Showing posts with label chi's sweet home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chi's sweet home. Show all posts

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chi's Sweet Home Volume 2

By Konami Kanata. Released in Japan by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Morning. Released in North America by Vertical.

Another volume of Chi, and it's just as cute. Chi's personality is easily identifiable to cat lovers, especially her stubbornness combined with her intractability. Much of what makes this manga fun is seeing the various expressions of surprise and happiness Kanata-san draws on Chi's face - along with the expressions of being incredibly pissed off. Seeing Chi defend her home from interlopers was highly amusing.

Speaking of said interloper, we get a new character introduced here in the form of a huge black cat that's wandering the neighborhood stealing food. At first the cat looks to be some sort of villain character, but as time goes on and Chi meets him a few more times, it's clear that Blackie (which I believe is the cat's name) is going to be more of a mentor figure for Chi. Already we're seeing the difference between kittens like Chi with very strong ties to their owner, and cats like Blackie who strive to be 'independent'.

Chi does develop a bit here. As time has gone by and her life with the Yamadas becomes more dominant, she's no longer troubled by constant memories of her old family. Though we do see her instinctual need for mother love pop up at times. Likewise, at one point Chi escapes from the Yamada's yard, and we suspect another long 'where am I?' arc, but Chi has learned from past adventures, and is able to quickly find her way back.

If there's a fault to this manga, it's not one of the writer or publisher. It's just that Chi's Sweet Home can be a bit much to take in one volume's sitting. I can see how insanely popular this is in the pages of Weekly Morning, where it runs in between such titles as Vagabond and Kinou Nani Tabeta?. But I get exhausted reading 150 pages of pure kitten love. I have similar issues with other 'one mode' manga which serve a similar function in other weekly magazines, such as Bobobobo-bobobo in Jump. (Weekly Morning was also the home of What's Michael?, so it's no stranger to cat manga. Even though What's Michael? is a lot weirder than Chi will ever be.)

However, the collection is incredibly sweet, and the coloring and translation are top notch. (I've grown used to Chi's baby accent, mostly as she seems to be using it less and less as the books go on.) I would happily recommend this collection to any family who wants their kids to have a nice comic to read, or to those who like cute gag manga, or just to cat lovers.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chi's Sweet Home Volume 1

By Konami Kanata. Released in Japan by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Morning. Released in North America by Vertical.

We don't really see all that many cute animal manga over here. Neko Ramen, while it is a manga starring an animal, is not what I'd call cute. But Chi's Sweet Home is primarily about a cute l'il cat and her sense of wonder in everyday life. Japan loves its cat manga - there's a manga magazine out there that's entirely devoted to cat stories - but Chi is a cut above these, managing to just avoid being cloying and precious. Just. It does come close at times.

We're introduced to Chi, one of a family of kittens who is being led around the neighborhood by their mother. Unfortunately, Chi is easily distracted and winds up separated from the rest of her family. One thing the author does very well is to convey Chi not forgetting about her old family - Chi's motivation for the first half of this volume is to get out and get home, and the only thing stopping her are the many distractions along the way.

Incidentally, the way that Chi's naming is conveyed is a tribute to Ed Chavez's excellent translation. This is not a manga that needs footnotes or translation pointers, being primarily very simple - except for the chapter dealing with Chi being named (and toilet trained). Kanata's art and the dialogue, though, make it easy to note through simple repetition that 'chi' is the Japanese word for 'pee', and that while she's being toilet trained (the young boy in the house is as well), she learns to respond to this name. (Chi also means small, so I figure that it won't be a stigma on the cat later in life.)

I was also pleased with how well the family Chi ends up with were presented. Managing to have character traits yet not be caricatures, the family has a weight to them that pleases me. The worry with these sorts of stories is that the humans are just there to be the straight men for the animals, yet here you see the Yamada family as a young couple with young child, living their own lives which happen to have a cat in them. The mother seems more stressed out and worried about the 'no pets' policy, while the dad seems more laid-back and accepting (loved the gag about his vintage jeans). And the child is written as your typical 2-3 year old kid.

This manga was colored and flipped for its North American release, but you'd never guess it. It feels natural and smooth, and the color is great. I understand that the artist approved it herself, and was also full of praise for it. I also approve of the decision to do so - despite appearing in the men's magazine Weekly Morning, there's nothing in Chi that can't be read by a family, and marketing this book to a ) families, b) cat lovers, then c) manga geeks makes perfect sense. I hope it does very well for Vertical, and look forward to further cute cat adventures.