I give this cute, short anime about a girl and her cat...an 89/100!
One of the things that put Makoto Shinkai on the map is a short film he made called She and Her Cat, which is basically about a woman and her cat. A lot of people liked it for its simplicity and could relate to the premise. Years later, the short would be adapted into a much longer manga, and someone else had the idea of expanding on the story in an anime format, called She and Her Cat: Everything Flows. I actually did see this show when it first came out, but during that time, I was hit with severe burnout and couldn't bring myself to watch more than one anime a month. Now that I've finally managed to dig myself out of said burnout, I decided to revisit this one again because Discotek Media announced they licensed it and recently released it on Blu-Ray with an English dub. That was reason enough for me to go back to it, and I'm glad to say that it's a very cute, heartwarming series that deserves more love.
When Miyu was a young girl, her father died, and after moving to a new town, she's lonely and miserable. One day, her mother brings home a cute little black cat she named Daru, hoping he'd be a good friend to her. At first, Miu doesn't like the cat and wants nothing to do with him. But after some trial and error, they eventually become friends, and Daru spends his life with Miu, watching over her, seeing her grow, and spending every day by her side. Years later, both have grown up, and Miyu has moved out of her house to live on her own, though her decision has caused some friction between her and her mother. Now an adult, Miyu finds herself looking for a job, but it hasn't quite gone well so far. But Daru remains by her side, always supporting her and being there for her when she needs comfort.
If you're looking for a short anime to watch, this only has four episodes, all of which are seven minutes long. But it has a relaxing atmosphere and is slow paced, making it perfect for it you want to take a few short minutes to wind down and have a cup of tea. The animation adds to this effect, with realistic character designs, a soft color palette, detailed backgrounds, and minimal movement, but just enough fluidity that the characters' actions, expressions, and gestures say a lot more than words do. The music is very nice as well, with gentle piano tunes that convey the slow monotony of Daru's days in his apartment, whether he's just putzing around the house or laying in his kitty bed, reminiscing about his life. The opening song by Kana Hanazawa (Which is only on the Blu-Ray version, not the TV version) is also very well done and well sung, very much like a lullaby. I'm a bit mixed about the ending song, as I think the vocals are a little too strong for my liking, but that's just nitpicking on my part.
The cast for the show is extremely small, with only four named characters taking center stage, and all of them are pretty nicely fleshed out in the short amount of time they have. The animation also adds to the characterization, conveying the character's personalities, motivations, and worries without relying too much on dialogue or exposition, letting the characters express themselves by their own actions and their interactions with others. The show is mostly told from Daru's point of view, and being a cat, he doesn't quite understand what goes on around him, only seeing Miyu and the changes she undergoes every day, from coming home exhausted after a hard day, or when she's at a low point and needing a good cry. Having grown up with animals myself, I can say for sure that the creators did a great job in depicting Daru as just a regular cat, from the way he moves around to how he gives Miyu comfort even though he doesn't know what's going on or why she's sad. I do think some of his monologues tend to be a little too self-aware for a cat or more like a romantic admirer than...well, an animal. I can see what the anime was trying to do, and his monologues are nice to listen to, but some parts were a little much. But again, I'm probably nitpicking, and Daru himself is a well done character. Plus, it's easy to relate to Miyu and her struggles with both job hunting and her anxiety about becoming more independent, and she, her mother, and friend actually behave and talk like people rather than overexaggerated anime archetypes.
This is a sweet, charming anime about a girl and her kitty that's gentle, heartwarming, and bittersweet at times, but it's the kind of anime I'm sure lots of people can relate to. I know I sure did! I had three cats growing up. Two of them died from old age, the most recent one being two years ago, and the other my family had to give away because she had health problems we weren't able to handle (Something I'm still sad about to this day), but I cherished all three of them throughout my life, and still do. I currently have a dog and she's proven to be just as sweet, loving, and nauseatingly cute as all the other pets I've had throughout my life. The anime does a perfect job of capturing the simple affection pets can offer us, and while the ending may not be to some peoples' personal taste, I personally thought it tied the show up perfectly.
Bottom line, whether you've seen Shinkai's original short or not, this is a cute, sweet show that's sure to give you the warm fuzzies. Also, remember to cherish your pets!