Plum Crazy! Tales of a Tiger-Striped Cat, Vol. 1

By Natsumi Hoshino. Released in Japan as “Kijitora Neko no Koume-san” by Shonen Gahosha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Neko Panchi. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Nan Rymer.

Cat manga have been around in North America for a very long time, but never in any great number. Fans with a long memory will recall the years Dark Horse put out What’s Michael? (which I desperately wish would get a re-release), and Vertical has recently been releasing the adorable Chi’s Sweet Home. Japan loves their cats. Japan loves their cats so much, in fact, that one company has a magazine devoted only to cat manga, Neko Panchi. Technically classified as josei, it runs the gamut from supernatural cat manga, to Edo-period cat manga to funny cat manga to cat manga with romance (between humans, I hasten to add). There’s something for everyone. And now we have this title, the story of a cat owned by a young teenage boy and his ditzy mother, and her travails when a new kitten is added to the family. If you like cute cats, you will not be disappointed.

That said, apologies if this review seems to be grasping for ways to fill out the word count. This is not the sort of title where you can spend time talking about the depth of the plot of the characters. We have: Plum, the titular cat, who alternates between being the long-suffering older cat dealing with the excitable and troublemaking new kitten Snowball; Taku, a teenage boy who seems to be Plum’s owner, and loves cats but is for the most part responsible and level-headed; his youthful-looking mother, who loves cats and is for the most part NOT responsible or level-headed, but it’s fun watching her be a ditz; and Taku’s classmates, one of whom is an animal wikipedia whose job it is to provide exposition, and the other of whom owns a raccoon (yes, for once, it is an actual raccoon). As for the plot – cat gets into trouble, cat deals with kitten, cat celebrates Christmas, mom has dream sequence with endless cats of various kinds… the plot is cats.

This is cute, and cat fans will enjoy it. Most of the humor stems from either Snowball, the new kitten in the family, and Plum’s reaction to same, or the antics of Taku’s somewhat immature mother. The art fits the story well, with the cats drawn for maximum awwwww and the humans looking like they would if this ran in any other josei magazine like Feel Young. It’s apparently 16 volumes and running in Japan, which shows that it knows how to do the cat manga thing properly. I’m not sure if I’m down for 16 volumes of this, but I’ll definitely be picking up more of the series, as it’s a nice light snack of a manga to read after you’ve taken in something heavy. All cat lovers should enjoy this.