Story & Art by Taiyo Matsumoto
Translation & English Adaptation by Micheal Arias
Touch-Up Art & Lettering by Deron Bennett
Cover & Graphic Design by Adam Grano
Edited by Mike Montesa
There are few places in the world as breathtaking as the Louvre. The museum is home to a plethora of artwork that spans through centuries, each with its own unique history and significance. With such an overwhelming presence, many people get lost in the Louvre’s halls, almost as if the building has a life of its own. This allure is embodied in Taiyo Matsumoto’s Cats of the Louvre, a story that intertwines the fantastical and reality within the Louvre’s historic walls.
As the title entails, Cats of the Louvre focuses on a group of stray cats that live in the attic of the Louvre itself. Among these cats is a young kitten name Snowbebe who has the power to enter the inside of paintings. For Snowbebe, the Louvre and its art serve as an escape from his emptiness, allowing him to search for the new life that he seeks. At its core, Cats of the Louvre is a coming of age story, having the reader ponder what it means to be fulfilled. Unlike Snowbebe, some of his fellow cats simply wish to have quiet lives, while others desire freedom at all costs. As Snowbebe interacts with the world around him, we see his idealized world become more ambiguous, forcing him to question his own desires as well.
While the adventures of Snowbebe and his fellow cats take the spotlight, his journey intersects with the people that work in the Louvre. Among them is Cecile, a tour guide with a passion for art, and Marcel, as security guard whose sister went missing after entering a painting. For the majority of the story, we see these two characters scour the Louvre’s history for the painting in which Marcel’s sister entered. While the story of Snowbebe centers on the pursuit of the unknown, the manga’s human story-line focuses on observing reality itself. To figure out which painting Marcel’s sister could have entered, Cecile needs to understand the emotions that the paintings themselves evoke, and uses the world around her as a reference for that behavior. It provides a humanistic undertone to the story as a whole, and serves an apt contrast to the manga’s conceptual elements.
Depicting a structure as historically significant as the Louvre would be difficult for any artist, but Taiyo Matsumoto manages to bring the museum alive in his artwork. Every panel is meticulously detailed and is able to perfectly capture the essence of the building and its artwork. From a design perspective, Matsumoto opts to give the cats humanoid forms in their isolated scenes. The human-like appearance of the cats allows for their emotions to be more easily conveyed to the reader, and the choice to depict Snowbebe as a child further establishes his innocence in seeking his life’s purpose. As the story progresses, Matsumoto’s artwork becomes increasingly abstract. When Snowbebe enters the world of paintings, the art breaks from the confines of realism alongside it. This beautiful choice adds layers to the manga’s narrative, making Cats of the Louvre all the more fascinating.
Cats of the Louvre is a great manga that perfectly combines the pursuit of life with the awe of the artistic world. Its emotional journey encapsulates readers on every page, as it ventures from the confines of reality into the abnormal world. Whether you are drawn to it for Matsumoto’s gorgeous art or its intriguing cat adventures, this is a story that you won’t regret reading.