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Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

Currently reading

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 1
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Progress: 103/374 pages
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Jeff Lindsay
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Nyankees (manga, vol. 1) by Atsushi Okada, translated by Caleb Cook

Nyankees, Vol. 1 - Atsushi Okada, Caleb D. Cook

This series stars a bunch of stray cats who are usually depicted as tough human thugs and gang members. Ryuusei is a newcomer in Nekonaki, the territory ruled by Taiga and his gang. He doesn't always think before getting into fights, but he's tough and has the scars to prove it. Taiga and the others think he might be looking to steal some territory, but in reality the only thing he's interested in is finding a mysterious calico tom with a scarred eye. There's a chance that the cat Ryuusei wants to find is the new leader of the Goblin Cat Tails, but in order to meet him he'll first have to fight his way through a bunch of cats trying to create a cat utopia.

The main reason I got this was because of the cats. And also, the "cats depicted as people" aspect reminded me a little of Hatoful Boyfriend (although I suppose that was "birds briefly depicted as people"). Based on what I've seen of the cat politics around my apartment building, depicting cats as thugs duking it out for pieces of territory seemed like something that would work well.

The art was decent: nice clean lines, cats that were usually drawn well (the legs were occasionally weird), and easy-to-follow action. I liked the way Okada worked aspects of each cats' fur pattern into their clothing design. For example, Taiga, an orange tabby, wore a jacket with tabby stripes on it. Design-wise, Madara was my favorite, both in his human and cat versions. As a cat, he was a tortoiseshell (which would probably be hell to draw consistently if Madara became a regular character). In his human form, his tortoiseshell pattern became a coat with a camo pattern.

The humor was so-so. A few crass moments, like when Ryuusei tried to hit on Mii, or when a panel focused on Ryuusei's jiggling feline balls (so many cat testicles in this). There was also the bit with Ryuusei and the box. Honestly, it's amazing he's survived this long.

The whole "cats depicted as people" thing seemed a little inconsistent. It wasn't quite that these were cats sometimes shown as people but still 100% cats - Okada occasionally drew them in poses that weren't natural for cats but were natural for their human depictions. But behavior-wise, they also weren't just cats with people's minds. It was a bit weird.

Unfortunately, the characters and story didn't capture my attention at all. The characters did a lot of shouting and posturing but didn't otherwise stand out much. The one moment Ryuusei really stood out, for example, was when he demonstrated a willingness to show his belly to humans in order to charm them into giving him food. Otherwise, though, he was mostly Main Tough Guy Who Shouts a Lot and Is Occasionally Silly. Taiga was Leader Tough Guy Who Shouts a Lot. Then there was Kinbi and Ginbi, aka Tough Villain Guys With Dreadlocks Who Shout a Lot. And Mii was The Girl. I assume this world has more than one female cat in it, but you wouldn't know it from what you saw in this volume. I liked that it was noted that the volume's male calico and tortoiseshell were both rare, but it would have been nice to see more female characters.

It was a little confusing, but it sounded like the male calico Ryuusei was looking for was maybe someone he looked up to at some point. Other than that, I have no idea why finding this particular cat was so important to him. I also don't know that I care enough to buy any more of this, although there's a possibility I might check out a library copy of the next volume one day.

Extras:

A page of translator's notes, which for some reason is included just before the final chapter in the volume, and a couple full-color illustrations.

A missed opportunity: the volume was peppered with cat-related terms that readers might not necessarily know, like clowder and molly, so a page devoted to those might have been a good idea.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)