A Man and His Cat Volume 6
The man of the title, Mr. Kanda, has performance anxiety. He used to be a famous pianist, but he can’t stand to be on stage any more. He works with another man, Moriyama, who dreams of being in a band… and his dreams are coming true. He’s got a group and a performance. Only his bandmates are apparently total jerks, as none of them bother to join him, stranding him on stage alone.
Mr. Kanda manages to overcome his own fears to help, joining Moriyama on stage with some others. Friendship, in other words, allows us to overcome our own issues by helping those important to us. And that’s the reassuring message of this series.
“Just the sight of him,” thinks Moriyama, “makes my heart grow calm.” Me too, with this book. He later thinks, “Compared to a show put on by a well-rehearsed band, I’m sure our lack of preparation came through here and there.” Yeah, probably. I mean, this is comics, real life doesn’t work like that. But this is about reassurance and trying hard and caring for others and allowing ourselves to draw strength from friends, and that makes the fantasy work.
Other chapters in this volume involve another pianist traveling, and Mr. Kanda looking after his cat in his absence. Fukumaru, his own cat, is coping with the results of his time being lost. He wants to keep eating, and he craves his daddy’s company. He also struggles with jealousy over the other cat’s presence.
More potent is the jealousy various other pianists feel, which keeps the storylines going. In the author’s afterword, they talk about this being both a cat manga and a music manga, which is why various other musicians keep being introduced, although all of them are either influenced by or competitive with Mr. Kanda. Turns out he’s quite the important figure, although he’s most concerned with being snuggled by his cat. It’s those quiet moments that make this series one I keep following.