OP Sequence

OP: 「OP」 by TO-MAS SOUNDSIGHT FLUORESCENT FOREST

“She and Her Apartment”


「彼女と彼女の部屋」 (Kanojo to Kanojo no Heya)

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 Sequence

ED: 「ED」by Clammbon

20 Comments

  1. For a second I thought that said Kanojo x Kano… yeah. Thank you for making an entry on this. I didn’t know it was out. I’m a big fan of the directors previous work.

    Setting RC as my homepage pays off! Woo!

    Shirt
  2. I have also been looking forward to this show because of Makoto Shinkai and I love his film Hoshi O Ou Kodomo. It’s quite refreshing to have a furry main character, though I probably prefer it without a voice.

    WarriorsHeart
  3. “She and Her Cat” was a spark of utter brilliance on Shinkai’s part. I remember it as being a part of the “Voices From A Distant Star” DVD. Both shorts touched me in multiple ways I never thought media could. The pacing, the voice-acting, the lighting, editing, cinematography… everything was perfect to a T. It was a profound experience. Not to mention that Shinkai practically wrote, directed, and animated the whole thing by himself in Flash on a PowerBook G4.

    But this…? There was nothing here that captured the essence of the original. While the original was beautifully melancholic, everything here was melodramatic. The original cat Chobi was very childlike with innocent naivete, although he did claim that he was “in love” with her. His whole conversation with the neighbor cat Mimi was hilarious, and the dialogue clearly presents his simplistic views on what attachment and love were. The female owner was the plot device and foil character that drove the development of Chobi and his thoughts. Her face was never shown because it was never about her.

    Indigo
    1. Agreed. I also felt it lost a lot of the original’s magic which was seeing the world from the cat’s perspective. This remake not only looks like an ordinary, run-of-the-mill slice-of-life but also feels like one…

      Yukie
    2. After having watched both this and the original out of curiosity… Is it just me or is the original absurdly fast? The dialog and scene transitions sped by briskly, in a jarring way. Then it was over. Kinda disappointing in that respect. Otherwise I thought it was quite good. This current iteration, on the other hand, was beautifully slow and melancholy. Though it had almost none of the original director in it. The art, the tone, and random moe chick #3 gave the whole thing an almost generic quality. The seiyuu for the cat was spectacular, and did well to bring the feel of the original out in this remake.

      Also wtf no foot shots. I couldn’t even tell he had a hand in this. Female feet and close ups of female feet have been in every animation of his I have seen. Really dropped the ball on that one. Feet seem to be very important to him, and it seems odd to recreate something of his without them being featured.

      Beorn4200
    3. @Indigo
      There are certainly some differences between the two, but it always seemed obvious to me that this remake was going to approach things differently. I’d have to be honest and say I prefer it this way, but I can see why the simplicity of the original short would resonate more with others. This is going to be roughly 28 minutes by the time it’s over, which is way more than the 2002 version, so they need to make some sort of story out of it.

      @Beorn4200
      I wouldn’t say ‘She’ is moe in the slightest, but definitions of that word usually vary depending on whatever point someone is trying to make. Very few “moe” anime girls get depressed and upset like we see here. This is way more bleak than your typical SOL show would deal with such things.

      Samu
  4. !!!!!!!!!!! I absolutely love 5 Centimeters per Second and Voices from a Distant Star, and recently bought a translated novel of She and Her Cat. I cannot tell you how excited I am right now to know the remake of this short is out!!! Thanks Samu!!! Thank you!!!!!!

    xClueless
  5. Having just watched the original, it is easy to understand why it’s so appealing compared to this latest remake. The charm in the original really shone on its own, and I loved it. Chobi in the original is very memorable, both in form and in voice 🙂

    However, as Samu has said, the new remake takes a very different approach to the original. Turning a 5 minute short into an almost 30 minute short warrants a lot more story to be told and the pacing to be much slower. Kudos to the VA of Daru for the great narrating! I shall wait for the next few episodes before I pass my judgement on the remake, but based on this episode alone, whilst the art here is warm and beautiful and more like your typical anime, I do prefer the original’s simplistic outlines and the fact that it was in black and white.

    xClueless

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