Twenty-nine-year-old office worker Riko is a hard-working individual who always gets her job done on time, but never socialises or meets other colleagues outside of work. Why? Because she’s got more important things to do, like play the latest Dragon Sword title and complete all the side quests. She’s a gamer who’s happy to spend every evening and weekend playing her favourite video games. One day, the security guard at her office brings in an abandoned kitten, hoping someone at work will take the cat home. Riko, to her and her colleagues’ surprise, agrees to take it. Riko is at Level 1 when it comes to cats, she knows nothing about them, but that doesn’t mean she can’t level up and become the best cat owner a gamer can be!
Not all manga is created equal; some are created because the mangaka wants to tell a grand story with heavy themes and plot twists. Some are created as tie-ins to other series and help sell merchandise. Some are thin disguises to draw porn, and some are there just to have a good time. Cat + Gamer falls into this category. The premise is as simple as the paragraph above, there are no strange twists or hidden depths or scenarios created to get Riko in sexy poses; it’s just a series about a gamer girl, learning to take a care of a cat. So, if anything from the synopsis above grabs your attention and you just want a fluffy, fun read, then look no further than Cat + Gamer.
The first volume of the series covers the first eight chapters of the series; each chapter is told from Riko’s perspective with each scenario being something like Riko trying to eat dinner or enjoy her gaming but then being distracted by the cat in her home. Cats need attention, food and sleep, so it’s all about how Riko’s lifestyle must change to accommodate it. At the end of each chapter, we also get a few panels from the cat’s perspective; it’s not necessary to understand the story, but they’re cute, nevertheless. The events in the story are very slice-of-life: what do cats play with, when should I feed him, how do I get the cat to stop trying to scratch me whilst I’m playing my game, and so on. Each chapter is self-contained, so the volume as a whole is an easy breezy read.
We don’t get much in terms of backstory for Riko, but the character is likeable; sometimes when a story has a ‘gamer’ in it, the author tends to just stick with broad strokes: at best it’s someone who just likes games in general but has no particular preferences, or at the worst, someone who’s socially awkward, nerdy and visually unappealing. But there are actually different types of gamers, like there are different types of filmophiles. For gamers you have those for prefer one different genre to another (e.g. RPGs or FPS) or have particular playstyles (like the speed runners or those who just to experience the story). Riko is a completist; she will max out her party and attempt to fight the same battle again and again, just to get that 2% rare drop she wants. She also likes to collect limited edition controllers to match her games, and so on. As a fellow gamer, I could see a lot of myself in her (as a proud owner of the Shadow the Hedgehog PS2 controller) and I’m sure other gamers will too. As for being a cat owner, I haven’t had one since I was a child, but I do have a friend who has shared many stories of her two cats – including their many attempts to get their owner’s attention whilst they worked from home – so I can imagine that cat owners will find the antics of the angelic cat on the cover will be amusing to them as well.
Story and art are provided by Wataru Nadatani. They don’t have many titles to their name, and this seems to be their first English release. Art-wise, they clearly had a lot of love for cats as each panel not only has them in cute poses but also the level of detail in the way the cat’s fur is depicted is very impressive, especially on he cover – you almost want to reach out and pet the cat! I also liked the detail in the games that Riko plays; they’re somewhat generic, with references to the likes of Dragon’s Quest, Final Fantasy, the Souls games and such, but it’s still detailed regardless.
English translation is provided by Zack Davisson, who does a good job at translating the cat puns and Riko’s quirks for the English readership, my only quibble is with the nickname that colleagues give Riko – the ‘Zero Overtime Woman’ – was there nothing snappier or funny that could’ve been done? I can’t imagine that name taking off in the office.
Cat + Gamer = a light-hearted, fun read that will please both sides of the equation. Check out the preview now from Dark Horse comics.