Lovely Muco! The happy daily life of Muco and Mr. Komatsu Volume 1 Review

Leave it to me!! Muco will hold down the fort until Mr. Komatsu returns! Just you watch. I won’t budge an inch! For I am Muco, the Iron Woman. (Muco waiting for her owner outside the supermarket.)

Lively Shiba Inu Muco adores her master, glassblower Mr. Komatsu. From Muco’s point of view, all’s well with the world as long as her nose is as shiny as the glassware Mr. Komatsu creates in his studio ‘amato’. She chews up towels trying to imitate her beloved master as he blows each new item of glassware and her world would be quite perfect if only he could become a dog too. Until then… there’s walks and food and more walks and games to be invented. Sometimes Mr. Ushiko comes to dog-sit when Mr. Komatsu has to go somewhere work-related and Muco is conflicted about this. But Mr. Ushiko (who is Mr. Komatsu’s IT-skilled friend and looks after that side of the glassblower’s business) really loves his food so maybe he’s all right. And he’s the one who’s ready and willing to create a new website for the studio because Mr. Komatsu isn’t getting many customers. However when a young lady visitor arrives, there’s much confusion as she thinks she’s stumbled on a cute café. Muco is unsettled by this strange and unexpected female visitor. After coffee is served, the embarrassing misunderstanding is eventually sorted out and Muco feels so much better when the visitor departs!

In the meantime, Muco catches a cold (her nose isn’t beautifully shiny any more), plays in the snow, plays with Rena (the local bar owner’s daughter), has scary nightmares about Mr. Ushiko and watches the fireworks with Mr. Komatsu. Every moment in this dog’s life is exciting!

Takayuki Mizushina captures Muco’s high-octane energy really well – her hyperactive but appealing personality comes across as an authentic doggy voice as her attention switches in a blink from one thing to another. It’s often a very loud voice too (she’s a dog!); the lettering – bold and in capitals – (sadly uncredited) aptly barks at the reader as Muco’s reactions to everything are dialled up to 11. And then there’s her utter devotion to her owner, Mr. Komatsu; her world revolves around him and she sees the world through a Komatsu-tinted lens. Much respect to translator Casey Lee rendering Muco’s voice and endearing (though loud) personality so convincingly in English.

Occasionally there are little (physically smaller) 4-koma strips between chapters entitled ‘Muuuuuuuco!’ as well as amusing snapshot sketches instead of whole splash-page illustrations. At the end there’s four pages of The Komatsu Collection explaining about the different T-shirts Mr. Komatsu wears in each chapter with a half-page dedicated to the Mr. Ushiko Food Collection.

It’s always a pleasure to find and be able to recommend a manga that’s suitable for younger readers and Lovely Muco! falls nicely into this category with an 8+ rating. It’s quite a ‘physical’ narrative; Muco’s a dog so she’s invested in food, and bodily functions inevitably loom large in her life (but not as large as her overwhelming love for Mr. Komatsu). We’re told that the main characters – and that includes Muco – are based on a real-life situation; the manga series ran for seventeen volumes and three seasons of a TV anime (5-minute episodes). The mangaka started a new pet-themed series in 2021: Kiri Moya Biyori (Clear Skies for Kiri and Moya) for the same magazine, Kodansha’s Evening.

This is a VERTICAL book from Kodansha and there are two full-colour chapters (I suspect this might be a 2-in-1 edition as the second colour chapter – or Barking – comes halfway through). The colours used are bright and simple, again giving the impression that this is a manga tailored to appeal to children. A neat touch is that on the matte cover, Muco’s nose is the one element to be given a gloss finish. Given the lively nature of the book’s central character, a Barking or two (although short) are probably quite enough to read at one time. If you’re a Muco fan, Volume 2 is due out in early July 2023.

Read free chapters of Lovely Muco! at the publisher’s website here.

Our review copy from Kodansha (Vertical Books) was supplied by Turnaround Comics UK.

8 / 10


Sarah's been writing about her love of manga and anime since Whenever - and first started watching via Le Club Dorothée in France...

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