Monday, April 1, 2013

Manga Monday: A forgotten Tokoypop license that deserved more

Taisho, Takana-san and all the rest come back in one final volume before Tokyopop's collapse in Neko Ramen Volume 4: We're Going Green! Kind Of...

Neko Ramen Volume 4: We're Going Green! Kind Of... is, of course, the sequel to Neko Ramen Volume 3: A Cat After All.  Check out the review for Volume 1 here, and Volume 3 here.  Otherwise, read on!

Here, Taisho's ramen shop spirals farther and farther out of control. From Zero-Gravity Ramen (balanced on two magnets) to Air-Brush Ramen (think spray-tan) to Centrifuge Ramen (just a bad idea overall), our favorite feline restauranteur is hardly running out of ideas for his daily specials.

We also get visits from old friends. Perhaps one of the best strips features Taisho's father, back to encourage his son to try the family business of modeling again. Tanaka-san's father is back as well, running Taisho's curry shop, with limited success.

Again, some of the best parts are the mini-stories at the end. One focusing on Taisho's assistant Tacchi, and the other showing a day in the life of Mii-chan, they are a welcome break from the gag strips that make up the rest of the volume.

But most of the volume is just the strips that fans have come to love. Of course they're silly. Of course they can get tiresome after a bit. That's simply how 4-panel gag comics are. But between the more artful manga of Osamu Tezuka or Kaoru Mori, sometimes it's nice to read something that doesn't need terribly much brainpower.

As with many of Tokyopop's licenses, Neko Ramen has disappeared from the consciousness of the average manga reader, and is almost guaranteed not to receive a license rescue. It's a shame, since everyone needs a little bit of silliness in their lives, and how better to get it than a noodle-wielding kitty?

Highs: An egg-dispensing gachapon machine is pure genius.

Lows: I wouldn't read the whole volume in one go, since it does lose something after a bit.

Verdict: One of the few Tokyopop properties I was really sad to see go unfinished when it shuttered, copies can still be found quite cheaply online for anyone who is interested.

Further Reading: Chi's Sweet Home, Crayon Shin-Chan

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