I am a cat person. By this, I do not mean that I have the power to magically transform into a cat at will, because that would just be weird. What I mean is that I quite like cats. They’re cute, and I tend to have a fondness for works that feature them, such as the one I’m reviewing right now.
About a day or two ago, I found out about the director Makoto Shinkai. After looking at some of his artwork (and briefly confusing him with another film-maker), I decided to watch something of his as soon as I could. Luckily, his first film, She and Her Cat, is less than five minutes long, which suits my attention span well. (I’m anxious to watch some of his lengthier creations, such as 5 Centimeters per Second and The Garden of Words, but now that I’m back in college it may take some time before I’m able to do so.) She and Her Cat is a simple, sweet anime about a young woman, told from the perspective of her pet cat, who is infatuated with her. His love for her is fairly innocent, and his view of the world is pretty naive, though this is something he’s mostly unaware of. He is a well-meaning creature, though, and gently narrates to us their first year together.
While it does at some points look a little amateurish, She and Her Cat is a beautiful film, and any rough moments can be excused given that it’s Shinkai’s first release. On the whole, it’s gorgeous, with a muted aesthetic. Both the cat and his owner speak gently, and everything is coloured in soft shades of black, white and grey. I’ve mentioned before how I love stories that capture the strangeness of ordinary people doing ordinary things, and this film does so very well. The camera often lingers over mundane things, like the rooms and objects in the woman’s apartment, and makes them special and beautiful. (There is an achingly lovely depiction of a train ride through the city near the end.) I love the cat’s descriptions of how her apartment smells, and of how pretty she is just going about her everyday life; from any other perspective, that would be incredibly creepy, but here it works so well. In the final part of the film, it is winter, and the cat explains how his owner now starts each day in darkness, in a similar way to how the Earth spin through the dark. Just hearing that makes me envious of both of them.
Being so short, She and Her Cat is definitely worth watching, and its brevity works for the most part in its favour. However, I think it might have worked better if it had been a little longer- perhaps fifteen, or even twenty minutes could have worked. I don ‘t mean that Shinkai should have added more plot or dialogue or anything; I just think that the sparseness of the two would have been more effective if they’d had more time to sink in, and more room so as to come across as less rushed. Still, it’s a lovely film as it is.