Jul 16, 2023
Community Library Notes: “She and Her Cat” by Makoto Shinkai
“She and Her Cat” by Makoto Shinkai is a series of four vignettes about women and their cats by this Japanese writer, director, and animator who knows about women and cats. The first cat moves from a
“She and Her Cat” by Makoto Shinkai is a series of four vignettes about women and their cats by this Japanese writer, director, and animator who knows about women and cats. The first cat moves from a cardboard box to an apartment with a woman (un-named), and we meet the woman’s boyfriend, Nobu, who talks a lot. It’s a rainy day when she moves in, and Tamaki and Nobu both help. Later, Nobu comes to fix the leak from the washing machine to the hose. Still later, Nobu walks with our cat, and he’s affectionate. She thinks she won’t see him again. She goes to her warm apartment from where she can see the train. She’s called Chobi now, and she likes her name. The woman gives Chobi food and smiles a lot. Later, Chobi sleeps on her bed, and the woman sings to herself as she cooks her Miso soup and gives bits of dried fish to Chobi. In the morning, the woman changes clothes and goes to work after watching TV. Author/director Shinkai weaves the cats’ and women’s voices and thoughts together as if conversing. Chobi wakens from her nap and leaves the house through a hole in the kitchen wall. A big dog, Jon, says she can come and visit at any time. Chobi’s mother used to come often. A young kitten comes to play and says her name is Mimi. Chobi sends her away and ignores her.
Chobi wants to tell her woman about Jon and her mother’s territory. The woman asks Nobu what he’s doing for Golden Week, and he replies he’s working, so Tamaki comes over instead. They drink beer and watch TV. The woman doesn’t realize her best friend has feelings for Nobu and loses her best friend and Nobu. When she cries, she has Chobi to comfort her. Chobi realizes he can’t help her as he lives his days by her side.
The next cat watches a girl sit in front of an easel and a stretched canvas. The girl spends all day layering paint on the canvas, and a scene emerges. When the girl sees a cat, she gives her canned fish in oil and calls her Mimi. The girl recalls how she and her parents and Mimi would eat their breakfast together, but now, because mom and dad are separated, they eat with new partners, and the girl has her apartment. She’s proud of her painting ability, and her white cat is her approving audience. Mimi talks about the girl, how she smells of alcohol and paint, tobacco and spices. Mimi is deaf and doesn’t always hear cars or other cats. The girl, Reina, tells Masato from her art class she will get a job and submit a piece for the art festival. Mimi meets Chobi when Reina is away all day. She thinks he’s different and easy-going. They sniff each other and promise to meet again. The girl treats them both to a can of tuna and eats ice cream with them.
One afternoon, a woman from art school is waiting for Reina. When she enters the apartment and sees the painting Reina is working on, she says wow, that’s a masterpiece. She tries to get Reina to agree to try the university entrance exam again, saying having a degree is important, but talent isn’t enough to get ahead.
Mimi wants to have Chobi’s children and asks him to marry her, but he says he has a girlfriend. A huge cat catches a bird for Mimi when she asks him to, and she admires him and calls him Kink Tail. Mimi runs after him, and they make love. As Autumn arrives, author Shinkai describes the changing colors and the changes in the body of Reina’s cat. The Boss praises Reina’s painting, but she knows he’s interested in her body. If she gives it to him, he’ll probably give her a job. She thought he thought she had talent. She tells him to leave, and he speeds away in his car. The neighbors hoot and applaud. She’s angry with herself and lets Mimi sleep with her, comforting her. Mimi is full of Kink Tail’s kittens but doesn’t want to be a nuisance to Reina. While Mimi is in the shed having her kittens, Chobi goes to the house, and Reina knows to follow him. In the shed, she finds the kittens and calls Masato to help. In Spring, kittens are everywhere in Reina’s apartment. Reina finds good people to adopt them, and Mimi is officially Reina’s cat. Lovely black and white drawings introduce each chapter and show the kittens everywhere.
Mari and Aoi have been best friends for years, since elementary school. Aoi makes drawings of Mari’s stories; one day, a publisher expresses interest in publishing them. But Mari can’t think of a single story, and her mind is blank. Aoi is angry because this could be their big break. Aoi tells Mari to “drop dead.” Kuro, the oldest feral cat and now the loneliest, goes around his neighborhood and leaps onto a balcony.
Meanwhile, Mimi’s youngest kitten is home with a woman who lives nearby who names her Cookie. Kuro comes over, gobbles up the dry food in Cookie’s bowl, and asks why she never goes outside. Kuro says he’ll ask Jon, who knows everything. Cookie scares the crows away from inside the glass window but never goes outside. It’s hard for her to do it. She has an illness that keeps her inside. Kuro tells Cookie to follow him, and Aoi appears in her pajamas.
Jon is smart and tells Kuro everything he needs to know about the earliest life forms, how they are now extinct, and how new life forms have emerged. He says he must go away, and all the cats come to say goodbye. Chobi says he’ll miss Jon and the advice he gives them. Jon slips his head out of his collar and tells them he’ll come back someday, and at that time, they can have anything they want. Spring arrives, and cherry blossoms bloom. Chobi and Kuro watch the train for a while, and Reina comes to find them.
Does Reina get together with Ryota? What happens to Cookie and Aoi? Does Cookie overcome her fear of going outside? Find out in this delightful animated story of cats who talk like humans and have similar feelings. It’s on the new fiction shelf of your local library.
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