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    MANGA: Bakeneko Katatte Sourou

    Bakeneko Katatte Sourou – Hayane Dento

    Matoi Souta is a salaryman who’s tired in both body and spirit. One day, on his way home from a grueling bout of work, he stumbles upon a koudan performance and decides to see it on a whim. During the performance, he sees a changed cat, causing him to jump in surprise, but eventually attributes it to the fatigue and brushes it off—until he sees it again.

    Orations of a Changed Cat is all about cat boys!

    It’s a story of a man given a new lease on life after a life spent overworked, depressed, suicidal, and so very tired he keeled over and nearly died. It just so happened this new life involved being a mate to a bakeneko, a kind of cat shifter.

    Kihachi is a bakeneko who performs the koudan because he loves stories and how they make people look forward to tomorrow. It was his performance that gave Souta a jolt of energy. Upon seeing his effect on Souta and that the other man was able to see his cat form, he sought him out again and proposed.

    Kihachi took Souta to the bakeneko headquarters to announce their union and introduced him to their leaders. It’s where the more surreal scenes happened. Not only did cats make their appearance, but there were also unidentified supernatural creatures.

    Souta is a precious cinnamon roll. I want to hug him. He has depression and often thinks about death. He has so little joy in life that he cried while eating the delicious meal Kihachi prepared. He kind of looks like Ichigo from Bleach. I loved how the mangaka drew his eyes. So expressive!

    Kihachi is totally devoted to his mate but fears the pain he will experience with the loss since humans have shorter lifespans. Because of that, he doesn’t want to get too close to Souta. Which made the poor Souta think he was unwanted.

    It may sound like this is heavy drama, but the author perfected a balance of fluff, comedy, cats, angst, and drama. It’s a tender slow-burn romance with a Spirited Away feels underscored by melancholy.

    One hilarious side character was the super nosy ryokan cat who lives for gossip. He shamelessly eavesdrop on Kihachi and Souta’s private moments and loves to annoy Kihachi.

    The illustrations gave off dreamlike otherworldliness that made me think of the Ghibli anime. Especially how the scenes jump back and forth to the supernatural and the real world.

    This is one of my top manga of the year. I loved how it’s so moving and emotional and, at the same time, has a calm, low-key quality. The mangaka’s note at the end gave me a pang with its vague resolution of the lifespan dilemma. I’d like to think magic gave them all the time they could ever ask for.

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