Everybody Loves Cats! – Cat Paradise Vol. 1 Review
Title: Cat Paradise Volume 1
Art/Story: Yuji Iwahara
Genre: Action, Supernatural, Shonen
Rating: Older Teen (16+, rated for language and mild violence)
Cats are cute! I love cats! Everyone loves cats!
I’m guessing that was author, Yuji Iwahara’s logic when creating this story. He even mentions in his commentary that he has put aside his usual grand themes, and gone back to basics with a school setting and talking animals. It certainly sounds a lot different from the more sinister series that he has also been involved in (such as Darker Than Black).
It all begins at Mataba Academy, a boarding school which allows students to bring their cats with them. Clumsy and ditzy Yumi Hayakawa has travelled to this school so she can share her time with her cat, Kansuke (a four year old mixed breed), and loves nothing more than dressing him up in a variety of hand-knitted sweaters and other home made outfits, much to Kansuke’s disgust.
As Yumi loses her way in her rush to the entrance ceremony, it is the despairing Kansuke that eventually leads her into an encounter with a mysterious boy who tells her she will find out his name soon enough. She arrives just in time for the introduction of the student council, the other reason why Mataba Academy is so special. The six stunningly attractive members of the council are incredibly popular amongst the other students, and one of them is the boy that Yumi ran into…
And so the first two chapters continue to pile on the cliche, as it is revealed that the academy has been formed to select a number of “chosen pairs”, an owner and their cat, who will battle side by side to protect the world from a formidable fox demon that has been sealed beneath the academy for the past 100 years.
Thankfully, after the scene is set, Cat Paradise gradually hints at the possibility of a storyline. As Kansuke and Yumi come face to face with a “murderous demonic minion” who is intent on releasing his former master and returning him to his former glory. With demons and duels, the first volume of Cat Paradise may well be setting up for something far more epic to come.
The art is certainly above par, with this volume also coming with 9 beautiful colour pages to start the story, which includes a stunning 2 page spread of the flaming and fearsome antagonist, the fox demon Kaen. The non-colour pages are equally well drawn, with the action scenes flowing brilliantly with the images, and never feeling static or overly confusing. Artist Yuji Iwahari uses a lot more shading than most manga artists, a technique that leaves a lingering darkness behind the storyline, and makes demons appear all the more chilling and ferocious.
It may start slow and clichéd, but Cat Paradise appears to be building towards something far more substantial than I could have imagined from the first chapter, with the promise of plenty more demons and plenty more fighting, it offers exactly what a shonen manga should, and is certainly worth investigating, if not for the story, for the cats. Everybody loves cats.
Try this if you liked: Inu Yasha, Soul Eater.