They pay their rent in a different way.
What They Say:
Sharing his home is the last thing an eccentric author like Mikazuki would do until a stray cat sparks an idea for his next novel. When he invites the little furball into his life, tons of trouble come with it! Perhaps this new friend is the catalyst that Mikazuki needed. And, for the streetwise feline, a door has opened to a wonderful new world full of food.
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo that’s encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show works some decent dialogue throughout it but what we get here is about what you’d expect from a kind of slice of life show involving a cat. There are moments where it does go a bit bigger but that’s relative to the rest of the show and the simple time the two leads really spend together. The music adds some nice nuance to the events that are otherwise just standard dialogue and they fill the stage nicely. The encoding captures everything well with crisp and clear dialogue throughout and a solid presentation of the highs and lows and what little directionality we get overall.
Originally airing in 2019, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs in a standard nine/three format, giving it plenty of space. Animated by Zero-G, the show has a decent look about it as it works the man and cat roommate concept. The series works a pretty simple slice of life design to it with the apartment and all and the characters kind of mirror that in their own simplicity. It’s not the high living you see with a lot of shows with girls living on their own or at school so it’s kind of muted but looks good with what it wants to do. The bursts of color stand out well against everything and there’s a relaxed nature to the animation when our title cat isn’t terribly active. When it needs to get busy it does so quite well. .
The packaging for this release brings us a standard-sized Blu-ray case as it only includes the Blu-ray version (plus digital) of the show. The set comes with an o-card that’s different from the case artwork itself, which I always like. The o-card gives us a nice shot of Subaru and Haru together with Haru cutely on his shoulder. With a soft white background, the focus is where it needs to be and that combined with the color design for the logo makes it an easy draw. The case itself goes for a colorful key visual approach with blue skies and white clouds as the foreground has most of the main characters and some of the additional pets, giving it a busy but not chaotic feeling and different from the o-card itself. The back covers are the same for both as we get the soft cloudy look to it with the same color design of the brownish-gray and pinkish-orange from the logo. That brings the logo to the back as well with a little summary of the premise, the extras, and a nice collection of cute shots from the show. The technical grid breaks down the makeup of the Blu-ray well and the super tiny production credits are likely just there for legal reasons at this point. Within the case we get some additional Japanese cover artwork on the reverse side that’s cute while also getting an adorable set of very Japanese cat stickers with characters from the show.
The menu design for this release keeps things simple but definitely in theme as we get a static image layout. This sets a number of the boys across the screen in poses where they’ve got their small bathing suits on and are flexing and posing wildly, which when put together as they are here almost looks comical. The blues in the background look good with some nice definition to it while the logo below is really nicely done with the design and the use of color for the episodes by number and title. Everything moves quickly and easily, especially on the first disc where it’s just episode selection as there’s no language setup and the extras are on the second disc.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences as well as a fun little audio commentary included for the final episodes from the English production team.
Based on the manga series Dōkyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue, My Roommate is a Cat is a twelve-episode series that aired in the winter 2019 season and got a fast home video release. The original manga from writer Minatsuki and artist Asu Flex is serialized in Comic Polaris and has six volumes out since beginning in 2015. It’s not one of those big sprawling series with a ton of material but it generated some much enjoyed material to a large cat loving audience, which means it’s got the potential to really get more mainstream fans in Japan. The series came to us from animation studio Zero-G with Kaoru Suzuki directing from Deko Akao’s scripts. In watching the twelve episodes that are produced here you get a fairly standard slice of life bit with the oddness of a cat we get to know.
The premise for the show is one that’s easy to relate to as we’re introduced to Subuaru, a young man who is still dealing with the background loss of his parents some time ago. The show opens with him visiting the grave when he should be working on his novel since the deadline is coming up but the need to connect is important. It’s here that he makes a new connection with a stray cat that he gets along with and brings home, eventually naming Haru. The cat’s not thin or ragged at the start but he takes to being in a home nicely and is appreciative of Subaru’s efforts even if they’re not understood at first. The opening episode shows this well as Subaru gives him dry food as you’d expect and some time later we see Haru leaving dry food by Subaru’s door in the apartment. He low-key gets that Subaru hasn’t eaten much and is repaying the favor, but it goes awry as Subaru’s not eating cat good and tosses it in the garbage. For a stray cat, the whole thing is upsetting but the two eventually find their balance because they are mostly of the same temper.
The first few episodes do a nice job of large staying to just these two with only some minor appearances by other characters, often when he’s out doing things and often related to Haru. This helps to really strengthen the bonds between the to as it’s early in the dynamic and get to know each other. Haru’s exploration of the apartment is a delight, especially in how he finds things to get involved with such as Subaru’s laptop or messing up the manuscript, but these are standard things that happen both in real life and don’t happen to many people in a 1:1 kind of way. What we get are the kinds of moments that come when two people live together. Yes, Haru’s not people but the same thing applies as they have to figure out the dynamic and what’s acceptable. Haru makes it easy with his personality overall and we get to enjoy the more mischievous moments that crop up along the way – and that’s before some of the other people in Subaru’s life really make their appearances.
The first one that we really get to know is the expected one in Subaru’s editor as Atsushi is there early and helps as Subaru was struggling with his own lack of food. He’s got the usual problems of an editor but is more relaxed and more understanding and caring toward what it is that Subaru struggles with, so he’s always happy to visit and to try and get him out of the house. We get a similar vibe from Hiroto, a friend of Subaru’s from childhood that has long known what his friend is like and brings care packages of food over to ensure there’s something in the house. A lot of it just kind of frustrates me in shows like this because people have to know how to take care of themselves as adults and should learn early. Taking on Haru is risky but it’s the kind of move that can help get him to actually doing that, though the ease of which he can lean on his friends again for help is always problematic.
There are obviously cat-lovers within the show and we get that from things like the store clerk and her younger brother, who is also a fan of Subaru’s novels. There’s also other cats that come into play along the way – including Haru’s own relation as things get explored more. And we even get those that have a little bit of a crush on Subaru. There’s a great support side there for Subaru but he’s struggled for so long and is in that rut that it’s hard to get out of. Which is why I was glad to see the support system but also understand that Haru’s arrival in his life proved to be the real catalyst. Haru is always there, acts on his own for his own reasons, yet still requires care and attention even when it’s something that you don’t want to do. They may be “roommates” in the show but Subaru is more parent in many ways, and that helps to force him to grow up moe and do more, which in turn helps to repair and build the bonds with the people in his life.
While we do get a bit of last-episode drama about the series that left me not feeling it because you know it will be resolved well, the show is a whole is a very low-key delight. It’s not a high-stakes show but it’s a solid character one that takes our “odd couple” leads and puts them through their paces to be better in their lives. There are a lot of quiet charming moments for our two leads and I like that we do get to understand Haru with a voice rather than just meows but that the other characters don’t. The bigger silly moments are ideal cat moments and that combined with lots of good stuff with the supporting cast that wanders in and out Subaru’s life pulls it all together very well. There’s a lot to like here and it largely made me smile throughout its run – and thankful that my cat isn’t quite as capable as Haru is.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: November 26th, 2019
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.