by Konami Kanata; translated by Ed Chavez
published by Vertical; $13.95 US
Thanks to a gift from fellow reviewer Ed Sizemore, even though I didn’t like the first book of Chi’s Sweet Home, I read the second. And everything I disliked about the previous volume had been fixed!
This book was the “cute cat doing cute things” comic I’d come to expect from hearing others praise it. All of the out-of-place depressing “I miss my mom” stuff was gone. The overdone lisp in the cat’s internal voice had been minimized. Almost all of the exaggerated near-slapstick of hiding the cat from the neighbors was eliminated. (The situation does come up in a chapter or two here, but it’s handled at a reasonable level.)
Enough of what this comic isn’t. What is it? It’s 18 comfortably colored chapters of adorable cat behavior. Chi begs for people food (two of my favorite stories here). Chi doesn’t like water but is attracted by tub toys (another high point). Chi begs for attention or naps with the child or bothers dad at work or fights going to the vet. These are all very standard pet situations, but they’re drawn well, and the lovely pastel colors make them especially pleasant to relax with. This captures the joy and amusing frustration of pet ownership for those who can’t or don’t have one. Readers who do will love it even more.
There’s another character introduced in this volume, a free-roaming adult black cat who invades Chi’s space and shows her another way to behave and to relate to humans. In contrast to Chi’s kittenish cuteness, it’s almost frightening, The Cat Who Walks by Himself, to evoke Kipling. I don’t particularly like this cat, but I don’t think I’m supposed to. I’m still curious as to how much more we see of him and why. One other cat makes a guest appearance in a bonus chapter. FukuFuku is the star of an earlier series by Konami Kanata, drawn in a more minimal style and having less of a personality (at least in this appearance). That history is explained in an additional text note, a helpful addition.
Overall, if you haven’t tried this series yet, I recommend passing on the first book and starting here. Just as many TV shows don’t hit their stride until several episodes in, this series doesn’t demonstrate its full appeal until after the situation has been established. You won’t miss anything skipping that uneven setup.