A Man and His Cat Volume 3
It’s around this time in a manga series with a relatively simple premise — a widower who’s tired of life finds comfort in an older cat that no one else wanted and enjoys the basics of having a pet — that I start wondering how the author is going to keep it going with descending into mere repetition. In A Man and His Cat volume 3, Umi Sakurai tells some longer stories about pet ownership as well as delving much deeper into Mr. Kanda’s emotional history. (An ending author’s note explains that the series had moved to a new publication from Twitter, which allowed for more space.)
The four-page comics, or even one-page strips, are well-suited for cute moments, as when Fukumaru wants more food or he gets in a box or they play together. The first longer story, though, deals with a more substantial topic: neutering. There’s even an unusual take on it: Mr. Kanda not wanting to be separated from his cat in concern over whether something might happen to him. Seeing them snuggle together, the affection visible between them, makes this a real comfort read, heart-warming and reassuring.
As for other cast members, we’ve already seen Mr. Kanda’s dog-loving friend, but we’re getting to know more about his co-workers. In particular, there’s a younger man who’s inspired by Kanda’s playing piano. Moriyama is so inspired, in fact, that he invites Kanda to a concert without knowing how emotionally fraught this might be. (Kanda was a renowned pianist before his wife’s death.) There’s a bit of drama, but since all that happens without the cat present, it’s wiped away fairly quickly. It does give our lead character more depth, though, and illustrates how much of a healing presence the cat has been as Kanda learns to open up to others.
Moriyama is also crushing on Mr. Kanda, thinking he’s so handsome even though he’s middle-aged, and I love this aspect. Sakurai draws Kanda as attractive and confident in himself, and it’s great to see as a change from the usual pretty boys that are so much more common in US manga. I love his suits!
The last few chapters show us Kanda’s self-proclaimed rival Hibino, who is also acquiring a cat through the most opposite possible method: his manipulative mother dumps one on him now that she’s bored of it. Hibino is over-the-top and dramatic and obsessive, and comparing and contrasting how a pet mellows him out is a great way to expand the series. Although not a cat person myself, I’m eager to read future volumes.