“She and Her Cat,” One of Makoto Shinkai’s Early Short Films

Japanese animator Makoto Shinkai is often called “the new Miyazaki.” Such overly ambitious praise might scare off the average person, but for over a decade Shinkai has maintained his unique style without caving to pressure. While 5 Centimeters Per Second and The Garden of Words  might be some of his better known feature length work, like most animators, Shinkai got his start in short films. She and Her Cat is one of his first and most notable shorts. The black and white film tells the story of a cat and his owner from the cat’s point of view. As the cat makes poignant observations about his owner, the stripped down, slice-of-life portrayal of everyday life takes an unsuspected optimistic turn. But probably the best thing about the short is how Shinkai avoids the cutesy path in favor of bitter realism.

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