When it comes right down to it, who doesn’t love cats? As a lover of animals big and small, I remember badly wanting a cat when I was growing up. My family had dogs and don’t get me wrong, dogs are amazing animals but there’s just something so unique about the feline species. They have the capacity to show lots of love and affection and, at the drop of the hat, look at you with such contempt as if to say, “You know you can’t live without me. Feed me, slave.” When I got a job and moved out on my own, the first thing I did was adopt a cat. The experience then all through today has been thoroughly unforgettable. In the nine years since Bastila became my friend for life, the experiences I’ve shared with her are an absolute treasure.
It comes to no surprise that there are like-minded people out in the world. The only difference between me and manga artist Hoshino Natsumi is that she’s a talented artist who uses the visual medium to tell fun stories about her cats (whereas I just resort to showing people my many, many cat photos). Plum Crazy! features the daily life of Plum, a cat owned by teenager Taku and his mother. Although we get a good number of glimpses into the life of a single mother and her son, make no mistake that Plum is the real star of the show. Plum basks in the life of total cat luxury: she’s got a family that loves her, gets regular meals, and spends the day either hunting or sleeping. Her life gets turned upside-down, however, when she rescues a seemingly abandoned kitten. After being nursed back to health, the kitten (named “Snowball” by Taku’s mother) reveals himself to be a bit of a hellion who loves to bite poor Plum at every turn.
Reading through Natsumi’s work made me feel like she had a camera hidden in my home. This is because her stories are so relatable and would be familiar to any cat owner. Taku himself is the more level-headed of the pair and is the target of Plum’s gracious affections. His mother, on the other hand, is considerably more aloof and carefree. Her behavior and demeanor with Plum and Snowball comes from wanting the cats to take as strong a liking to her as they do with Taku. This causes her to have a lighter hand with the cats and, at times, encouraging their behavior. The story that I mentioned to be the most relatable involves Snowball getting caught eating and sucking on the mother’s wool sweaters. While Taku says that the cat must be disciplined by taking the animal to the scene of the crime for a scolding, his mother is unable to do this out of concern for hurting the animal’s feelings. As a first-time cat owner, this is something I’ve struggled with because I just can’t stay mad at my cat. She could have been disciplined better but damn it all, I love her to pieces all the same!
What really stands out in this manga are Natsumi’s beautiful and adorable drawings of Plum and Snowball. Modeled after her actual cats, she does a fantastic job balancing realism with cute, cartoony visuals. In their relaxed state, the design of both Plum and Snowball are pretty much grounded in reality. When they express emotions, be it anger, jealousy, wariness, or panic, she gives them more of a creative license which adds emotion as they run, scamper, frolic, and strike. For the better part of the manga’s 220 pages, I found myself “aww”-ing on every page. Seriously, the book is so cute it made me want to punch a hole in the wall. I even found myself calling out to my cats at the end of each chapter so I could hug them, squeeze them, and call them George. I even went as far as picking them up for a hug against their will (I have so much in common with Taku’s mother) much to their noticeable annoyance.
Plum Crazy! Tales of a Tiger-Striped Cat is a must read for cat lovers. A wonderful, humane sweetness permeates throughout the entire book that filled me with the warm, comfortable fuzzies. And Plum Crazy! has the capacity to delight a lot of people because of its family (and cat) friendly content. Fun for all ages, Hoshino Natsumi’s manga will have you falling in love with your cats all over again.
Title: Plum Crazy! Tales of a Tiger-Striped Cat volume 1
Author: Hoshino Natsumi
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Media: Digital Download
Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life
Release Date: 07/04/2017
Purchased Or Received For Review? Received for Review
Where to buy: RightStuf, Amazon