OP: 「OP」 by TO-MAS SOUNDSIGHT FLUORESCENT FOREST
“She and Her Apartment”
An Interesting History:
Shinkai Makoto’s famed short about a job hunting girl and her loving black cat gets a picturesque remake, and it’s just as depressing as I remember. This little gem has an interesting history that had a lot of people (myself included) excited about what was on offer here. If you’re an anime fan, you’ve likely heard of the director, Shinkai Makoto (5 Centimeters Per Second, Hoshi o Ou Kodomo, Kotonoha no Niwa). If you haven’t, then I’d highly recommend checking out everything he’s worked on; his name is synonymous with gorgeous visuals and melancholic stories. But 14 years ago, when he wasn’t as famous and beloved as he is now, he put out a five-minute long depressing black and white short about a girl and her cat, and despite it’s simplicity and tiny length, it has accumulated much acclaim over the years.
Fast forward to present day, and we’ve got this modern remake, which is clearly the more visually appealing – not only for an anime nowadays, but especially for a short. If you felt you were watching a Kyoto Animation production (despite this being produced by LIDEN FILMS), then you wouldn’t be mistaken, as this is produced by an ex-KyoAni member, Sakamoto Kazuya, who worked on titles such as Kanon, K-ON!, and Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!. That particular flair can be felt throughout this episode, from the detailed closeups to the smart use of blurs and composition. It’s an identifiable style, and a good example of what KyoAni could produce if they dealt with more adult material more often.
The Failings and Hardships of a Job Hunting Graduate:
I was but a youngster who did not know the bitterness of the world when I first watched the original short. Now, several years on, this hit home harder than I could have anticipated. The story is simple, but excruciatingly relevant to me (and likely many others). It’s about a nameless girl referred to as ‘She‘ (Hanazawa Kana), who lives alone with her black cat, Daru (Asanuma Shintaro) after her flatmate has to move away. With her almost graduating, she’s beginning her job hunting to try to find something to pay her bills and keep things steady. It sounds monotonous and potentially boring, but as it’s told through the point of view of the cat, it provides an outsider’s perspective on what our main character is struggling through.
There were plenty of moments that stuck a cord with me, like seeing her practicing in front of the mirror, repeating lines for her job interview that sound totally unnatural. She then receives a phone call from her mother who gives her grief and insists she return home. But the moment that affected me most was when she returned after a long day of failed interviews only to kick off her shoes and collapse onto the side her bed. From the point of view of her cat, he’d been waiting all day and is thrilled to see her, providing what little comfort he can in her time of helplessness. It was a short scene, but seeing her slumping over in defeat, reading messages of encouragement that only made her feel worse… it hit me hard. I can totally relate to everything this girl is thinking – right down to the ‘I’m already doing my best” – and so I’m hoping that this short will provide more closure than the original, and perhaps more hope for people who find themselves in a similar situation.
Overview – What’s Next?:
I expected this to be good after I read over the staff list, but this packed an emotional punch that I wasn’t quite expecting. I put that down to me watching the original when I was too young to understand what the main character was going through, and now that I can relate… it hurts more than I’d like to admit. But there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, and even when things aren’t going well it’s hard not to love that little cat. With three episodes left, I can’t wait to see what’s to come. Hopefully it won’t get more depressing than this, but part of me suspects it will.
ED: 「ED」by Clammbon