Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko: Everything Flows (She and Her Cat: Everything Flows) is a 4 episode short about a young woman in college who lives with her black cat as she searches for a new job. The short is narrated from the cat Daru’s point of view, and each episode is about 7 minutes long excluding the opening and ending songs. The opening theme is “Garasu no Hitomi” by Masumi Ito, and the ending theme is “Sonata” by Clammbon.
I had a feeling going into this series that it was going to hit me in the feels, and I was not wrong. I’m no longer in university, but I live alone right now with two cats, the older of the two being a senior. Watching this show reminded me of how precious each day with her is, because she will be 14 this year and won’t live forever.
Other themes in Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko include family, independence, mental health, and the struggles of trying to adult in a world that can sometimes be pretty harsh.
Episode 1 (She and Her Apartment)
We’re introduced to the main unnamed character, whom I’m just going to call “Kanojo” (since she’s technically referred to by this in the series title, as it’s the third person word for “her/she”) and her cat Daru. Kanojo and Daru have been living with Kanojo’s friend Tomoka in an apartment, but Tomoka is moving out. This means Kanojo will most likely have to move to a new place, because rentals in Japan can be very expensive and she won’t be able to afford her current place on her own.
Word gets back to Kanojo’s mother, who tries to talk her daughter into moving home so she can save money, but Kanojo refuses. There’s mention of an arrangement between Kanojo and her mother; it sounds like Kanojo was allowed to move out on the condition she had a roommate while she was in school. Meanwhile Kanojo is trying to find a new job, but she gets passed over so she tries to expand her net a little. In the end she gets dressed and goes to work and school like she always does, still trying to do her best despite opposition from the world around her.
In my personal opinion, what makes this show stand out to me is that it’s narrated from Daru’s point of view. If LIDENFILMS had chosen to have Kanojo be the star, this would be just another slice of life show. With Daru as the show’s narrator, this means that because Daru is an indoor cat, aside from flashbacks the show is limited to what happens within his little world – the apartment. This will take on more meaning after the next episode.
There’s something comforting about Daru’s love for his owner. It makes me wonder if this is how our pets see us. Is this how my cats see me? Oh, my heart.
Episode 2 (She and Her Sky)
This episode is largely a flashback. Kanojo and Daru are in the living room of Kanojo’s apartment, looking at the beautiful sky together. Kanojo reminisces for Daru about how they first met.
Daru was a kitten when he was given to Kanojo by her mother as a pet. The impression I got was that Kanojo’s parents separated, or her father is not in the picture to some capacity, so Kanojo has to be home alone after school because her mother is working. However Kanojo notices that her mother spends more time with the cat than she does, and she gets a little jealous. Kanojo continues to reject Daru, saying she’d rather be alone.
One day while her mother is out, Kanojo puts little Daru in a box and takes him to the nearby river, where she leaves him under the bridge. Young Daru is naive
to her plan, but it’s clear to the viewer what Kanojo’s intentions are. Kanojo doesn’t get far though, because as two teenage boys pass her on the path and spot Daru, she has a change of heart and goes back for him. I’m not ashamed to admit that this scene really got to me.
Later in the evening as the sun is setting, Kanojo is quietly sitting on the swings with Daru in her lap when suddenly a random little girl appears. She comments on how cute and soft Daru is, and Kanojo learns through mimicking the girl’s behaviour that yes he really is. This also marks the first honest interaction we see between Daru and Kanojo. The girl turns out to be from a class across the hall at school, and Daru inadvertently helps Kanojo make a new friend.
The flashback ends, and Kanojo and Daru share a meal together in the present. Daru observes that they each live in their own time, but the times when their lives intersect are more precious to him than anything.
Tissues became pretty much a prerequisite for me by this point, because the end of this episode was also when I started getting a sneaking suspicion about how this show was going to end… o(?_?)o
Episode 3 (She and the Look in Her Eyes)
The episode opens with Kanojo on the phone with someone. She comments to the person on the other end of the line that she wants to continue being a part-timer, although it’s not clear whether this is referring to her job or post-secondary studies.
Daru observes that the days are getting longer, and he’s sleeping longer and more deeply. During one particular nap he has a flashback to his mother and siblings, and it’s implied that they were killed by a large bird. Daru remarks on his age, saying that he remembers distant memories more clearly now for some reason, and that his body doesn’t move like it used to.
We get another flashback to a young Kanojo, perhaps when she is in her late teens. Her mother is opposed to Kanojo moving out, but Kanojo wants her mother to focus on her own life instead of always putting her daughter first. Kanojo is correct in pointing out that when her mother says things like she just wants Kanojo to be happy, or she’s waiting for Kanojo to do get a job before she remarries, it unfairly puts responsibilities and burdens on Kanojo’s shoulders and that’s not right.
Back in the present, Daru notices that Kanojo comes home later these days, but he’s not sure how long she’s been doing that for. While she’s away, he simply lies on her bed and waits for her. When she comes home, she smells like another town, someplace unfamiliar, but the show never specifies where she goes.
There’s another flashback, this time to when Kanojo finally moves out with Daru to live with Tomoka. Kanojo’s mother tries to impart some loving maternal wisdom to her daughter, but Kanojo is a little annoyed and brushes it off.
Back in the present, Kanojo is overwhelmed. Her mother leaves a voicemail asking why Kanojo never comes home to visit. Tomoka leaves a message lamenting that Kanojo won’t be able to make it to her wedding, but wants to schedule the after-party on a day when Kanojo will be able to attend. Kanojo is drowning in what she perceives as her inability to move forward, while she feels like others are [progressing in their lives without her. How do they do it? How do they make it look so easy? Daru feels her pain instinctively, but is unable to help her anymore; she will have to learn how to deal with this herself.
I thought the shot at the very end with Daru was very fitting. In the past when Daru was younger, while he couldn’t physically help Kanojo with her problems, he could lie near her or rub up against her and she would be comforted by his presence. However now that he’s getting older and can’t leap up onto the bed or the windowsill by himself anymore, he can’t comfort her the way that he used to. To me this is a metaphor for getting older: as we all become adults, sometimes we have to leave behind the things that comforted us when we were younger. (Oh and if you hear a cracking sound as you read this, it’s the sound of my heart starting to break. I definitely knew what was coming by this point.)
Episode 4 (She and Her Story)
Daru is up in the middle of the night, trying to get at something but is unable to reach it. Kanojo is curled up in her blanket like a cocoon on her bed, oblivious to Daru and the world around her.
At her mother’s house, a phone call wakes her up. She starts to talk to Kanojo but the line suddenly goes dead. In a panic she rushes over to Kanojo’s apartment and starts banging on the door. When Kanojo opens the door in a haze, her mother hugs her in immense relief.
Inside the two sit down for some tea. Her mother explains why she was so worried, and Kanojo theorizes that Daru must have somehow made it up to the little side table where the phone sits and dialed her mother’s number. The two women agree it must have been Daru because he missed Kanojo’s mother, and they share a laugh. It’s revealed that Kanojo’s mother did indeed remarry, but Kanojo still won’t call him “Dad.” Which is kind of bullshit in my opinion, since Kanojo wanted her mother to remarry and be happy, but now that she has Kanojo won’t acknowledge the man as part of their family. :/
As mother and daughter laugh together, Daru remembers one of the moments when a young Kanojo and her mother laughed together. He relaxes, reassured that they’re doing better now. As Kanojo’s mother gets ready to leave, Daru falls asleep into his “longest, deepest sleep yet”; it is implied that Daru dies in Kanojo’s arms without ever waking again.
Daru muses on the similarity of clacking train tracks and the sound of a beating heart. We see flashes of Tomoka with her husband, and Kanojo’s mother, before panning out to a shot of Earth in space. Back in her apartment, Kanojo lies on her bed, her eyes puffy from crying. She feels Daru walk up by her head, but when she sits up suddenly there is nothing there. Kanojo is sad, but she smiles knowing that Daru is still with her in spirit.
“In the room where she and I lived, though my time and hers no longer exist together, the world still moves and we still travel upon it. So one day, I know we’ll once again…”
There’s a timeskip, flashing forward to one year in the future. Kanojo’s hair has grown out, and Daru’s picture has been added to her picture board. She’s talking to Tomoka on the phone while she gets ready for her new job. The two friends talk about Daru, and Tomoka says she’s glad Kanojo is feeling better. The girls decide to make plans to celebrate, since they’ve been putting it off for a long time.
After the ending theme song, we’re treated to a bonus scene. Near the river, possibly under the same bridge that Kanojo once tried to leave Daru, there is a little white cat sitting in a cardboard box out in the rain. Many people stop to look at him, but no one takes him home. The cat is narrating again, but in a voice that is not quite Daru’s. Yet from the way he speaks, it’s pretty clear that this new white kitty is Daru reincarnated. Kanojo looks into his box, and this cat recognizes her scent. With a smile, Kanojo picks him up and takes him home.
“Beneath a soft curtain of rain, I was thinking of a long journey I would never be able to remember. At the end of a long, long journey, I ended up here. I forgot a lot of things, but there’s one thing I faintly remember: Her scent. Earth turned quietly on its axis, and in the midst of this big world, she and I quietly lost body heat together. Just as our heat and our breaths flow across this planet, she and I flowed across the planet, and ended up here so we could meet once again. That was the day she took me home. And that’s why I’m her cat.”
[cue my gross and ugly sobbing]
Ugh, I don’t know why I do this to myself. I knew this was probably going to be something deep and somber, one way or another, and I was right. I love me the psychological shows with some depth to them, but I didn’t think I’d be watching something that hit quite so close to home. I literally haven’t been able to get through the fourth episode without crying, regardless of whether I’m watching or writing about it. (?_?)
What has been sticking with me upon finishing Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko is Daru’s comment about his life intersecting with Kanojo’s and how those moments are precious to him. My two cats have always been indoor-only, and since I work and have a social life I am away from home for a period of time most days out of the week. I usually assume they are happy and content, but now I’ve been trying to look at life from their angle, namely their interactions with me. As their (pet) parent, how do they see me? Are they as happy to see me as Daru is to see Kanojo? Do they feel like they’ve had a fulfilling life? It’s definitely food for thought.
Anyways, on to the anime. For a short I was really impressed with Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko. As of this writing it’s scored at a little over 7.5 on MAL, but I would give it a higher rating.
Story: Because it’s only four episodes long, it’s hard to fit much of a plot into this show, but Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko manages to pull it off by focusing on Daru’s relationship with Kanojo, Kanojo’s relationship with her mother, and Kanojo’s interactions with the world around her. These three things flow together smoothly, tying one in with the other so that they are hard to distinguish from each other.
As someone who’s left the post-secondary world and is now adulting by holding down a job and paying rent like Kanojo, I also appreciated that Kanojo’s employment struggles were included in this show. Her inability to find a new job also does not overshadow the story, instead only contributing to tensions between mother and daughter in the first episode, and Kanojo’s mental health issues in the last two.
Characters: Daru, Kanojo and her mother are the three main characters in this show. I liked how the use of flashbacks fleshed out both more of Kanojo’s backstory, and more of the conflicts she had had with her mother in the past. The latter is important for showing how those difficulties contributed to their current relationship. The struggles between Kanojo and her mother regarding Kanojo’s growing independence were something I can definitely relate to and can sympathize with.
In particular I feel like Daru being Kanojo’s childhood kitty helped him serve as something as a bridge between mother and daughter. Their relationship has its issues, but Daru has the ability to inspire nostalgia, make them laugh, and help bring the two closer together. And while I was admittedly dreading Daru’s death, I thought it was very touching and appropriate that he passed away in Kanojo’s arms, secure in his feelings that she would continue to mend her relationship with her mother.
Music and Animation: The anime has a very clean feel, but the graphics are still quite beautiful and detailed. The scenic shots in particular have a watercolor feel to them, especially with the shots of lush blue skies or fiery orange sunsets. *0*
Speaking as a pet parent of two cats, Daru’s movements and behaviours as a cat are very realistic. Not for a moment did he do anything that seemed out of character for a cat, and the quality of animation never suffered.
The opening and ending themes were alright, very simple with a country, almost folksy feel. The opening theme, “Garasu no Hitomi”, is a short instrumental track – something unique among anime. Offhand, the only other show I can think of with an instrumental opening theme song is Haibane no Renmei. The fourth episode differs in that the opening theme is not included, and the ending theme is moved up slightly in order to make room for the ending scene with the white cat.
Overall Thoughts: Despite the fact that this show was the reason why I went through half a box of tissues in a couple of days, I think it’s a quality show. The music and animation are simple yet consistent, and serve to enhance Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko‘s atmosphere. My current situation and being a pet parent to two cats helped me relate to this series, but those are not the sole reasons why I enjoyed this anime.
For while this may appear to be a simple show about a young woman and her cat, it has connected with me on a deeper philosophical level, giving me cause to reexamine my life with my cats and ponder the circle of life. I know that sounds kinda cheesy, but it’s still true. Maybe we will meet again in this lifetime or another, in another form, another body. What a comforting thought, to be able to recognize a loved one or a beloved pet despite wearing a coat of another color. Is that not something to cherish above all else?
Final Score: 9.5/10
[Author’s Note: This show is cited as being part of the Spring 2016 lineup, but aired during March 2016 during the Winter 2016 season.]