The Masterful Cat is Depressed Again Today: Episode 1 Review

This show's not just another slice of life copycat.

by J.R. Waugh
The Masterful Cat is Depressed Again Today Episode 1 Review
© HITSUZI YAMADA・KODANSHA/ The Masterful Cat Is Depressed Again Today Project

The Summer 2023 anime season is full of the usual suspects in terms of crowd-pleasing new seasons and highly-anticipated adaptations of existing properties. But sometimes, bizarre new adaptations come out of the blue to impress and enthrall fans and casual viewers alike. One genre that can provide surprises such as these is “slice of life”, where even day-to-day ordinary lives injected with some humor can go a long way. In the case of this review, the twist comes in the form of a gargantuan housecat in The Masterful Cat is Depressed Again Today, and I’m already hooked from Episode 1.

A Cozy, Unexpectedly Funny Anime

© HITSUZI YAMADA・KODANSHA/ The Masterful Cat Is Depressed Again Today Project

The bizarre premise of a human-sized housecat (named Yukichi) that doubles as a passionate housekeeper was a clear case for a comedy series. But the characterization of Yukichi, especially with his slovenly owner, Saku, makes it so much more rewarding to watch. It’s not simply that he takes care of the house, does the dishes, the cleaning, and manages Saku’s life from the moment she wakes up. Hear me out on this: he’s still, at heart, just a big cat.

This should feel obvious but even in promo images you begin to assume that Yukichi is some well-spoken anthropomorphic kitty, and that’s simply false. He walks on his hind legs and wears an apron to cook, and even calls Saku on the phone and successfully conveys disappointment when she can’t make it for dinner. But he also chases birds, will do his best to fit inside even the most comically small cat bed, detests water, and tucks himself into a loaf and sits on her. It’s charming, and a cozy, unexpectedly funny anime.

The Animation and Direction is the Cat’s Meow

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Aside from the humor, there are some outstanding aspects to The Masterful Cat is Depressed Again Today even just from a review of the visuals from Episode 1. It’s essentially a modern-day urban Japan, but it feels alive, with the denizens and traffic buzzing and moving to help this series set itself apart from other shows that usually have a more static backdrop.

You see small scenes such as at subway stations where crowds and non-essential characters are moving about, seemingly individually animated. When Saku and Yukichi are home together, some scenes feel impressive such as Yukichi dragging an exhausted Saku to her bed in seemingly one continuous “take.” The animation and direction are the cat’s meow, with individual scenes teeming with life and even a shot of a moving car, zooming in to see the driver feels impressive in animated form. However, it feels like some shortcuts were taken.

CG Scenes and Questionable Angles Look Like Something the Cat Dragged in

© HITSUZI YAMADA・KODANSHA/ The Masterful Cat Is Depressed Again Today Project

Masterful Cat in many ways feels like it should have no business looking so good. It’s easily the best-animated, most well-produced anime of all the Summer 2023 anime I’ve gotten to review so far. But given that it’s an adaptation of a Kodansha series, a publisher I’ve seen produce plenty of critical darlings, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. But conversely, I was surprised by how distracting the CG moments were.

These moments are few and far between, but the CG scenes and questionable camera angles look like something the cat dragged in. This includes fake-looking citizens in overhead shots from far away and overly smooth, glossy vehicles. There is also an odd amount of canted-angle shots that feel unnecessary. It takes away from the genuinely striking traditional animation that goes on for the majority of the show and is ultimately not a dealbreaker, but something of which you should be wary going into Episode 2.

The Verdict

© HITSUZI YAMADA・KODANSHA/ The Masterful Cat Is Depressed Again Today Project

I could list off tons of stuff I love about this show, but more than anything else, I just found it to be such a pleasant surprise. Slice-of-life anime shows are something I am often skeptical about in terms of viewing them for their serious artistic quality, and I thought it’d be like belling a cat to find one I’d be excited to follow. The animation is superb, the comedy is relatable, and Yukichi is larger than life and adorable.

There are several reservations I have. Saku’s character feels a tad one-dimensional, and her job is too vague for you to feel invested in, even though her coworkers are intriguing, and I’d happily just watch Yukichi, but he exists to care for Saku, who rescued him as a kitten.

I also have plenty of questions about Masterful Cat. Will the CG be around in future episodes, and be as distracting? Why has Yukichi’s neighbor known so casually about him since his kitten days? Why doesn’t she question this, yet Saku feels the need to hide him?

Despite these and plenty of other observations, I can’t help but want to check out more work from Masterful Cat‘s studio, GoHands, as this show has easily made me a fan. It’s funny, approachable, and wholesome, and if you have a cuddly cat like I do, keep them close so they can watch with you.

This review of The Masterful Cat is Depressed Again Today Episode 1 was made using a screener provided by Crunchyroll and Sony Pictures. Masterful Cat Episode 1 premieres on Saturday, July 8, 2023, at 8:00 AM PT, and is available to stream weekly on Crunchyroll.

- This article was updated on September 7th, 2023

About The Author

J.R. is a content creator with AOTF and has been covering gaming and entertainment in the industry since 2022. Along with a B.A. in History from the University of Cincinnati, he has studied at the University of Birmingham, UK, and part of his M.A. at the University of Waterloo. You'll find J.R. particularly at home writing about the hottest manga and anime. He is highly passionate about horror, strategy, and RPGs, and anything about Star Trek or LOTR. When not ranting about fan theories or writing guides, J.R. also manages his local movie theater.


The Masterful Cat is Depressed Again Today (Episode 1)

  • Score: 4 / 5
  • Available On: Crunchyroll
  • Published By: Kodansha
  • Developed By: GoHands
  • Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life
  • US Release Date: July 7, 2023
  • Reviewed On: Screener provided by Crunchyroll and Sony Pictures
  • Quote: "The animation is superb, the comedy is relatable, and Yukichi is larger than life and adorable."
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