Manga Review: Junji Ito’s Cat Diary – Yon & Mu
English Title: Junji Ito’s Cat Diary Yon & Mu
Japanese Title: 伊藤潤二の猫日記 よん&むー
Writer & Artist: Ito Junji
Released: 2008–2009 (Japanese), 2015 (English)
Length: ~120 pages
My Verdict: Horror parodies of Ito’s experience with his wife and two cats. Drawn in his usual style. Moderately amusing, not to be taken too seriously.
● This is a semi-autobiographical work comprising of 10 stories about Ito’s experience of living with his wife, “A-ko”, and two cats, Yon and Mu.
● The art is in his usual style, albeit mostly brighter and seemingly more normal, only switching to the odd “horror” panel as part of the joke. In many instances, since the author, “J-kun”, is the viewpoint character, these are close-ups of his face (reaction) or, of course, the cat in a menacing form.
● To those who are looking for serious works of horror, this is not it. These stories, which are more like vignettes, are common pet experiences that are dramatized and made into parodies of horror.
● Much of the comedy is from the irony of the situation, which is good even if it is predictable. The work is not a cheap take of “Oh look, my cats are doing cute things”.
● Whilst J-kun is drawn to obviously resemble Ito, A-ko only somewhat resembles Ito’s wife, Ishiguro Ayako. She is also mostly drawn without pupils which is amusing.
● The two cats do resemble the real cats, the English release includes photos of them, amongst other additional material.
● The 10 chapters are listed below:
Chapter 1: “Mu Appears” – J-kun and A-ko, engaged, move into their new home with clean and undamaged floors and walls… until A-ko unilaterally decides to bring Yon from her parents’ home even though J-kun is not a cat person. But before even Yon arrives, A-ko adopts a kitten, Mu.
Chapter 2: “Yon Attacks” – J-kun is dreading Yon’s arrival. Yon apparently has a “cursed face”, as well as black markings on his back that look like a skull. (The latter is true as the photos in the English release show.)
Chapter 3: “Battle of the Cat Wand” – A-ko masters using the cat wand to play with the cats. J-kun tries to replicate A-ko’s skills…
Chapter 4: “The Events of One Late Night” – The cats love sleeping next to A-ko on her bed but not with J-kun.
Chapter 5: “Yon is a Weird Cat” – Tired from working late on his manga, J-kun hallucinates, seeing Yon in weird forms.
Chapter 6: “Yon’s Great Escape” – Yon and Mu are indoor cats but Yon is able to open the window and escape. J-kun and A-ko search the neighborhood for Yon.
Chapter 7: “King Yon” – J-kun and A-ko try to deal with Yon’s abilities to escape.
Chapter 8: “Mu’s Castration” – J-kun and A-ko take Mu to the vet to have him neutered but then get anxious when there is a complication.
Chapter 9: “Unidentified Creature” – J-kun and A-ko bring Yon and Mu to visit A-ko’s parents. They come across the family’s other cat, the mysterious Goro.
Chapter 10: “Tread Not on Poop, Snot, or Cat” – J-kun brings home fake excrement to prank A-ko. But it’s not as if the cats don’t leave anything behind…
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