Director Makoto Shinkai’s She and HerCat is his first anime project that he directed. The short film has won Shinkai praise for his artistry, including that of winning the 2000 DoGA CG animation contest Grand Prix. This is a very personal piece created after he experienced some issues in his personal life whih inspired him to pursue his hobby of animation. Shinkai produced the film entirely himself, going as far as to personally voice the main character of the short feature. Shinkai is a personal hero of mine who focusing mainly on colour and backgrounds has gone on to create gorgeous visual albeit often slow paced films such as 5cms a Second and Voices from a Distant Star.
She and Her Cat chronicles a male cat by the name of Chobi and his experience with his female human owner only known as “She”. The story is told through the perspective of Chobi, and we get to see how he lives out his days relaxing at home, venturing out into the world—where he meets his first girlfriend Mimi—and even sharing a depressing moment with his human companion. The story showcases the tender relationship than can form between a human and a cat, and conveys it in a way that is most certainly relatable to anyone who has ever owned an animal himself or herself. While Chobi doesn’t understand the emotional complexity of his human companion—which is understandable since he is an animal—his respect and admiration for his her transcends this understanding and presents a tale of true love; relying solely on the affixation of that companionship and nothing else. Shinkai displays supreme talent in this regard, and carefully envelops the viewer into a world emotional value and mutual companionship.
Visually, the film is entirely in monochrome, which I believe was done on purpose to showcase how Chobi views the world as a cat—essentially cats can view certain colors, but not to the extent that a human can. This lack of color usage goes to show that Shinkai adheres to showcasing such specific detail within his work. This is especially curious in comparison to his later work such as Voices from a distant star which uses a host of bright and luminous layers of bold colour to set the scene.
Most of Shinkai's settings in She and Her Cat stem from digital photographs of real-life locations which have a personal meaning to him and are created by importing his own pictures into a photo editing software and creating layers of artwork over the original photographs. This lends the films a realistic look within the space of an animated work. The characters of Chobi—including his cat girlfriend Mimi—are presented differently from the rest of the film and are drawn in a cute and simplistic manner, utilized to perhaps reinforce the kawaii culture pertaining to animals, in this case the usage of cats, and it works out here effectively well.
Overall, She and HerCat is an excellent short film that provides an interesting examination of our relationships with pets. It provides a creative and endearing experience with careful attention to detail and it’s this vision presented by Shinkai that would later be viewed in his future films that would establish him as a distinctive director. Given the talent shown with SheandHerCat Makoto Shinkai certainly utilizes his passion to create stories that one can relate too, no matter how short they may be.