Review: She and Her Cat GN
Updated: Feb 7, 2021
I held off on reading this fully for some time as I've read enough depressing dog books (see Stargazing Dog for a soul crushing time) and I didn't feel like I needed a depressing cat book to push me over any emotional edges. It's been waiting in a pile for far too long though, and I really like Tsubasa Yamaguchi's artwork so it's time to take the plunge.
The story follows a young woman named Miyu who lives alone and one day found and adopted a cat she named Chobi.
The narration of the book falls entirely on Chobi, who loves Miyu unconditionally and recounts her day to day activities. While Chobi recognizes Miyu's sadness, Chobi's innocence doesn't allow him to understand it and we're left to pick up the contextual clues as well as some short asides that break from Chobi's expositions.
The storytelling has a melancholy flow to it, emphasizing its quiet moments to help elevate the sense of loneliness and isolation we can gleam from Miyu. There's an interesting balance as Chobi's narrations help to break it up so it's never too oppressive and we're left with a mostly pensive feeling of unrest.
The art captures the emotions perfectly, subtly depicting the hidden sadness in Miyu's smiles and speaking volumes in the tired look in her eyes. All of this is nicely framed with the sparsity of the layouts and design. While it never goes too minimal so as to omit backgrounds, the simple and clean rooms and architecture help to amplify feelings of isolation and of being trapped.
While SAHC does delve into topics of depression and feelings of being lost in life, it's ultimately a story about healing over time. And as such, it's also about waiting through that period and figuring things out slowly. It's also about the value of different types of companionship, and not relying too much on romantic love to define any sense of self-worth. There's a lot to take away from what is a simply told story with a minimal plot, but it does so beautifully and rewards the reader by the end with certain affirmations that may sound small but hold much value.
Depending on where you are emotionally with all the stress these days, this may seem like it could be a tough read. It's well worth your time though, and as I said it gives the gifts of certain small affirmations. And sometimes those small affirmations can go a mile for your mental health.