“On the other side of the door is an imperfect world that’s also a bit cruel. She’s doing her best to learn to love that world. And for that, I love her very much.”
She and Her Cat -Everything Flows-, Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko, is based on one of Makoto Shinkai’s earlier works, She and Her Cat -Everything Flows- follows the life of a college student, referred to as She, and her black cat, Daru.
Review: / 5
I should first disclose that I have never seen the original 1999 work of She and Her Cat. I expected a standard slice of life show full of lighthearted entertainment: some box kitties, knocking things off shelves, laser pointers– pure silly humor. Instead, I was met with a quiet and unreserved intimacy. The short series totals a half an hour and four 7-minute episodes, yet gracefully provokes intense themes in a gentle manner.
For such a short series, it is difficult to talk about pacing. The show covers a year’s time, and I think it does a brilliant job working in the limited constructs it has set for itself. The plot is deceptively simple yet incredibly resonant– what every slice of life should be, though stripped from all of the slap-stick humor I’ve come to expect from the genre. The series is a whispered honesty, a sigh. I’m still baffled how a work can be so soft and striking.
The most obvious point would be its proclamation on the intuitive and emotional bond owner and pet share, and the power such a bond possesses over the two parties. Most owners will recognize the ties of love and loyalty that weave our two characters together. As a young women who moved halfway around the world with just her cat and no connections to speak of, the series hit very close to home. I was reminded of the shattering loneliness, the dependency for Zelda’s affection and presence in my life, the frustrations of feeling like I should be farther along than I was in life–that I should be more than I was in life.
Perhaps what makes this series so impactful is not the bond we share with our pets, but what that bond shows us about ourselves. I’ve asked Zelda many questions in our short years together; I’ve told her things I do not think I could have told myself. In my struggle with mental illnesses, thoughts of suicide and self-harm, she offered me refuge with a soft purr and some gentle licks. I have never felt more understood, more listened to or welcomed than I have with my pet. She and Her Cat demonstrates this private sphere so many of us hide from the world, refusing to acknowledge our insecurities and failings, both real and imaginary. With a delicate touch, this piece exposes astute observations on depression, millennial expectations, and the unfathomable vastness of grief.
My mother used to tell me that everything you gain has and equal cost. That if love is life’s greatest reward, loss is its most painful price. The death of Daru was heart-wrenching. And this simple animation pushed me over the edge to tears:
The dark circles, the shattered and solemn expression. The aching loneliness from being abandoned by one’s closest comrade. We’re reminded how finite life is and we’re faced not only with our mortality, but more importantly, the mortality of those we hold dear.
The result is a profound emotional experience, one which I will not likely forget. And it’s what gives this show a five out of five for me.
Thanks for reading, my lovelies. I cherish each and every one of you.
Watch on, Annieme-niac.