By Konami Kanata
From Konami Kanata, the author of Chi’s Sweet Home, FukuFuku’s first volume is a rather pleasant, quick read. It is the comic equivalent of cat videos on the internet for all of the roughly one-hundred fifty pages. The closest to a conflict in the book is the elderly woman, who is given no name thus far, adjusting to now having a much smaller companion in her home. Otherwise the primary source of tension is when the elderly woman and FukuFuku have adorable scuffles.
The book can get a touch tedious as FukuFuku and the elderly woman are the only two characters for the first half of the book. There’s seldom, if ever, an internal narration from FukuFuku, who mostly scampers about. The book breaks up the monotony in the latter half by introducing new characters such as a boy and his dog, and other cats who also have yet to be given names, and it is not entirely clear when if ever they will be seen again. That said there is more to FukuFuku than meets the eye. The book has a warm nostalgic feeling to it even for those who might not have owned a cat. There’s a tenderness the elderly woman shows towards FukuFuku and the book itself is at least partially driven by this feeling.
It really must be stressed that this book is by no means a bad read, especially for a manga operating off the beaten path. There is no cosmic conflict involving teenagers who must save the world just a simple tale of an elderly and her pet, nor is there any melodrama. Kanata has no pretenses about her world or chracters, they feel very human even when they’re not. FukuFuku herself is the best example of this: she often misbehaves by clawing at things when she should not be, and the elderly woman expresses her frustration. It’s a rather charming read. There is a sort of tension that many pet owners, or really anyone can relate too, and that’s coexisting with other people or other living creatures. The clashing of personalities, such as between the brash yet, at some points literally warm kitten FukuFuku, and the kind, elderly woman who must learn to adjust to FukuFuku’s general mischief,while cohabiting is a near universal concept. That is also a huge part of the appeal of this book and why cat manga can endear some people to them.
As the story continues, the elderly woman’s endearing feelings towards FukuFuku gives a glimpse into the dynamics of their relationship. The elderly woman and FukuFuku both adore one another although they both get on each other’s nerves rather frequently. Such is cohabitation. But FukuFuku Kitten Tales doesn’t paint a rosy, perfect picture, which also part of the appeal of the manga. The point is, there are layers to FukuFuku, it’s just done in a cleverly simple way. The best example of this is when a chapter is dedicated to a parody of Alice in Wonderland: the chapter’s purpose is to give insight into the elderly woman’s view of FukuFuku, and her feelings towards the dynamic in their relationship, on top of how she thinks FukuFuku views the world. Near the end of the chapter FukuFuku glows, not literally, when the elderly woman gives her some milk once she has become tired from her adventures. FukuFuku then grows in size which symbolizes how their different sizes allow them both to view the world differently.
Volume one of FukuFuku Kitten Tales is the kind of story anyone can read and enjoy, young or old. There is nothing objectionable in it nor is it a particularly tension driven read. Ultimately, Kitten Tales is just a simple story of an elderly woman and her cat. Frankly, there is nothing wrong with that.
Review copy provided by Vertical Comics.