Konami Kanata's "Chi's Sweet Home,
" a manga about an adorable adopted cat named Chi, is that kind of manga that's deceptively cute. You're drawn in by the simple but expressive art. You empathize with the family that finds Chi. You fall in love with Chi herself, from her mood swings to absolute ignorance of the way real life works. And then, at some point, you get a quick reminder that, as retailer Chris Butcher has said
, "it's about a kitten learning to forget the face of its mother. And then there's hi-jinks! It's really good
." Butcher is correct -- Chi is adorable and a nice antidote to the inanity of LOLcats, but sometimes it's a real punch in the stomach. After the jump, we've got five reasons to read "Chi's Sweet Home."
1. CHI IS HILARIOUS
She's young, just a few months old, and doesn't quite have the hang of the "understanding what's going on" thing sometimes. In this sequence, she's dreaming about what happens when she goes outside. It's absurd, but Chi's facial expressions and cartoony body language completely sells the nightmare. Plus, nested dogs is pretty terrifying, and I love dogs.
2. IT REALLY UNDERSTANDS CATS
I'm far from a cat person, but I've spent my time around plenty of them. That thing cats do when they pointedly ignore you, and then decide to get your attention when they realize you're ignoring them? Kanata nails that perfectly, and Chi's flower-scented saunter is fantastic.
3. EVERYONE IS FAIR GAME
Yohei is there for Chi to play with. Mom is there to freak out about Chi peeing on various things. Dad is there to take Chi to the vet while wearing a disguise. Chi is... well, Chi is a kitten, and kittens really aren't that smart. Nobody in "Chi's Sweet Home" fills the role of the straight man in this comedy group. They all have turns being wacky, sometimes in a wholly understandable way. Everyone's on equal ground.
4. IT'S TOUCHING (CHI IS AN ORPHAN)
In the first chapter, Chi gets lost while traveling with her mother and finds her way to her new family. For a long while, you get these little moments where Chi remembers that she needs to find her mom. Sometimes this leads to fun trips to the outside. Sometimes, it's just straight up sad. There are even chapters where Chi's sadness is foreshadowed, which just multiplies the impact.
5. IT IS INCREDIBLY ADORABLE
For every moment when Kanata reminds you that Chi is a lost, orphaned kitten, there are several dozen that more than make up for that brief gut punch of sadness. Yohei and Chi are more like siblings than owner and pet, and this leads to plenty of hilarity. "Chi's Sweet Home" is a great read, and the entertaining ones makes all the poignant ones worth it. Ultimately, Chi could have had a sad end, but instead, she's with a family that loves her.