“I wonder why life always gives you choices that have no right answer…”
The man (Fuyuki Kanda) – widower, piano teacher and onetime concert pianist – and his beloved cat, exotic shorthair Fukumaru, have never been separated. But one day Fukumaru is looking out into the garden when he spots a big black cat he recognizes from his long time at the pet shop, a Maine Coone. Moja looks to be in poor condition and when Fukumaru jumps up at the window, trying to get his attention, the Maine Coon is terrified and runs off. This makes Fukumaru so worried that when Kanda returns home, he shoots out the front door and hurtles off in search of his feline friend. Kanda, aghast, has no idea what could have caused this uncharacteristic behaviour and starts to search for him – without success.
The narrative then splits into Moja’s perspective (he thinks that Fukumaru’s attempts to get his attention were aggressive and designed to chase him away) – and Fukumaru’s fruitless hunt for his onetime feline mentor. Neither cat has good orienteering skills (perhaps a problem for all indoor cats who are not used to finding their way round outside?) so as night falls, both end up lost and alone.
But when the distraught Kanda discovers a cat lying exhausted by the side of the street, it’s not Fukumaru but Moja – and he’s not in a good way. What else can Kanda do but put his search on hold and rush him to the vet’s, in the hope that it’s not too late.
Meanwhile, Kanda has gained several human helpers, all keen to help him search for Fukumaru. To Kanda’s surprise, kindly Momiji Sato from the pet shop comes along, as well as his young guitar-playing colleague Yoshiharu Moriyama from the music school; reliable old friend Kobayashi is there and even Hibino turns up. Armed with flyers, they set out to leaflet the neighbourhood – and if the leafleting turns into something of a macho competition among the men as to who can deliver the most, it’s all in a good cause, in the end. But as the hours (and days) go by without a sign of Fukumaru, Kanda begins to despair. Will he ever find his beloved pet again?
Cat lovers will relate to the 4-koma pages which, as well as offering some humorous light relief to the angst (missing pets!) of the main story will ring true, especially the one where Kanda attempts to anticipate exactly where the heaving Fukumaru will throw up (furball?) – alas, in vain. There’s also a bonus chapter about Marin and her new owner, Hibino, and some feeding issues, as well as a chapter on another new cat encountered by Fukumaru, LunLun.
Another good-looking volume from Square Enix with colour plates at the front and end of the book. Mangaka Umi Sakurai relates in her afterword that she, too, has had a cat go missing and adds, “I hope all lost pets find their way back to their people.” As in earlier volumes, honours go to translator Taylor Engel for translating the cats’ language and – undoubtedly this can in no way be a straight translation – finding equivalent punning words in English for Fukumaru’s distinctively meowy way of thinking and speaking. Umi Sakurai’s art rises to the occasion here, as this is without doubt the most dramatic volume of the series so far. However, there are just a couple of rather incongruous images of Kanda searching for Fukumaru in which it looks as if someone else (an assistant) has drawn the body and she’s added the head – but it’s rather too small. Ahh, the time pressures of being a mangaka…
Bubbling under is the music-related story of young Moriyama’s problems with the group he plays guitar with – hopefully that will bear fruit in the next volume from Square Enix Manga (which is due out in June 2022).
Read a free preview of this volume at the publisher’s website here.