A delightful little manga about the life a single, 20-something Japanese woman as seen through the eyes of her cat.
At first I thought this was a manga original, but after doing some digging apparently the first version of this story was a 5 minute short film Makoto Shinkai made back back in 1999 before he'd hit it big as a director. Now with a few movies under his belt (perhaps you've heard of them, he made this little film called 'Your Name' which seemed to get some attention last year) Makoto Shinkai is revisiting his roots with a four chapter manga adaptation.
If I was being
cynical I'd say the reason this manga adapation got an English print release by Vertical Comics despite previous versions of this story going largely under the Western anime radar was because after 'Your Name' made $350,000,000 and Makoto Shinkai officially became frontrunner for the title of 'The Next Miyazaki' (before Miyazaki came back out of retirement again) they figured name recognition alone would move copies regardless of quality. Makoto Shinkai being Makoto Shinkai, however, this short story has plenty of quality. It's not long by any means, but She And Her Cat manages to really capture the feel of the confusion and anxiety of early adulthood, when a lot of life is in flux, you're making big decisions with limited experience and information, and there's the constant pressure to 'figure things out'. It's short, sweet, and doesn't overstay its welcome.
The art is quite lovely. When colors are used, artist Tsubasa Yamaguchi went for a blue pallet that gives the images a soft but vaguely melancholy feeling. Most of the backgrounds consist of various shots of the apartment of Miyu (She) and Chobi (Her Cat, and the point-of-view character), since Chobi rarely leaves home. Telling the story from the cat's perspective is a clever little storytelling trick as it both provides information (we the audience have an 'excuse' to be inside Miyu's home where she let's her guard down and shows her true emotions) and witholds information (Chobi obviously can't read Miyu's mind, so we the audience have to piece together what's going on with limited clues). Miyu is drawn quite well, giving off a wide variety of expressions that are crucial to developing her character.
For some reason I always imagine Chobi as having a French accent. If I had to guess it would be because he reminds of the titular character of the French animated film The Rabbi's Cat with the way he talks about his female owner as if she were his lover or mistress (although he's not quite as snarky as his French counterpart). Anyway, getting back on track, while Chobi is a straightforward character with little progression over the course of the story, he's critical as almost all of what we see is what he sees, and he's the only character whose mind we can get inside. Miyu is quite well done as she shows rather than tells what's going on in her life. There are only two other characters with a name and face- a college friend of Miyu's and a kitten named Mimi who Chobi quite openly admits he's only involved with for the physical benefits as all his affection and devotion are for Miyu. Well, at least he's honest. The characters are developed quite well for a short 4 chapter manga.
This is an enjoyable short read that shows once again Makoto Shinkai's excellence in emotional storytelling.