The anime will portray the life of the girl, a junior college student job hunting while living alone with her pet black cat.
I'll premise this by saying I've grown up with cats, and that makes a bit biased when it comes to cat-based stories. I had watched the original anime, "She and her Cat" back in February, and this particular anime could be considered the prequel. But enough about that, on with the review! Story: The story is actually a non-story. As the tale is told from the cat's perspective, a lot of the girl's problems are seen through a different light. The female lead is a college-age student who has just lost her roommate and refuses to move back in with her mother and new step-father. She goes through a lot of hardship finding a job and trying to be on her own, and all of the story is told from Daru's perspective, which is kind of neat. It reminded me a lot of a book called "The Art of Racing in the Rain", which has a similar premise and a dog narrator. Animation: The animation is lovely, if a little devoid of detail. Personally, I thought the animation suited the story being told. Had it been too flashy or detailed, it would have distracted from Daru's story. The simplicity of the animation lends a lot to the story being told from a cat's point of view, since a cat isn't going to worry too much about things outside of his range of vision. Sound: The OST is very melancholy, but pretty. It sets a lot of the tone for the anime, and honestly, it was the OST that actually got me to tear up in this anime. Characters: Ok, so how can an anime excel at characterization when the main character is a cat? Daru has a lot of development, a decent backstory, and his personality is shown through his interaction with the female lead. The other characters are shown from his perspective, but are given enough detail to make them interesting. The female lead has a lot of depth for an anime with a run time of 32 minutes. Overall: Go hug a cat.
If you love cats, this is a must watch. The graphics and sound are soothing. The narrative is from the cats point of view and covers all sorts of human emotions from laughter to depression.
She and Her Cat: Everything Flows seems like something I should really dislike on paper. If I were to tell you "here is a story of a depressed young woman and her cat who, through their non-verbal friendship, learn to tackle all of lives problems, and grow stronger" you would likely say "wow... this sounds... cliché?" or "Oh, is this a family film for kids?" Therein lies the problem with stories of this nature, for me, as a viewer. They are overly sentimental, to the point of being more educational than entertaining (educational in the sense of somehow being meant to teach some moral lesson, which would fall into the "family film" realm.) Against all odds and prejudices I may have had, this short series absolutely knocked me on my ass with it's handling of its material. The characters are not overly sentimental, they are... sweet, organic, and dare I say, earnest. Usually, in storylines such as this, the cat would be given some outrageous personification, maybe something like: - A silly voice, maybe it's a perverted old cat who peeps, or gets drunk all day, or thinks its the king of the house and acts accordingly-. - The director attempting to write the narration of the cat with "cLeVeR" "observations. Maybe something like "the human seems to dig through the wooden wallboxes all day in search of food but scoffs when I bring it a mouse. I do not think it is a capable hunter" which is cliché, dull, and lazy writing. - Creating something melodramatic to the point of parody. REALLY stressing how much they love each other, how perfect of a cat-owner relationship the two have, and then killing one of them. Cliché, dull, lazy. This series does the opposite. The two cannot understand each other on a verbal level, but they have been around each other enough that they both provide comfort. We of course are watching the girl through the cat's eye, but we do not always need to trust the cat's observations, because in the background of all this, the director wonderfully creates a thoroughly believable -- if pitiable -- character in the owner. That being said, let me jump into the grading bits. Story: 7 out of 10. I'm always a sucker for a series that takes a simple premise and does it well. You truly do not need to reinvent the wheel of smash all previous conventions with every piece of art. Sometimes, even doing a simple, unoriginal thing can be a work of art if done earnestly, thoughtfully, and tastefully. There is not much to this story that I have not already written about. A girl and her cat and how life can change, but how we may learn to grow from those changes. It's beautiful, honest, and simple. Animation: 8 out of 10. The art work in this series won't blow you away, but it does not need to do so. Again, we're talking about a story that is meant to be believable in a way that anime usually does not care to dabble in (arguments of a talking cat aside. The cat is never shown actually talking, so we are just given the thought processes of a cat, which will still work here, given creative liberties). I never found myself weeping and aching from artwork so hyper-realistic or stylish that it changed the way I thought about the medium, but it effectively helped to move the story along, matching the pacing of the writing perfectly. Sound: 8 out of 10. Similar to animation above. The voiceacting, music, and background noises are all thoroughly effective, never running into tedious, cheesy, or cliché waters. Characters: 10 out of 10. Although I have previously given everything a 7-8 rating for being effective and simple, I could not help myself in raising the grading of “characters” up to a 10. I think that is because in a story so simple as I have mentioned this one being, the only possible way everything could work is if all the characters are strong enough to stand on their own two feet. This task is made all the more difficult when you consider a series like this one that is so short. Given such a small amount of time, we learn so damn much about the characters, and the show does it in a way that feels organic. We are never given in clunky exposition how the girl fights with her mother. In the flashback scenes, we never hear the girl tell the cat “you have to go because mommy doesn’t communicate with me effectively.” The dialogue is never handled poorly, and the writer/s clearly believe in that age-old mantra “show, don’t tell”. Overall: 8 out of 10. At the end of the day, this show will not redefine the genre, nor will it change the way I personally watch anime. I likely won’t even watch it again, necessarily, because I do not need to. There wasn’t any overtly imprinted message in the series that I “needed” to take with me, nor are there mysteries left to unlock with further watches. As I have stated ad naseum, this is a simple series that effectively utilizes every piece at its disposal to deliver a polished, beautiful product. Even the “big twist” at the end that this reviewer won’t spoil wasn’t enough for me to cry “cliché!” because it was handled well. My usual complaint with short series such as this is that I would much rather watch the series filled with more time and content (wonderful anime such as Senryuu Girl would make me so happy to watch in a full time format) or that a director does not utilize the time well enough to create something enjoyable, often making a rushed, chaotic product (Insert most short-episode anime). She and Her Cat: Everything Flows is a perfect title for this short episode medium. It has just enough story to tell us in a few couple-minute episodes, and does not overstay its welcome. All in all, I am thoroughly impressed with this series, and given it’s short run time, recommend everyone invest a little time into this gem.
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