It’s just a few days before Christmas and you think you’ve got it all under control. Food shopping is done, presents are all bought and wrapped.
Or at least so you thought. Turns out you forgot someone. A work colleague. An aunty you just found out is coming to visit. The wife. The inconsiderate bastards have turned up with a present for you, and you’ve got nothing to give them in return. Plus they’re diabetic tea-totalers, so the usual chocolate and/or booze option is out of the window. In other words: you’re screwed.
Thankfully, I have the answer for you: Chi’s Sweet Home by Konami Kanata.
“What?” I hear you say. “Have you finally lost your judgmental, drug-addled limey mind? Is it so full of tea and crumpets that sense can no longer penetrate? I have read about you on the internets, and it appears the stories are true. You expect me to give my poor unsuspecting boss/aunty/spouse some of your mind-rotting, big-eyed manga filth!? And at Christmas to boot!”
Yes. Yes I do. But let me be clear: while Chi’s Sweet Home does indeed feature big-eyes, they belong to an adorable kitten. And who likes kittens? EVERYBODY. Everybody, that is, apart from soulless monsters that should be shunned at this time of the year anyway. And as far as filth is concerned there is little here, unless you include the contents of a litter tray, which does play a fairly prominent role in the first volume.
Running since 2004, Chi’s sweet home is the adorable story of a small kitten that becomes separated from his mother and taken in by a typically Japanese family. A huge hit in Japan it spawned two anime series and a vast amount of merchandise, most of which my partner seemingly bought when we visited Tokyo back in 2008. So I was thrilled when Vertical snapped up the rights to an English translation earlier this year, and review copies of the first volumes turned up on my doorstop – a feeling that lasted fleetingly before my aforementioned partner snatched them out of hands.
Having now regained them, I can confirm my initial suspicions were true – Chi’s Sweet Home is a perfectly formed series of short and sweet books, with appeal way beyond the scope of the ‘traditional’ manga fan. Told from the perspective of the eponymous kitty, it presents situations that all cat owners will be all too familiar with in a refreshing and light-hearted way. In fact it does this so efficiently that, by giving you a view into internal cat-logic, it almost doubles as a kitten care manual. But most importantly it’s a huge truckload of beautifully presented fun, and the perfect stocking filler for anyone with a love of cats, regardless of whether they’ve ever picked up a comic book before.
And while we are on the subject of Vertical books and Christmas gifts, some of you may remember my review earlier in the year of the first volume of Twin Spica. Since then I’ve caught up with the second and third volumes, but rather than writing reviews you can hear me rambling on about them over on Ed Sizemore’s Manga Out Loud podcast alongside a veritable A-List of panelists. In brief I’m still enjoying the series, despite it seemingly shifting its emphasis away from science fiction to concentrate on more mundane shoujo (manga aimed at teenage girls) drama. It’s a great last minute gift for the gutsy teen-girl in your life, though with a little bit of shower-scene and beach costume fanservice seemingly shoe-horned in to remind you it originally ran in a seinen magazine, it’s also the perfect gift for the otaku man-child in your life too.