There’s nothing quite like getting a new home with your loving fiance, And mangaka Junji Ito is determined to make the most of his new, beautiful aquisition… Until his fiance suddenly announces she is bringing, not one but two cats into their home! Can Ito deal with this new hell about to descend on his new home?

The Lowdown

Junji Ito, the horror mangaka famous for such works as Uzumaki, and Gyo turns his pen and brush not to the terrifying fiction of his imagination, but rather to the mundane, real horrors and hilarity that living with cats can be.

Who Is It For

Do you like Cats? Dark Humour? Or even just Slice of Life? This Manga is for you.

How Was It?

I’ll be blunt. Junji Ito’s Cat Diary is one of the most unique manga experiences I’ve ever had, a hysterical comedy whose over-the-top delivery, genuineness and attention to detail makes it a must read for anyone interested in some Real Slice-of-Life.

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Ito’s Cat diary is a riot to read. Ito’s commitment to using his horror stylings in expressing the small events of his now cat-dominated existence really sells the emotion of the scenes as the interplay between the horrific art and the mundane subject matter brings out a lot of subtle nuances that could be lost in less abstract or “artistic” autobiographical memoirs. Here though the horror-based art style allows Ito to convey senses of pettiness, fear, despair, and even love and affection really well. It’s like abstracting the “art” from the “story” allows the reader to see behind the scenes into the author’s life much more than any conventional art could ever hope to. The artistic veneer is so obviously blatant in this manga that unworking the seams to separate the “art” and the “story” becomes an almost easy task, allowing both the realism and the style to shine together and drawing out vast amounts of comedy as the apparent dissonance between the two parts begets something truly iconic. I’d almost call it “Artistic Irony.”

The actual tankobon is not so much a “diary” per say but a loose chronological anthology. Each chapter works as it’s own small vignette, dealing with all kinds of cat-related issues, from the internal politics of who rules the cat tower, to the rivalry of the humans snuggling the cats in their beds. Each vignette feels distinctly “real,” a mix of absurdly-minor details of cat life that only a cat-owner could know and a storyteller’s eye for story composition that makes this the most human (and most feline) feeling work I’ve read. Each gag is wonderfully drawn, and I found myself throwing my head back and laughing more than once while reading this short book.

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However there is a bit more to this book than just some wonderfully disturbing art and some funny storylines. Sprinkled throughout the volume are a number of quick interview questions, blurbs and even color photos of Yon & Mu, that really help in connecting the readers to the author. Small details like the intricacies of classic Japanese wood stoves, what Ito’s wife thought of the book, to what Ito does as part of his local town council are all subjects brought up. Brief as this scattershot look at Ito’s home life and Japanese life is, I found it endlessly fascinating, It felt like I was really getting to know him as a person, not just as the author of this work. My only real wish is that there was more to see and learn.

Final Thoughts

I have gushed a lot over this book in this review, and that is really because I find this work truly unique. Very few manga or graphic novels even attempt Non-fiction, and certainly not for the kind of small-scale narratives like living life with cats. Even as a person not well acquainted with pet-life, the reality of Ito’s first hand experience really shines through. By the end I feel like I’ve gotten to know Ito and Yon & Mu as people/ felines, while also laughing my socks off at Ito’s deft touch of using “horror” for comedy. This is one book I can heartily recommend. It’s totally worth it.

“It’s a wonderful thing for stuff to just be normal, don’t you think?”

What do our scores mean?

Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu was published in English by Kodansha Comics, on October 27, 2015, translated by Stephen Paul. The original work was created by Junji Ito. (who else?)

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