“The more remote and unreal the personal mother is, the more deeply will the son’s yearning for her clutch at his soul, awakening that primordial and eternal image of the mother for whose sake everything that embraces, protects, nourishes, and helps assumes maternal form, from the Alma Mater of the university to the personification of cities, countries, sciences and ideals.” – Jung, “Paracelsus as a Spiritual Phenomenon” (1942) In CW 13: Alchemical Studies P.47
Nyan Koi! chronicles the struggles of a young Japanese male coming to grips with his manhood through the maturation of his anima, the feminine component of his psyche.
We learn halfway into the episode that Junpei is the de facto “man of the house,” but there is something empty and entirely lacking in this role. Junpei is still a mere high school student; he has yet to win the girl of his dreams so any aspirations of running the house and becoming the surrogate father are simply premature.
A man’s anima consists of aspects of his mother and sister, but we see a wall of emotional distance between Junpei and his immediate family throughout the episode. They are nuisances he grudgingly tolerates, a mark of an immature but nevertheless obedient boy. To become a man, he must confront his anima, but by that, he should not oppose the matriarchy. Rather, he should establish a symbiotic relationship in which his role elevates beyond menial tasks (like buying leeks at the grocery store) to something meaningful.
His battles first begin in the unconscious. Unable to become his mother’s equal in the family, he struggles instead with the mother within him. From a literal standpoint, Junpei can hear cats talking, but if we dig down lower into the subtext that the anime is attempting to convey, we see a man in a tug-of-war with his anima. The cats’ voices come from within him, and–let’s not forget–cats are usually associated with the feminine.
The “cats” throughout the episode regularly dispense advice to Junpei, particularly on how to be a man. After all, who else should know a man’s role better than the mother or the wife?
It is interesting that Junpei regards all cats as “allergens.” His anima is thus still immature, currently in the Eve state where he sees the majority of women as evil (allergens) yet nevertheless powerless (small household pets). The cats’ increasing influence over Junpei cannot be ignored, however. The course of the series will trace his anima development, culminating in perhaps a “masterpiece” if he should ever succeed. He must strike a delicate balance between listening to his anima (the cats), but at the same time, not allowing it to dominate him as he has become dominated in his household as the ineffectual man of the house.
What role does Mizuno play then? As with all anime love interests, Mizuno appears almost perfect from the outset. Adored by all and (of course) lacking any personality flaws, she is the Mary that Junpei looks to achieve. He does not yet understand, however, that the Mary is still an incomplete stage of anima development. By confronting and compromising with his anima (the cats), he learns that Mizuno is not perfect (her handling of cats) and thus not his Mary. Rather, Mizuno is Sophia, a balanced perception of a female where both positive and negative traits coexist and who he should truly pursue.