Itoh Junji’s Cat Diary

cat diary cover
I’ve always had my suspicions about cats.

Whether its with they’re ever smug, holier than thou attitudes or that ever creeping sense that they’re always up to something, at times making you think just much of the film Cats and Dogs was actually fiction or not – The fact that British milk company Cravendale recently released this advert didn’t help my suspicions either:

Yet this is a view that, paranoid it may be, Japanese horror mangaka Itoh Junni [whose works include Uzumaki, the Souchi series and shibito no koiwazurai amongst others] also relays in his part autobiographical one volume manga called [imaginably enough] Junji Itoh’s Cat Diary.

This 10 chapter series, first published in 2009, follows the trails and tribulations of J-san[no prizes for guessing who this is] as his otherwise ordered life as a horror mangaka is suddenly invaded by a pair of cats – one of them being the surprisingly cute and otherwise normal Muu.
However its when J-san’s fiancé A-ko [and sufferer of the worst case of Young Bloods Disease I’ve ever seen] brings home Yon, the former pet cats of her parents that…..well…..

dont worry. its not like you were planning on sleeping any time soon.......

The fact that one of his distinguishing marks is a trio of spots that bare more than a passing resemblance to a skull, that sets off Itoh Junji’s horror writing narrative and drawing talent, taking otherwise normal situations and making them out as though they were from one of his horror manga – from playing with the two cats, to trying to find Yon when he runs away.

and yet its paradoxically this style that adds a sense of the absurd to J-sans actions, and actually making the scenes all the more humorous. And there is the key good thing about this – the very fact that this is the very kind of real life events that have happened to so many cat owners around the world, that enables the reader of this this serial to relate with j-san and a-ko through their trails and tribulations.

Additionally its this manga also givess Junji Itoh the ability to show that he’s capable of doing more that gore and gruesome scenes – in fact a lot of his background and renditions of both himself and his family are clear and well detailed, and in no way detracting from the overall feel of the story and events happening therein – even if said scenes include scenes of cat poop and frozen cat snot [no seriously!].

At the end of the day though this manga is both in part a letter to all cat owners but also a chance for Junji Itoh to branch out from his traditional horror roots – a feat that only a rare few mangaka have been able to achieve without alienating their fans both past and present.

If your a cat lover, or know someone who is, or looking for a dark, well written comedy/ slice of life, then this is one to look out for.

Just don’t let Tiddles see you reading it.

Itoh Junji’s Cat Diary has been published in english by Kodansha comics and is available either in physical print or in digital format from either the digital comic distributor comixology, or from either amazon’s kindle books, ItunesBarns and nobles [for the nook] or for kobobooks.com.

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The future of digital manga

If like me, you regualry following anime news network [www.animenewsnetwork.com you will have notice this recent news item:

37 Japanese publishers are collaborating to set up a joint portal site for North American anime fans this year. The tentatively named J Manga Portal Site will digitally distribute manga whose rights are held by each of the companies. Shueisha Managing Director Kazuhiko Torishima outlined the plans for the site during a talk at the Denshi Shoseki Comic Summit in Tokyo’s Akihabara UDX building on Friday.

The publishers involved include Akita Shoten, Kadokawa Shoten, Kodansha, Shueisha, and Shogakukan. Other publishers include Akaneshinsha, ASCII Media Works, East Press, Ichijinsha, Enterbrain, Inc., Oakla Publishing Co., Ltd., Ohzora Publishing Co. , Gakken, Kasakura Shuppansha, Gentosha Comics, Inc., Jitsugyo no Nihon Sha, Ltd., June-Net, Shogakukan-Shueisha Production, Shodensha, Shonen Gahosha Co., Shinshokan Publishing, Shinchosha, Takeshobo, Tatsumi Publishing Co., Ltd. , Tokuma Shoten, Nihonbungeisha, Hakusensha, Fujimi Shobo, Fusosha, Futabasha, France Shoin, Bunkasha Publishing Co., Ltd., Houbunsha, Magazine House, Media Factory, LEED Publishing Co., Ltd., and Libre Publishing Co., Ltd.
The publishers aim to open a beta version of the site within the year, and the site is slated to start full distribution next March. The publisher cannot announce which titles and how many titles they will put on the site yet.

quite an impressive number of publishers, including some [Kodansha, Shueisha, and Shogakukan] who already have US ties [ Delray manga and VUIZ media repsectively]

I do hope that this project does take off and [ providing that they dont region lock this portal to the US] they least put more than just their pet manga titles on the site.

And as to either this will this lead to the end of scanlations as we know it? time as always, will tell…….