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.
Kimi ni wa Fureru to Naru Toko ga Atte – Hayane Dento
Touji is an average high school student who is terrible at dealing with people and struggles with physical contact. On one rainy day, all of Touji’s struggles come to a head when he encounters Itsuki Yato, a fellow classmate who touches him casually even when they first meet. Even though Touji isn’t great at socializing, Itsuki goes out of his way to talk to him and spend time with him. Gradually, Touji starts to want to learn more about Itsuki…
Every Time We Touch, I Hear That Sound is a slow-burn, friends to lovers manga with a gentle, peaceful vibe of lazy summer afternoons.
Introverted, socially awkward Touji meets extroverted, touchy-feely Itsuki on a crowded train when Itsuki’s earbuds tangled with Touji’s button. The two struck up a friendship. Or more like, Itsuki decided to adopt the shy high schooler.
Itsuki’s sunny personality and talkative nature drew Touji to him. I love how he saw beyond Touji’s fumbling attempts to converse to the true personality hidden underneath. He helped give him the courage to come out of his shell.
The two lived near a mountain. Touji is most comfortable when exploring. His character shone the brightest when he is at home on the slopes.
I love how these two boys were connected by the local festival. This is where things came full circle and where Touji showed his mettle and Itsuki found his god.