This week I’m turning my attention to the human half of the fabulous duo that made up the very sweet My Roommate is a Cat, Subaru. Admittedly, individually, and particularly at the start of the season, Subaru’s personality is a little bit abrasive and hard to take. I still found him interesting to watch but didn’t necessarily like him. However, the fantastic, emotional journey he goes on throughout the series and the growth he makes as a person just made him really shine by the end of the series and I think he is a character well worth spending some more time on.
There will be some spoilers for the series.
If you only watched the first episode or two of My Roommate is a Cat, your impression of Subaru, other than the fact that we have yet another anime protagonist starting a show with the funeral of his parents, is that he’s a bit rude and abrupt. I kind of understood why though because in the cases where he was being rude to his editor, the editor had taken him out of his comfort zone seemingly for no reason. If you know someone doesn’t like going to cafes and the like and there’s no reason to meet them there, then why drag them out. Still, Subaru doesn’t make the best first impression on the audience.
However, in these first episodes, Subaru comes across Haru, who despite being a cat very much deserves her own character post, and Subaru, seemingly on a whim, takes her home with the intention of using a cat as a muse for a new character in a story he is writing. it’s an on the spot decision made without a lot of forethought and it becomes obvious fairly quickly that Subaru doesn’t have a clue how to deal with the new addition to his household.
Over the course of the series, we see that Haru’s presence in Subaru’s life begins to help him reconnect with others and makes him remember his parents and the many lost opportunities to connect with them. While this show doesn’t have a dramatic change of character, Subaru begins to subtly grow, seeking out small interactions with people building up until he agrees to a book signing.
That doesn’t mean he’s actually good at interacting with others. He’s still awkward, gets flustered, at times wants to run away, but he’s more and more committed to trying to deal with those in his life. He also begins to appreciate what each of the others brings into his life and tries to show that he appreciates it.
However, the final push comes at the end of the series where he goes on the last holiday his parents planned. While this is an emotional enough development given the course of the story, what really shows the change in Subaru is his reaction when he realises he can’t get home to Haru as planned. Then, Haru manages to get out of the house and Subaru needs to search for her.
From a character who blatantly refused to leave the house and if forced outside was cold and cut-off, to one who actively searched for another and called on those he’d made connections with to help, Subaru’s character grew in leaps and bounds and while his basic personality hadn’t changed at all, something shown through the clever use of flash backs, his ability to deal with others and his acceptance of them had developed tremendously.
Ultimately, I really enjoyed watching Subaru grow as a character and found his story delightful.
Winter 2019 has had its ups and downs throughout but regardless of my final thoughts, I had a lot of fun this season. There was always something to look forward to and as some shows faltered, others rallied. While I know some shows are ongoing and some have not yet aired final episodes (and in the case of Boogiepop wa Warawanai I’m just hopelessly behind), this is my final standings for the Winter season.
In the listing I’ve commented on where the series was at the mid-season point in the list and whether it has moved or not but if you want to see my mid-season thoughts they are here.
Hopefully you enjoy and remember the results of the reader’s poll will come out later today.
Previously placed at position 13. It didn’t even deliver the little that was expected.
I was vaguely hopeful that this one would improve, but realistically I’m struggling just to convince myself to finish watching it. It has continued to be a meandering mess and while some have enjoyed the mystery I’ve mostly just found it frustrating.
Not aided by ugly visuals and characters that are pretty bland, there’s very little compelling me to keep going with this but I will finish it at this point. I kind of feel I past the point of no return a while a go. Still, if I wanted to pick the series on my watch list that I most regret watching, Boogiepop would be it.
Images from: Boogipop wa Warawanai (2019). Dir. S Natsume. Madhouse. 2019.
Number 14: Grimms Notes
Previously placed at position 15, Grimms Notes continued to underwhelm.
While it would be nice to say that it managed to pull its narrative and characters together, mostly I just felt this one oozed wasted potential until the very end. Not that there weren’t some fun moments along the way, but it just never felt satisfying to watch.
It isn’t all bad news with some of the character moments being cute enough and having a simple ‘save the story zone’ plot each week. Even if the main story line felt hopelessly underdeveloped and the themes unexplored, it wasn’t as if this ever became unwatchable.
Images from: Grimms Notes. Dir. S Shizutaka. Brain’s Base. 2019.
Number 13: Sword Art Online Alicization
Previously at position 10, how this has fallen.
I was disappointed when Sword Art Online Alicization was only managing position 10, and yet honestly I can’t say this has gotten any better. If anything, the faults with the pacing, character motives, exposition, and just idiocy have gotten worse to the point where I’m honestly wondering whether to keep going with episode reviews when it continues or whether to just let this one go and review it once they finally finish it.
An increasingly frustrating and underwhelming watch full of babble about things that barely make sense even in the context of the story, and characters who essentially break the rules of the world at will, it all just became fairly tiresome to watch this season.
Images from: Sword Art Online Alicization. Dir. M Ono. A-1 Pictures. 2018.
Number 12: Kaguya-Sama Love is War
Previously and still position 12.
For a comedy anime it wasn’t bad. It isn’t really my style and to be honest outside of the occasional moment where the characters really clicked there were a lot of times where watching this was just kind of empty. Still, the visuals, animation and sound design of this one were pretty fantastic so I can’t fault the production in the slightest.
However, ultimately, if I’d stopped watching this one it wouldn’t have mattered. There was no compelling reason to keep going and while I can see why it appeals to some, it really isn’t speaking much to me.
Images from: Kaguya Sama: Love Is War. Dir. S Omata. A-1 Pictures. 2019.
Number 11: Endro
Previously placed at position 14, this one actually was kind of charming fun.
Despite the pastel colour scheme and cute girl antics, I actually did find this one entertaining from week to week. There were some moments that really just shone for both the story and the characters proving you really can take something fairly standard and make it shine if you put enough love and effort into it.
Honestly, this isn’t going to be something I watch again but if you like cute girl stories or just want a fun slice of life/comedy that has an adventurers setting thrown in, this is actually really cute and entertaining. The only reason it didn’t get higher up my list is because I’m just not that into cute girls and some of the friendship sequences made me roll my eyes hard.
Images from: Endro! Dir. Kaori. Studio Gokumi. 2019.
Number 10: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
Previously position 7 there’s just no denying the second cour was ordinary.
After slowly warming up to the show in the first cour, the second cour that aired during Winter 2019 of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime was overwhelmingly average. Now source readers will pull out the ‘it gets better’ cards as well as explain that some bits were skipped over, but none of that changes the fact that the anime is most definitely average.
There were some cute moments and character encounters and a few fairly awesome moments in the occasional fight, but a lot of this second cour was sitting around talking, or introducing characters we were never given a reason to care about who effectively had their problems solved with minimum effort. It remained light and fun to watch but had absolutely nothing to hook the audience or to convince me this would ever be worth watching a second time.
Images from: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. Dir. Y Kikuchi. 8Bit. 2018.
Number 9: The Price of Smiles
Formally position 5. Okay, I was being optimistic.
It is almost scary how on the nose my prediction for this series was at the half-way point. I suspected we had a show that would simply kill off its characters towards the end and in the lead up to the final episode we had one prominent character death an episode all to serve the ‘war is bad’ slogan this anime seemed to want to plaster onto almost every episode. That doesn’t mean it was terrible. There was actually a lot of promise along the way. It just never quite delivered.
Still, there have certainly been worse mecha anime over the years and while the ending was foolishly optimistic and naive, much like the main character, I can’t say I’m upset with it. While The Price of Smiles never managed to break into being something truly good, it certainly skated along the edges of it and kept me hopeful throughout.
Images from: Egao no Daika. Dir. T Suzuki. Tatsunoko Production. 2019.
Number 8: Domestic Girlfriend
Previously in 6th position.
Right, so you get what you expect when you keep watching a melodrama and as the story progresses they have to push to increasingly forced and silly methods to up the ante. That said, there is a certain delight in watching this train wreck unfold and while I wouldn’t say I actually like any of the characters, I kind of am curious about where they will ultimately end up.
This one somehow manages to be trashy without actually being trash and while it isn’t great it is also something that is hard to stop watching. While the occasional scene pushes the sexual content a little further than I’d like and the basic premise and the idea of teachers and students dating isn’t something I’m thrilled about, I can’t say that this is actually a bad watch. Not really one I’d jump to recommend but one that I’d honestly have to admit I’ve been enjoying despite the many complaints I might muster about it.
Images from: Domestic Girlfriend. Dir. S Ibata. Diomedea. 2019.
Number 7: The Rising of the Shield Hero
Previously in position 4.
I’m honestly pleasantly surprised that this one has remained as entertaining as it has. With Sword Art and Slime both plummeting in the ranks during the Winter season it seemed isekai fantasy was taking a serious downward turn. While there are plenty of points against Shield Hero in terms of pacing and at times characterisation, I’ve mostly had fun watching it and continue to look forward to how it rolls out this story.
While this one might also take a downward turn as it moves into a second cour, I’m kind of hopeful of this one just keeping things moving. And while the fights remain fresh, the story doesn’t linger for too long on any one part, and Naofumi continues to be an interesting character to watch, I’ll probably keep enjoying this even though I would hardly call it great.
I kind of knew this one probably wouldn’t hold in the top 5 for the season but I was hopeful. A dark magical girl story that actually seemed willing to deal with the trauma a teenage girl would face if forced to fight to save the world and watch companions die? It is a good idea and at least provides some kind of grounding for the violence rather than just being opening gratuitous in killing off young characters grotesquely.
However, the execution both from thematically and in the delivery of the narrative have been somewhat lacking and once again we’re left with a show that is more concept than delivery. The over the top torture segments also don’t help to ground this as anything more than something trying to be sensationalist when actually there’s a reasonable attempt at exploring trauma and PTSD buried here but alas the show can’t give it the time or weight it needs between the other ideas it wants to cram in an a desire to imperil Asuka’s classmates. I didn’t mind this but I kept wanting more from it and by the final few episodes it was clear that it wasn’t going to deliver.
Images from: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka. Dir. H Yamamoto. LIDENFILMS. 2019.
Number 5: Meiji Tokyo Renka
Formally in position 10 – nice climb.
While this one reeks of mediocrity in visuals and almost everything else, this is the anime I’ve gone back to again and again just to feel good and kick back and relax. There’s something incredibly fun and infectious about Mei as a character and the cast of guys surrounding her aren’t too shabby. The supernatural elements work well but it is Mei’s ongoing relationship with Ougai that really grabs your attention.
While I won’t say this improved as it went, it maintained its standard throughout and the characters are naturally charming enough to slowly make you warm to them and each episode feels just that little bit more fun than the last. Not one to be proclaimed a master-piece but for those who don’t mind the occasional reverse harem romp this one is certainly a fun time waster to fit into your viewing schedule.
Images from: Meiji Tokyo Renka. Dir. A Daichi. TMS Entertainment. 2019.
Number 4: The Morose Mononokean
Previously number 8 on the list – this one exceeded expectations.
Season two of The Morose Mononokean continued to far outstrip season one and advanced the plot and character development in a way I’d been wishing the first season to but it just never got to. There is very little to complain about with this second season with almost everything being better than season one and the balance between yokai of the week episode and episodes developing the world and characters being pretty well thought out.
With cute yokai characters, conspiracies, blossoming powers and generally more supernatural fun, The Morose Mononokean ended up being one show I began to look forward to each weekend. The chats with Irina around the episodes were also a factor as watching a show is always better with friends, but honestly this one was a delight this Winter season.
Previously number 9 on the list (that’s quite the rise).
If I was asked whether this got better as the season went on and whether that accounts for its rise, the answer would be a clear no. This isn’t a story that gets better. There’s a solid character journey for Subaru and one that I greatly appreciated which certainly accounts for a lot of its rise through the ranks, but what My Roommate is a Cat does brilliantly is deliver a fairly consistent performance. Tie in consistently meeting expectations week after week with concluding a character arc in a fairly coherent manner and My Roommate is a Cat might be decidedly average in a lot of ways but it was one that I found a very satisfying watch in the end.
This anime definitely demonstrates the power of simplicity in that it has a very simple gimmick with the cat narrating part of the episode from its perspective but otherwise the character count is low, the scenarios very low key, and things tie in together way too neatly for real life but in a way that makes for a fairly entertaining weekly watch. Not to mention, there’s a cat in it and apparently having a cat in it is something that makes a story recommendable.
Images from: My Roommate is a Cat. Dir. K Suzuki. Zero-G. 2019.
Number 2: The Promised Neverland
Remaining in second place.
I feel a bit bad for The Promised Neverland. Given the genre and style of story in almost any other season this one would have been a sure number one for me. Yet, opposite Run With the Wind that mostly didn’t rely on cliff-hangers to maintain viewer interest or suspense, I just can’t say that the gimmick filled Neverland is better even if I’m certainly enjoying it a lot.
The mark of a great story where I want to know what happens, where it keeps me guessing and theorising, and when the reveal is made it may not be what I thought but everything kind of clicks into place as all the anomalies and hints suddenly make sense even while a new mystery rises to be solved. The cast are charming, the setting thrilling, and all and all this one has been a delight to watch this season.
Images from: The Promised Neverland. Dir. M Kanbe. CloverWorks. 2019.
Number 1: Run With The Wind
Maintaining first position.
While I never expected to like Run With The Wind that much, even with a fairly strong showing from The Promised Neverland, there just isn’t any reason to not make this my number one of the season. I’ve fallen in love with the team and through the final episodes I cried, I cheered, I cried some more and then I smiled through those tears in absolute delight. It really helps that every character had a moment to shine in those final episodes and each character journey felt like it was given time to draw to a conclusion. It was a lovely viewing experience and one I’m really glad I picked up.
Whether it was Shindo’s absolutely heroic actions during his leg of the race, the general camaraderie and support each member showed for the others, or the feat they accomplished together, there were just so many moments to celebrate. This anime is gorgeous, well put together and has just the perfect number of episodes to tell its story. For all that I do have some minor complaints, they are just that, minor. This is definitely my pick for must watch of the season.
This time next week and I should have landed in Japan (all going well). I’ve got a crazy week ahead of me but hopefully blog posts will keep coming out and I’m looking forward to sharing my journey around Tokyo with you all (either while I’m there or once I’m back depending on internet). As a result, the weekly round up of blog posts will be postponed until the end of April and then it will resume again (I may do an overall April ‘In Case You Missed It’ post once I get back before going back to weekly.
In the meantime, here are some great posts from the community last week and as always feel free to give a shout out to a post that you feel deserves some more attention in the comments below. Also, feel free to DM me any links during the week via Twitter as I’m always happy to read good content.
Posts from the Community
Lita Kino gives us a great list of mecha pilots, without any Gundam mentions. Yes, her five favourite mecha pilots that do not come from a Gundam series, and there are some fantastic picks on the list. If you want to celebrate some of the non-Gundam mech stories out there, and the characters who pilot those machines, this is a fantastic post to read.
Dirk O’Brien from Weeb the People examines episode 1 of March Comes in Like a Lion (3-Gatsu no Lion) and how tone is established through symbolism and character. Now I would have enjoyed reading this anyway given it is about an anime that really hit me hard, but this is a really nicely thought out post about the episode and is definitely one I recommend reading to anyone who has watched the anime, or anyone who is considering it and might need a bit of a push to see why they should definitely check it out.
I absolutely had to include Irina’s great post on Reiko from Natsume Yuujinchou this week as part of the OWL’s March tour. She’s a great character and Irina did a great job discussing the theme of femininity through Reiko. I look forward to Irina’s next Natsume focused OWL’s post.
Arthifis followed a post by the lovely Irina on SEO and gave some more advice to bloggers about what it is and what they can do on their blog. It is always great to see bloggers trying to help other bloggers out and sharing their thoughts and processes. I found this a fun read and it made me reflect on a few things so I’m really glad I came across it.
Marth reviews My Roommate is a Cat so if you want to check out someone’s full thoughts on it and whether or not it is worth checking out, this post is a quick and fun read. I really feel My Roommate is a Cat flew too consistently under the radar during the Winter 2019 season despite being fairly consistent and relatively entertaining. It also managed a reasonably decent emotional character story by the end so all and all, I’d recommend checking out Marth’s post and then go watch the anime.
Never Argue With A Fish has a wonderful review on Digimon Tamers to read that really sells the series strengths while mentioning some minor points that might be of concern. Still, for those who are inclined to check out the anime, this is a lovely review to read that will probably get you hyped for it.
Scott from Mechanical Anime Reviews covers Full Metal Panic The Second Raid. Definitely worth checking out this review and if you haven’t watched Full Metal Panic, please do and be sure to keep going on to Second Raid as it is well worth the time.
Lynn Sheridan shares their thoughts on Episode 12 of The Promised Neverland. Totally spoiler filled given it is a final episode review but if you’ve been enjoying the anime it is a nice summation of the final episode and what has happened and how we got there. Worth checking out.
Pick of the Week
Over on Phoenix Talks Pop Culture Japan there was an interesting post about Cheer Boys (Cheer Danshi) that explains a bit of the back story behind it and shares their personal connection with the school that the story was based on. It’s a different sort of look at the anime/manga and one that was very pleasant reading. I really enjoyed this post last week and it is one well worth checking out.
The wild storm rages and Subaru is forced to take the train back home. Meanwhile he calls his friend to go and check on Haru. Alas, Haru escapes the house in a desperate attempt to find the strangely missing Subaru and so the search for Haru begins.
It is such a fitting final episode really to My Roommate is a Cat. With Subaru visiting the grave where the story began and he met Haru in the first place during his search, there’s a sense we’ve come full circle and yet we can also see how far Subaru has come as a character in the time we’ve spent with them. We also bring all the minor characters in on the search.
My favourite point was when Subaru was being rescued from the puddle and much like the child-Subaru was more concerned with saving his book from the water, adult-Subaru ensures Haru is lifted clear first. It is a touching and adorable moment made only cuter by the quiet moments once the two characters return to the house.
I very much look forward to writing a full review of this one and Subaru and Haru are adorable as roommates and hopefully one day they’ll continue to have adventures together but if not this is certainly a nice place to leave the two.
As cute as Haru is in this series, for me it becomes more compelling when the episode focuses on Subaru, and very much more interesting when it examines Subaru’s emotions in dealing with his parents’ passing. The series begins with the funeral but then seems to just skip ahead and other than establishing that Subaru was on his own, it doesn’t seem significant, but as the series has continues on it has been surprising in that the dead parent trope is more than just an establishing point. This anime seems like it actually wants to look at the process of someone coming to terms with their relationship with their parents and deal with their loss.
Admittedly, it is still very slice of life and doesn’t seem to want to become too much of a downer, so it isn’t exactly diving head-first into dealing with grief. But in its own quiet way it is having Subaru confront the reality of his parents’ love for him, that he wasn’t able to respond to at the time, and realising that it is all just a little bit too late to change that.
As a result, this episode, while it took awhile to get going, was kind of the great penultimate episode. We got to see Ookami’s brother again and he apologised unnecessarily for how he treated Subaru when they first met which kind of brought that sub-plot to a close. We had Subaru trying to get Haru into a cat carrier and failing which was the only real interaction these two had this episode and was our daily dose of adorable. We also had Subaru relying on his childhood friend to feed Haru while he was away.
Because yes, Subaru is taking his editor’s advice and going on a trip to help him think of an idea for his new novel. Almost on impulse, though spurred on by his realisation of what his mother had done with the garden, Subaru has decided to take the last trip his parents had planned to take but didn’t get to complete. This brings on a lot of reflection for Subaru as well as some happy moments and overall it is just a great part of the episode for seeing how far he has come as a character since he adopted Haru.
Then of course we get the ending where a storm rolls in and his plane is cancelled and Haru’s home alone. It is about as dramatic an ending as something this low key could get without totally shifting the tone and it works well enough as a build up to the final episode.
For those only watching for Haru, this episode offers little. Haru is in the episode but her moments are very much diminished as the focus is very much on Subaru. I really liked it but I can imagine those waiting for cute Haru moments might find the episode a little bit dry.
There’s not much to say about this episode of My Roommate is a Cat. Subaru is exhausted after pulling all nighters to finish writing but Hiroto’s sister and her friend come to play. In the process they teach Subaru how to cook a meal for Haru and the remainder of the episode is Subaru first trying to buy the ingredients for the meal and then prepare it before we flip to Haru’s point of view.
If you are watching this because you enjoy Subaru’s awkward nature and the play between cat and human, this episode will be great fun. The payoff when the two eat together at the end is well worth it. However, there’s little else to this episode that would really stand out.
I do find Haru’s perspective is starting to wear a little thin with her constant worrying about Subaru not eating. Admittedly, it is a legitimate concern but it is starting to become a bit repetitive. There was very little added through seeing Haru’s perspective this week and the end of the episode felt a bit weak because of it.
Still, seeing Subaru stumped at the grocery store and Hiroto coming to his rescue was amusing enough and the final scene of cat and human, fed and happy, is certainly heart warming enough. This series remains cute enough and entertaining for those who relate to owning a cat (or being owned by a cat) but episodes like this one show the decidedly one note nature of the series.
It has been another full on week in the real world though I was fortunately able to catch up a bit on anime and posting. There’s still a few shows I’m behind on and a couple of days when only two posts went out. I think I should be able to get the blog back up to full speed by the end of next week and back to consistent three posts a day, though we’ll see how the next week goes and whether I get thrown any more exciting twists and turns.
In the meantime, I have found some great posts from around the ani-blogging community to share this week with a lot of different topics covered. Be sure to check out some of the posts below if you missed them and as always, feel free to let me know if you come across a post you think deserves a shout out.
Posts from the Community
Cactus Matt is back counting down top 10 OP’s of the season and this list is covers a nice range of some of the better openings from the season (with embedded videos if you don’t know them or just want to listen to some of the great songs). I love lists, I love great OP’s and this one was just a fun post to read so be sure to check it out and share your favourite OP’s in the comments.
A Nerdy Perspective gives us a review of Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-San. This one had a few people chatting about it when it was airing and since has gone strangely quiet but if it was one you didn’t watch while it was airing it might be a good weekend entertainment for you. Check out the review and see what you think.
Arthifis continues to look at each show that premiered this season and give an impression post based on three episodes (great for figuring out which anime you should go back and give a go if you are looking for something new to watch). This post covers The Magnificent Kotobuki which is a post I was waiting for because I’ve been curious about this one and hadn’t tried it myself. I’m not sure if I was convinced to give it a go or not, but I did enjoy seeing Arthifis’ initial impressions on it.
Atelier Emily has a really great break down of episode 8 of The Promised Neverland and how visuals played into the narrative shift that was taking place. Heavy spoiler warning for those not up to that part of the anime and haven’t read the source, but it is a great post and one well worth reading to those who did watch the episode.
Lita Kino has a fantastic post about Lacus and how her character really came into her own in Destiny. I quite enjoy Lacus as a character and I really enjoyed reading Lita’s perspective on her and why Lita liked her. A fun post to read for those who enjoyed Gundam Seed.
Irina continues to produce consistently interesting content and this week I fell in love with her post on colour coding in ACCA where she looks at the main characters and what their hair colour tells us about them. Apparently a lot more than I was paying attention to. It is a really great post and well worth the read, particularly if you enjoyed ACCA or even if you just like learning a bit more about colours and their meanings.
Yuri Reviews covers Scorching Ping Pong Girls. Now I haven’t seen the anime and it doesn’t sound like my kind of thing, but this was a nicely written review that seemed to cover some of the positives and issues with the series and generally provided a good overview without giving away too much. If you are interested in the anime it would be well worth reading.
Reasons to Anime shares 5 Reasons To Skip Phi Brain. I was actually a little sad to read this because this anime had been on my watch list for a while and it was one I was secretly kind of waiting for a good moment to sit down and binge watch thinking I’d probably quite enjoy it. I still might, but given some of the reasons given here to skip it, I’m not holding out quite as much hope anymore.
Otome Kitten has a great review of Code Realize: Wintertide Miracles. If you are curious about the game this is a nicely detailed review that is easy to read and has some great visuals to support it. I definitely recommend giving it a read if you’ve been thinking about this game.
Pick of the Week
David from Another Anime Review covers episode 6-9 of My Roommate is a Cat. I’m really quite enjoying that anime and while it isn’t flawless by any means, it has been a fairly quiet and entertaining show this season and one that I’d love to see get a little more attention. Anyway, if you are curious as to how it is proceeding this is a great post to check out.