Monday, August 23, 2010

Manga Monday: Cute kitten manga isn't always for kids

Slice of life manga is becoming a more popular genre, especially as the manga reading population has more understanding of life in Japan.  Manga readers also don’t seem to ‘outgrow’ slice of life manga as quickly as magical girl or shonen.  Because of this, publishers are finally starting to bring more titles over to the US, and Chi’s Sweet Home is a welcome addition.

Even though the point of view for this story is a kitten, the target audience isn’t children.  The story is certainly simple enough for a grade-schooler, but the dry humor more aims at adults.  Of course, in Japan, the idea of  a grown person reading a comic book about a kitten isn’t as strange as it is here.

One of the fun parts of the book is that Chi sees the world like a kitten.  She mostly doesn’t understand what the humans are saying (eventually she starts to learn words like ‘yummy’ and such, just like a dog learns ‘walk'), and the humans have to guess at what Chi’s trying to get across.  One of the cutest stories revolves around the litter pan, which Chi finds very fun to play in, and doesn’t want to make messy by peeing in it.

What’s also nice is that the family is realistic.  Youhei, the young son, is very well behaved, but can be brought to tears when he thinks something is unfair.  Mom stays home with the young boy, who acts like a (well-behaved) youngster.  He probably understands Chi the best, since he’s young, and some of their fiascoes run parallel.  The father works from home, as some kind of artist (a lot of manga seem to have characters who are manga artists, don’t they?), and perhaps becomes the most attached to Chi in the family, because she’s someone to keep him company during the day.  

Another sign that the book is aimed at an older audience is what’s going on with the family.  Most children of the ‘read a comic about a kitten’ age wouldn’t really care that the family might be evicted because of the cat, and about all of the problems that occur because of this.

Chi’s Sweet Home is a very sweet story about a real family, who ends up with two children instead of one.  It’s certainly a slice of life, or at least a slice of a kitten’s life.

Highs:  Interaction between Chi and Youhei.  Chi finally deciding that this can be home too.

Lows:  A little simple and repetitive at times

Verdict:  Certainly not high literature, but a fun, relaxing read.

Further Reading:  Azumanga Daioh, Honey and Clover

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