One of my favourite quotes goes: "Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious."
It can be easy when you get caught up in the philosophical twists and turns of your daily encounters for one decision to become an entire blockade that stops you progressing in your life. You look left and right, you assess the possible outcomes and decide that any decision you make will incur a sacrifice! Life is fine just as it is, why do you have to make a choice at all?! However, you are shackled by responsibilities that you don't recall having primarily taken upon yourself and the consequences of your procrastination grin like cheshire cats behind each happy moment! You know that with an eventual decision a plan will bloom from the collision between fate and hope, however, it will falter swiftly into obscurity! Life just isn't fair! Oh my God, has my hair started falling out?!?
Sometimes we take life too seriously and things get a little melodramatic - well, that's okay, right? It's a typical human response, why blame yourself? However, it is not always an easy frame of mind to escape from, we can get stuck in the rut of over-analysing and let things like silly mistakes crush us like a Warner Brothers anvil.
For those of us who need a little bit of encouragment, Chi's Sweet Home is the perfect medicine - on some of the shittiest days I had this year nothing else could bring me back down to earth like Chi did. So now, with my cup of morning tea by my side and no Chi to welcome me into the day, I feel it appropriate instead to tell you potential viewers a little bit about what makes this such a fantastic series...
Simplicity at its most entertaining, our adorable little kitty is distracted by a bird and her life changes forever. Mama is suddenly nowhere to be seen, and after a few scary encounters a fearful and lonely Chi realises she may be completely lost. One fortunate stumbling boy and a pitiful mother later, Chi is adopted apprehensively into the Yamada family who risk upsetting their landlady to give Chi shelter in their home.
What follows after this 3-minute setup is 100 episodes of pure fun, curiosity, comedy, and tear-inducing cuteness. We witness life from both the perspective of the Yamada family and Chi herself - unsurprisingly both perspectives are utterly different and make for many funny moments. Each 3-minute episode manages to deliver no matter how basic the events are; we follow Chi through her first encounters with various objects, bodily functions, tastes, and activities. Something as simple as brushing Chi for the first time makes for a warm and funny episode, aswell as the more constructed episodes such as Chi being left alone in the apartment and causing havoc. I would giggle, smile, or be in complete stitches for each episode; nothing was mundane and Chi's curiosity became infectious. This is also the main gripe I could possibly consider - Chi's mischievious nature could really take the show anywhere, and it was a shame that so much of her time was spent indoors and any days she spent outside felt like they should have been more 'epic' in some way.
You would imagine something like Chi's Sweet Home to be prime anime marathon material but I would tend to disagree. Sometimes I could not control the want for more and would watch 3 episodes in a row, but with the effect each episode was having I knew it was meant to be treated like gold and as such limited to only one episode a day.
There are many tender moments aswell as comedic, and the last few episodes were notably sadder in tone. Yet, this adds to the overall satisfaction - you might not even realise as the episodes continue to go by that you are becoming more and more empathetic to this strangely simple little family. There is overriding plot, mainly in the form of the Yamada family trying to figure out what to do with Chi and ensure she is not discovered by the landlady. However, the episode structure makes this plot so subtle that I had the "I don't want this to end...!" feeling throughout - I didn't want a conclusion, I just wanted endless kitty fun!
Very suitable for the mood and setup of the show, the animation can barely be faulted. The character designs are very simple and the colours are bright and basic. What stands out here is that despite Chi's simple design her range of facial expressions is awe-inspiring!! Not to mention completely hilarious and adorable! Although the animation is easily described as simple there is plenty of variety in other places also - all the residents of the apartment look different, even the pigeons are drawn in an endearing manner. The only thing that confused me was Kuroi's tail which looked like a child's hand inside a glove. I still haven't figured that one out.
For me, perfection. Everything you hear in Chi's Sweet Home is created to a point of near perfection. To start with the obvious: Satomi Koorogi's Chi is a pure delight to listen to, and near impossible to dislike... Chi's trademark giggle, angry grumble and surprised "huh" are sounds that will not only become stuck in your head but sounds you long to hear again and again. Koorogi's Chi is so damn perfect that I cannot even begin to imagine a dubbed attempt of Chi's Sweet Home - there would surely be no other who could bring such a quality of life to a character? The rest of the characters are also suitably voiced, you can hear Youhei's innocent charm whenever you hear him call "Chii-ii!" and Father Yamada's anxious nature spills out from his seiyuu's performance for very funny moments.
The reason I feel the sound deserves a 10 in Chi's Sweet Home is because it struck the balance between great voice performances and awesome music! The Chi OP not only brought tears of joy to my eyes upon first listen, but is something that became part of the Chi experience itself. Here I can mention something fairly important, for a lot of my Chi viewing I shared with my boyfriend - now, he not only detests cats but if given the choice we would have probably watched another shounen title. However, it was him who first started a personal craze of ours - every time the Chi OP started he would begin singing it in a voice that attempt to mimic Chi and from them on we would both sing along to the tune. Yes, we were horrendously kawaii and I know if anyone had recorded those moments it'd be difficult for us to be taken seriously ever again. However, it is evidence to support my claim - Chi is infectious happiness and you should not be ashamed for enjoying it!
The music though... really guys, it's amazing - even the transition effect when time lapsed was a wonderful little twinkle. The various pieces heard throughout the series were complimentary to anything going on on screen at the time. Particularly, Kuroi's theme every time he came into frame with his trademark gruff "yo!" would always put a smile on my face! There are multiple pieces to accompany all the various comedic and cheeky moments involving Chi - it upholds a sense of variety although so much of what happens is fairly similar.
Chi is our star of the show - adorably naive, greedy, inadvertently insensitive, and endlessly curious with a penchant for unpredictable mood swings. She is a typical cat, and never presented as anything more. She does not understand human ways and we do not impose them on her, she is simply a kitty. Amazing, then, how attached we become to her over the course of the series. Cats are the only animals who are cute despite being inherently selfish and superior; when they knead us with their claws we smile and rub their bellies. They are treated like Gods and sometimes it's as though they know it! Chi is no exception, she is often a little madam but it only makes her character greater - we let her get away with anything as long as it means more laughs. The reason for this? Well, she's just adorable. Yes, one minute she is haughtily turning her back on one of the Yamada family, but the next she is pulling stupid faces or running around like a lunatic. Whether it is a case of having a bad memory or a feline version of ADHD it is endearing, funny, and we love her for it.
Unfortunately, the Yamadas are not as developed as our little Chi, but they are distinctly human - after all, it is very irresponsible to try and bring up a kitten in a small apartment that doesn't allow pets. Some of the decisions they make are not the most admirable, and poor Chi does suffer for this, in a hilarious or cute way of course! Being oblivious to the Yamadas' plight, Chi simply wants to have fun, often to the disdain of one of the Yamadas who know Chi's actions could cause her to be seen by the landlady or another tenant. It was a hilarious moment watching as Chi discovers the outside world through the window and tries to celebrate with Father and Youhei, only for Mother Yamada to run in and frantically wrench poor Chi off the windowsill.
Kuroi, or "Blackie", or "bear cat", is another great addition to the cast! His role in the show changes over the course of time, and I refuse to spoil too much there. However, his scenes with Chi serve as a fantastic contrast between two personalities and are very funny.
Chi's Sweet Home is still a fairly niche title. I know that it could not appeal to everyone in the same way it has done for others. It is, at least, something more than worth trying out! I imagine many have browsed the title's info and thought of it as something fairly childish or too cutesy, with not enough typical anime cliches such as big breasts, giant swords, and prepubescent romance. It is not a typical anime, so if you're in the mood for something refreshing, easy-going, and thoroughly rewarding you should give it a shot. As soon as one episode starts you may feel your pupils dilate and the addiction set in immediately! That would be worth it, right?