Chi’s Sweet Home is a real one-of-a-kind manga. It’s not every day you find a manga that can entertain children and adults equally well, without either feeling patronized. It’s adorable—but not in the way that can be annoying—as well as refreshing and sweet.
Chi is a little kitten who gets separated from her mother and siblings, wandering through the streets until a little boy named Yohei finds her. Yohei’s mother takes Chi back to their apartment, but only for the time being. Pets aren’t allowed and Yohei’s mother makes numerous phone calls to find the feline a new home. No one wants another cat, and soon Yohei and his parents find themselves falling in love with the kitten. They decide to keep her, but they can’t let the apartment’s super know.
While Chi meows at the people, we the audience can read what she’s thinking. She thinks in a baby voice—like replacing R’s and L’s with W’s—which might sound as if it would be overmuch, yet it actually works very well here. It’s cute and fun seeing the world from the perspective of a cat—from her fascination with “toys” such as shoelaces and plastic bags, to her horror at taking a bath. For a while the family struggles to toilet train her, with Chi happily going everywhere except the litter box, which she’s convinced is either a bed or a playpen. “Chi” is actually a Japanese word that can be used to mean “urine,” and after all the discussion of where she needs to urinate, she ends up responding to the word “Chi” and it becomes her name.
Cat lovers ought to especially get a kick out of this series, because Konami Kanata really does an excellent job of capturing feline personality in a way that’s endearing and accurate. Chi is thrilled over the slightest thing—like eating houseplants—and her expressions are wonderfully captured.
There is some plot, though it’s mostly short little tales. It’s a tribute to Kanata’s talent that, despite what might otherwise be shortcomings, Chi’s Sweet Home is so good. It never feels like a plotless or pointless story. It’s too much fun. It’s so easy to dismiss a story as “just being about a cute kitten” and not realizing that yes, it can be pulled off.
Chi’s Sweet Home has been published to read left-to-right, and, unlike most manga, is entirely in color. The color is a very nice bonus, making the images pop off the pages. I look forward to reading more volumes, and I know I’m not the only one. This expressive little kitten has a lot of fans.
Story & Art: Konami Kanata