Square Enix has been a powerhouse throughout its decades in the video game industry. The companies that make up the Japanese developer have been responsible for some of the most storied franchises – Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Kingdom Hearts, Tomb Raider, Deus Ex – the list goes on and on. When we got word last year that they were dipping their toes in the American manga business, I was curious to see what they would bring to the market, so it should have been obvious to me that this legendary brand’s first manga release in the States would be… a slice-of-life book about pet ownership.
Umi Sakurai’s A Man and His Cat, originally a Twitter comic before coming to print, revolves around a roly-poly cat who had given up on being adopted. His nontraditional looks kept potential buyers from picking him up, despite his discounted price. But one day, a piano teacher named Kanda decided to pick up the cat and give him a home, naming him Fukumaru. The two quickly build the strong bond between pet and owner and deal with the day-to-day foibles that go with owning a cat
The storytelling Sakurai does in this book is simple but nuanced. Each chapter takes 8-10 pages at most, making it a light, breezy read. Despite that, you do get to fill in a lot of blanks on both Fukumaru and Kanda’s backstories. It can be a little confusing at times as the writing puts you inside the heads of both of them, occasionally switching without warning. However, you learn as you read that the two of them are meeting at the perfect moment in their lives, filling emotional voids and becoming whole again.
Sakurai’s art style fits the book perfectly, managing to blend the cartoony, Garfield-like style of Fukumaru and the other pets that appear in the story with the more traditional style of Kanda and his coworkers. Even though Fukumaru is simply drawn, his expressions are wide-ranging, and the reader never has trouble figuring out what emotion Sakurai is trying to convey. Meanwhile, each human that shows up has their own unique look, pushing you to read future chapters to learn their stories.
If you’ve owned a pet before, you know how much joy it can bring to your life. With A Man and His Cat, Umi Sakurai has done a great job of translating that joy to the page. Square Enix has done an equally superb job with their debut on the manga stage. The high-quality print job and extra touches really elevate the book (the drawings of Kanda and Fukumaru on the inside covers are just too cute for words!) If you’re looking for an emotional pick-me-up or miss having a feline friend to pass the time with, you should definitely give this book a read.
In the pet shop he calls home, a chubby, homely cat whiles away the hours listening to coos of delight from potential pet parents…but he knows it’s not him they’re fussing over. Even as his price drops with each passing day, no one spares the kitty a glance. Having all but given up on life, the feline dejectedly awaits his first birthday, when he’ll officially be past his sell-by date. So when an older gentleman comes into the shop and wants to take him home, the kitten himself is most shocked of all! Will the man and the cat find what they’re looking for…in each other?Add to CartLearn More