Chi’s Sweet Home Vol. 1 (Vertical)

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Prepare for cuteness overload with this adorable new manga about the daily life of an ordinary housecat.

168 pgs. full color; $13.95

(W / A: Kanata Konami)
 
If you pick up a copy of Chi’s Sweet Home, be prepared for cuteness overload, because this manga is about the most adorable thing you will ever lay eyes on. The titular Chi is a wide-eyed, gray and white, barely-older-than-newborn kitten who loses her way on a walk through the park. She ends up getting rescued by Yohei, a quizzical preschooler whose parents agree to take Chi in until they can find her a suitable new home, since their apartment building doesn’t allow pets. But Chi is, of course, too precious for words, leaving the family powerless to do anything but accept this cuddly new member into their family.
 
Discovery is the theme for this first volume of Chi’s Sweet Home, as we follow Chi’s new life in a series of vignettes that show her first litter box training, her first bath, her first visit to a vet, her first cat toy, etc. And that’s all there is to it, really: there are no surreal asides or broad gags like in Makoto Kobayashi’s hilarious What’s Michael? (published by Dark Horse), no Garfield-esque sarcasm, no Heathcliffian shenanigans, just simple stories of a day in the life of an ordinary housecat. Take Jeffrey Brown’s Cat Getting Out of a Bag, up the artwork’s cuteness quotient, throw in some baby talk dialogue (“That was scarewy!”), and add just a tinge of melancholy (Chi spends the first several stories crying for her lost mommy), and you’ve got Chi’s Sweet Home in a nutshell.
 
Given my description, you’ve probably already figured out if you’ll find the whole thing to be either cloying or “awwwwww”-inducing. This book really only has two audiences, young children and obsessive cat people (full disclosure: I’m the latter, only not obsessive…okay, maybe a little), and both audiences should find themselves completely charmed by this series. (Some more black-hearted readers—yours truly included—will likely cringe at Chi’s baby talk, but fortunately, it’s used pretty sparingly.) The art is the chief component in the book’s appeal: writer/artist Konami Kanata’s work has a cartoony expressiveness captured by simple, streamlined linework, and the lush color palette (mostly pastels) really makes the artwork pop on the page.
 
Kanata serves up the stories in economical 8-page chunks (this first volume includes 20 such chapters), which is convenient as the book is best enjoyed in smaller doses rather than read all at once. (The producers of the animated version apparently realized this as well, as each episode runs a scant 3 minutes, including the theme song.) Vertical’s presentation of the book is top notch: in a nod to the book’s appeal to younger readers, the book is presented flopped (i.e. mirror-imaged to read left-to-right instead of the Japanese standard right-to-left), and the color printing (a first for the company’s manga line, I believe) reproduces the artwork beautifully. | Jason Green
 
Click here for more information on the Chi’s Sweet Home manga, and click here to watch free, legal, streaming episodes of Chi’s New Address, the second season of the Chi’s Sweet Home anime, courtesy of Crunchyroll.
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