‘My Roommate is a Cat’ and the importance of character arcs

Spoiler alert!

“I regret things every single day. So just be sure to thank them next time, and let’s work hard to make sure “next time” happens”
– Atsushi, My Roommate is a Cat, episode 9

Character development is something I value a lot when looking at a show or movie. Whether a character becomes better or flawed, it is always interesting to see how the story changes how a character sees the world. But from the shows I’ve watched, this doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention. A character might change a little, become a better person or something like that, but very few shows make that change interesting and satisfying. And this is where ‘My Roommate is a Cat’ delivers.

My Roommate is a Cat, directed by Kaoru Suzuki, the producer behind ‘Flying Witch’ and ‘Is it Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon’, is an adaptation of a manga by the same name by As Futatsuya and Tunami Minatuki. The show follows Subaru Mikazuki, a book writer who’s mourning the death of his parents. One day Subaru finds a stray cat who follows him from his parents grave. And eventually, Subaru decides to keep her.
The episodes usually are structured in two parts. The first half is usually of Subaru trying to write on his book, but how the cat, who he later names Haru, gets in the way.
The second half then centers around the cats and her thoughts, where we get some context of what the cat was doing in the first half.

And when I first started watching this show, I was not enjoying it at all. Subaru felt like a very bland protagonist, one I had seen so much before. The cat half of the episodes were still pretty enjoyable, but it was not worth it. So at the third episode, I was almost about to drop the show. But I got a feeling that I had to at least watch the whole episode before deciding whether I wanted to watch the show or not. And thank god I did.
The episode spends most of its first-half showing Haru jumping around the house. We don’t see what Haru is jumping at, but it is revealed that she is seeing some sort of spiritual energy that is later revealed to be the ghost of Subaru’s parents. Subaru is still haunted by his parents. But as he follows Haru around the house, she knocks down a few books which remind him of his parents. He gets a meltdown and starts to cry on the floor, thinking about whether it was his fault or not that they died. This was the thing that changed my mind about the show. I wasn’t crying or anything, but the thought-process was extremely realistic. I have probably seen that concept a couple of times, but the way that they wrote the scene was amazing.
Subaru then realizes that he has ignored everyone around him and their feelings, and has just thought of what he feels. This is a turning point in the character, where we see how Subaru starts to want to change who he is.
We see how Subaru starts to do things that he wouldn’t normally do, cause he wants to change to become a better person. He meets new friends, does meet-ups for his books and other social activities. It is extremely satisfying to see how Subaru is actively trying to change as a person throughout the show. He feels like an actual person because of it. And that’s why character development is so important. Cause it makes for realistic, interesting and immersive characters. It is one of the best character arcs I have seen in a while.
At the end of the scene, we see how the ghost of Subaru’s parents disappears. Subaru is no longer haunted by his past.

The best episode in the show is easily episode 9, where I took the quote at the top. This is where the structure of the show changes. In the episode, we start from Haru’s perspective, where we see how Subaru leaves his home looking rather distressed. Haru experiences so many different emotions at once from this. Anger, sadness, anxiety. We still don’t know where Subaru is, and we seriously worry about what Subaru is doing and why he hasn’t come home. We sympathize with Haru, cause we have the same relationship with him as Haru has.
And after half of the episode, we finally see where Subaru is. At a meet-up with for his book. This is something we know Subaru doesn’t like since he has shown his displeasure of it in the episodes before it. He starts out the meet-up thinking that everyone would be disappointed by him. But he slowly realizes how much happiness he has given to people, how much he means to them.
He realizes that he hasn’t thanked any of the people, and starts to get anxious again. But right when that happens, his editor Kawase tells him how everyone makes mistakes, and that it is just about making sure you don’t let that stop doing what you love. That is where the quote comes from. And while saying “don’t give up” or “Everyone makes mistakes” is probably one of the most cliche lines you could write, the way it is written here makes it extremely good.
And when the last fan leaves and Subaru realizes that he hasn’t thanked her, he starts to get anxious again. But he remembers what Kawase told him, and he loudly says “Thank you so much”.
This feels like another turning point in his character, where he understands that his work is appreciated.

And this is why I love this show. You know, there’s a unique score, some fine comedy, but this is what makes the show what it is. Showing the importance of the people around you could be very cliche, but this show manages to make it extremely immersive.
In the last episode of the show, Subaru comes home late from a trip and tells his friend Hiroto to make sure Haru is all right. But since there’s such a big storm outside, Hiroto couldn’t close the door at Subaru’s and Haru runs out. Throughout most of the show, we have seen Subaru not enjoying the company of his friends. He finds them all annoying and a nuisance to his work. But in the last episode, Subaru and all of his friends get together to find Haru. He doesn’t even have a problem asking a stranger if they’ve seen Haru. And this ending was honestly amazing. Showing Subaru’s development like this was very emotional, and really encapsulates why I love his character.
It is one of the few shows/movies I would call inspiring.

‘My Roommate is a Cat’ is a show that doesn’t look like much. It looks like a comedy show with some cute animation of a cat playing around. But the way this played with my expectations was honestly astounding. It is a show I would normally not watch. But now that I have, it was a pleasure for sure!

4 Comments on “‘My Roommate is a Cat’ and the importance of character arcs

  1. Subaru’s character did undertake an interesting arc throughout the series. I really enjoyed the interaction between author and cat and how the story dealt with both of their emotional issues that they started the story with.

    Like

  2. I felt that Subaru really developed well throughout the whole show. The low stakes of the story helped the character development shine more prominently. I do agree that episode 9 was great though. 😀

    Like

  3. Pingback: In Case You Missed It 2019 #20 – 100 Word Anime

  4. Pingback: Must-read Monthly Monday (Jul. 2019 ed.) – The Animanga Spellbook

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