She and Her Cat | Makoto Shinkai & Naruki Nagakawa #JPNshortstories

One of the online sites that came up when I duck, duck, go’d this title, suggested She and Her Cat was one of the five translated books this season that could soothe a battered soul. My soul was not feeling particularly battered (except for this seemingly endless La Niña rain!) but I definitely felt soothed after reading these four short interconnected cat stories.

(The other four books to soothe a battered soul are Banana Yoshimoto’s new book of stories, Dead-End Memories, Diary of a Void by Emi Yagi (already on my TBR), Weasels in the Attic by Hiroko Oyamada and Idol, Burning by Rin Usami. Judging by my success with this one, the other four are sure to appear here soon!)

First up, I should declare that I am a cat person, and I am very fond of the Japanese fascination with cats in literature.

She and Her Cat began life as a five minute 1999 anime by Makoto Shinkai. He described it as ‘the relationship between a male cat and his female owner told from the cat’s perspective.’ In 2016 it was adapted into an anime TV series as well as a manga version drawn by Tsubasa Yamaguchi. I’m not really sure how Naruki Nagakawa features in all of this. The closest I could work out is that he (in his role as an anime screen writer) may have contributed towards turning Shinkai’s original five minute anime into the longer form TV series, which included the other three stories now also in this collection.

Tk’s illustration from Sea of Words

The 2022 English translation includes four chapter illustrations at the beginning of each one. The only clue to the illustrator is tk. Whoever you are tk, I love your work! Each one complemented the story so perfectly that I found myself going back to each one several times to check out the various details as the story unfolded.

In each of the stories – Sea of Words, First Blossoming, Slumber and Sky and The Temperature of the World – four cats (who are either related or friends) are adopted by lonely women. The stories alternate between the cat’s point of view and the human one. Some of the cats are kittens, some are feral. Most of the women are young artists, but the last woman is a widow. There’s also Jon the all-knowing guardian dog who shares his wisdom and knowledge in a saint-like manner.

The stories are delightful, sad in places, but mostly full of the simple joys of being a cat. A real treat on yet another rainy Saturday!

Favourite Character:

The cats of course! But Kuro, the old feral cat who features in three of the stories, was my favourite.

Favourite Quote:

Arriving home she would always bring so many outdoor smells with her. The smell of other people, of soil from a place I’d never been to. A smell I didn’t recognise. I savoured them all, and rubbed the back of my head on her ankles to top up my own scent that had begun to grow weak on her.

Bibliofile:

Title: She and Her Cat | Kanojo To Kanojo No Neko | 彼女と彼女の猫
Authors: Makoto Shinkai & Naruki Nagakawa
Illustrator: tk
Translators: Ginny Tapley Takemori (poetry translation by Roger Pulvers)
ISBN: 9780857528223
Imprint: Doubleday
Published:  5 October 2022 (originally published 2013)
Format: Hardback
Pages: 160
Date Read: 3 September 2022 
  • This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are this land’s first storytellers.

9 thoughts on “She and Her Cat | Makoto Shinkai & Naruki Nagakawa #JPNshortstories

  1. I have read one book about cats, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (I just saw my copy on ebay for $583.00 !). I can’t imagine reading this one, but the illustrations look interesting.

    Like

    1. Yes, although the Japanese love of cats dates back centuries especially through art & song. I found a letter online from March 11, 889 CE, by the 22-year-old Emperor Uda who wrote about his fascination with his new cat:
      “In rebellion, it narrows its eyes and extends its needles. It shows its back.
      When it lies down, it curls in a circle like a coin. You cannot see its feet. It’s as if it were circular Bi disk. When it stands, its cry expresses profound loneliness, like a black dragon floating above the clouds.”

      Liked by 1 person

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