After the angst of the last volume, in which Fukumaru went missing and retired pianist (and cat lover) Fuyuki Kanda relied on the kindness of his friends to organize a search, the new volume plunges straight into a crisis of a different – musical – nature.
Kanda and his friends have gone to see a rock concert to be given by Yoshiharu Moriyama, his young colleague, and his band. But the band have very unkindly done a bunk and left the young guitarist alone, stranded in front of a full house. But what are friends and colleagues for? The three older musicians hardly hesitate a moment before they go up on stage to support the flabbergasted Moriyama. Even Mr. Kanda – who hasn’t been able to play solo in public since his wife died – is determined not to let his young friend down. The concert that follows – although improvised – is a huge success. Has Mr. Kanda managed to overcome his stage fright? Well, no… but it’s a step in the right direction. And when Yoshiharu falls ill, it’s Mr. Kanda (accompanied by his amiable colleague Kagenaka) who goes to his flat to help him out. But then, who should turn up at Yoshiharu’s flat but Masato, Yoshiharu’s younger brother and a piano student of Hibino’s? Masato has a not-so secret crush on Mr. Kanda and he’s utterly overwhelmed to find his idol caring for his older brother! Cue sibling rivalry, much to Mr. Kanda’s embarrassment…
Meanwhile, a video of the impromptu concert has been shared online and this leads to Yoshiharu being made a very tempting offer. But it’s not one he can accept as it involves Mr. Kanda and the young musician is too decent to put his own needs and ambitions before those of his older colleague…
While all these musical complications are going on, what about Fukumaru? He has a feline guest; Hibino has asked Mr. Kanda to look after Marin, Fukumaru’s big sister, while he’s away on a concert tour. Mr. Kanda is delighted – but even though the cats get on well enough, there’s some sibling rivalry for Mr. Kanda’s attention to be sorted out. The cute cat hijinks continue as Fukumaru settles back into his safe routine (although some anxiety on his part, understandably, as to whether there’ll be enough food for him after his time away from home).
But while Hibino is abroad on his concert tour, he meets an old pianistic rival: the stunningly handsome Geoffroy Lambert who, it seems, has been nursing a grudge against Fuyuki Kanda all these years. (Geoffroy’s father, Gustave Lambert, was Hibino’s teacher.) This can only spell trouble to come for Mr. Kanda as now it seems everyone wants him to take them on as his students (well, Masato and Geoffroy do) and, in the case of the latter, definitely not for the most noble of reasons!
Even though in her humorously illustrated afterword Umi Sakurai points out to us that there’s something of an imbalance between cats and music in this latest volume, it all works out pretty well for the reader as there’s never a dull moment – and it’s really heart-warming to see the way Mr. Kanda is beginning to come out of his self-protective shell. The relationship between him and his younger colleague, Yoshiharu, is particularly engaging as this promising young musician has been, it seems, a little neglected by his own family in favour of the talented younger brother Masato – and yet he’s been composing songs and forging his own path. Now that his secret’s been revealed and Masato realizes that his idol is working alongside his older brother in the music school, perhaps the siblings will be able to come to a better understanding of each other…
There are also some amusing 4-koma panels on the picking of wild cat teasers to amuse Fukumaru by Kobayashi and Kanda which leads to a few unintended domestic consequences.
This sixth volume of A Man and His Cat has been translated, as before, by Taylor Engel for Square Enix Manga with a wonderful variety of lettering again from Lys Blakeslee. There are colour pages at the front and back of the volume and the seventh volume is – currently – promised for October 2022.
There’s never a dull moment in this latest instalment of the adventures of M. Kanda and his beloved cat Fukumaru – if you’re enjoying these delightful tales of music, musicians and their pets, then you won’t want to miss this one!
Read a free preview of Volume 6 at Square Enix Manga and Books site here.