Review: Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu

Magazine-Z (2007)

1 volume, 10 chapters total (complete series)

Written & Illustrated by Junji Ito

Summary: Famed horror manga-ka Junji Ito gives his unique flare to comedy in this short series about his life of coming to terms with being a new cat owner.

Review: Are you a cat owner? I bet you are, this is the internet. We’re all cat owners here.

But I bet you’re not a new cat owner. I bet you’ve never even been a new cat owner. One day you just were because this is the internet, and that’s what we all do. It’s the only thing we all know how to do, if I’m being honest.

So this manga probably won’t appeal to you. Because it’s about new cat owners, and that’s definitely not what you are.

Cat Diary pageHowever, if you find yourself keen in your interest for this series, perhaps based off of the name of manga-ka it’s by, or his unique art style, or even the fact that it’s about cats. Or, and here’s a crazy idea, you’re one of the 1% of people in this world who is a NEW cat owner, then let me tell you about what you’re in store for.

Cat Diary is a slice-of-life comedy with a creepy vibe thanks to Ito’s trademark art style. Featuring elongated features and twisted lines on each character within this manga. It’s also autobiographical, with a few exaggerations here and there for good humor and to make for an interesting read.

This is Ito’s own tale of becoming a new cat owner told from the perspective of someone who has been mostly a dog person all his life. And while the caricatures of himself and his wife are a skewed just a bit you can definitely tell that this is a labor of love and he’s having fun telling such a personal tale from his everyday life.

I found myself truly enjoying Cat Diary through and through with each chapter. And each chapter isn’t very long, with the longer chapters being around something like 17 pages or so. So this series as a whole is very quick read.

Yon & Mu the cats are precious babies who certainly act like cats. Yon is especially a little dung heap of a creature whenever he finds himself getting into mischief. But at the end of the day they’re still just cats, and no matter how much Mr. J wants you to believe Yon is an accursed creature, he’s still a lovable little beast who craves love and attention over all.

Even if cats like Yon have a strange way of showing it.

Mu is the more relaxed of the two and doesn’t get into a lot of big stories of his own. He gets one about the time he went to get neutered. But that’s really about it. In the grand scheme of things it’s definitely Yon that steals the show.

I talked a bit early about Ito’s trademark artwork and it is unmistakably on display here. He has this great way of taking ordinary facial expressions or happenings and making them feel otherworldly and fearsome. There are plenty of of times the story features our cast in relatively ordinary situations but thanks to Ito’s over-exaggerated way of putting things, these ordinary situations turn into downright creepy memories. It’s a breath of fresh air to all the scorns of slice-of-life stories that exist in this medium and definitely gives this a kick to stand out amongst the crowd.

Cat Diary isn’t long at all and something you can easily knock out in an hour or so. And after you’re done with it, check out more of Ito’s work. The man is great, and as a fan getting to read this and see a little bit into his personal life makes me feel that much more connected as a whole.

Fear not this manga dear readers, but instead embrace it. And be happy you did afterwards.

Final Score: 5 Accursed Felines out of 5.

It’s purrr-fect.

DERRICK-imageDerrick is a born and raised otaku with a love for comics, anime, manga and movies. The full list is pretty long, but that’s just the basics. Stories set in space are his bread and butter.

You can find more of his writing at IndieComix.net

@KazekunForever

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