For The Biggest Tear-Jerker Anime In 5 Minutes, Look No Further Than She and Her Cat

She and Her Cat was released in 1999 by Makoto Shinkai, who is now famously known for directing hits such as 5 Centimeters per Second (2007) and Your Name (2016). This single-episode OVA, which is just five minutes in length, was one of Shinkai’s first official animated works. He would complete the majority of the film by himself, using his own hand-drawn illustrations and 3D designs created within Adobe After Effects.

While much attention has been given to the likes of Clannad, Angel Beats and AnoHana as the biggest tear-jerker anime out there, She and Her Cat has stood the test of time. It remains a subtle yet emotional work of art that captures the beauty and sadness of relationships and how difficult it can be to find happiness in this world. The story focuses on the relationship between a male cat (Chobi) and his female owner, which spans an entire year. The film is narrated from the cat’s perspective, where the viewer learns about their daily lives, struggles and hopes for the future.

she and her chobi

She and Her Cat was produced in black-and-white. While this was originally intended as a method to minimize complex computer procedures, it manages to perfectly capture the tone of the film. Although the OVA acts as one whole, it can be considered as four separate parts that are split between spring, summer, fall and winter.

In the film’s opening, Chobi (who is voiced by Makoto himself) announces that “The season was the beginning of spring, and that day, it was raining.” This line sets the emotional backdrop of the story by informing the viewer that something isn't quite right. As spring is symbolic of life, growth and love, the addition of rain creates the feeling that these traits are either absent or have been dampened.

Shortly after this statement, a woman can be seen sitting next to her phone. It rings, but she does not answer. Chobi’s subsequent choice of words, which describe both characters' bodies as being “heavy with humidity” and surrounded by air that is “saturated,” create a sense of heaviness and claustrophobia reminiscent of a deep depression.

chobi and mimi

Soon after, the woman goes outside and finds Chobi in the rain. They begin to develop a relationship where, for Chobi, she has become a “mother” and “lover” figure within his life. Throughout the film, he goes on to describe her daily routine within the house, which largely revolves around her getting ready for and going to work.

In the summer, Chobi spends time with his girlfriend Mimi, another cat. While she loves him and wants to start a romantic relationship, Chobi does not share her feelings, as he wants to be with his owner. While this period of the film arguably exhibits the peak of its characters' happiness, Chobi informs the audience that “Gradually, cooler breezes begin to flow,” indicating that harder times lie ahead.

Chobi’s owner receives a phone call and after a long conversation, begins to cry. The news that has been received is so traumatic that she proceeds to throw her chair on the ground in anger. While the viewer is never privy to the conversation that has taken place, it appears that the woman’s partner has broken up with her.

In the last act of the film, which takes place during winter, Chobi comments that “In the darkness that has no end, this world that we are aboard continues to revolve.” This statement can be taken in two different ways: either as one of anguish, in which all beings are trapped and unable to take control, or as one of hope by reminding the viewer that all things must pass. Ultimately, both characters decide that they enjoy the lives they are leading; however, this sentiment is somewhat uncertain.

Moreover, while the love between Chobi and his owner is mutual, it is simultaneously one-sided. The two have a need for each other's company, but due to their differences and inability to communicate, they're unable to receive the support that they desire.

Shinkai originally intended for the film to help his romantic interest overcome a difficult situation. With this in mind, it seems plausible that he wanted to communicate that even when there appears to be no one around who cares for you, this is not truly the case. Chobi is unable to tell his owner that he loves her or that she has done nothing to deserve the situation she finds herself in. Despite this, Shinkai reminds the viewer that it's important to carry on with our lives, even when we find ourselves in difficulty.

She and Her Cat, although stark in its imagery and writing, is a helpful reminder that we are never alone or unloved. Everyone has their own Chobi, whether it's a pet, family member or friend. Life is never walked alone -- there is always someone who relies on us to continue with life's struggles.

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