Jyunpei Kousaka only begins to realise his mistake when he wakes up to find he can understand his family’s grumpy cat, Nyamsus. It makes him cast his mind back to the walk home from school the day before, when he managed to decapitate a statue to the feline guardian spirit neko-jizou-sama. But still he doesn’t quite understand the consequences, until the very creatures he hates give him a rundown of the fine print. Carrying the burden of a miffed mog deity’s punishment, he’s now indebted to perform 100 good deeds for the local cats. Otherwise, he will become his most detested allergen.
As Jyunpei skirts around the curse with his kitty-loving crush Kaede Mizuno, for a short time Nyan Koi! balances the usual suspects of rom-com humour with the skittish eccentricities of the hilarity we endear to cats, setting it apart from its supernatural harem partners. But the matter of Jyunpei’s redemption in the eyes of the cat guardian soon starts to slip out of focus, with an increasing amount of his rescues falling between episodes. The poor kitties on camera don’t fare much better after a time, bundled into the plot as devices to make forced sense of the surging harem, until it isn’t even much about cats any more.
The final additions to Jyunpei’s dull and doting following, the Kirishima twins Kotone and Akari, drop in three episodes before the finale and seem rushed through to fill the moe requirement. The magical girl references that trail along behind them accentuate the distracted scramble towards the series’ conclusion, leaving behind its potential as a fable for finding courage and happiness through casting off hatred. Jyunpei’s childhood friend, Kanako Sumiyoshi, flaunts her manba gal make-up at first to feel strong, and shows signs of beginning a poignant tale of self-discovery intertwined with the main protagonist’s. But within one episode her war paint is washed off, and she settles into her diluted state as another of her regular pretty classmates. Just like this, meaningful character arcs seem to be set up just to get snipped short, and you’re left with a standard harem with just a few cat hairs providing a quirky connection.