so realistic I can place myself directly inside the story. Every episode has emotionally resonated with me, be it happy or sad moments, causing me to tear up on each one from the strength the character’s emotions are being conveyed. If you’re coming into this expecting ‘just another slice-of-life’, you’re sorely mistaken. All of the characters in My Roommate is a Cat undergo realistic development and change for the better, highlighting the hope this world possesses even in your darkest hours. Regardless of where you are in life, regardless of how alone you feel, how depressed you are, how much you think the world may be against you, My Roommate is a Cat shows that there are people out there that care about you dearly, and there will always be hope. There is and always will be a way up - so never give up!

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