Retired pianist and widower Fuyuki Kanda has found a new interest in life: his exotic shorthair cat, Fukumaru! Mr. Kanda and his pet seem to act like a magnet, attracting other concert pianists to their home, the latest of whom is Geoffroy Lambert who has found five abandoned kittens in a park on the way to visit Mr. Kanda and decided to adopt them. Add in rival pianist Hibino and his cat Marin (who just happens to be Fukumaru’s sister) and the Kanda home seems to be turning into a cattery. But then when Mr. Kanda is called away, a strange young woman arrives and pins poor Geoffroy down, accusing him of being a burglar. This unexpected visitor is none other than Mr. Kanda’s somewhat eccentric entomologist daughter Sorako – and much explaining ensues once Mr. Kanda reappears (she hadn’t warned her father she was about to descend). And then, who should turn up but Sorako’s younger brother Hoshinari (a composer) and his immediate reaction is, “I hate cats!”
The cats’ reactions to the humans’ shenanigans are priceless and worth buying this volume for alone. The humans’ reactions are rather more complex and the introduction of Mr. Kanda’s grown-up children adds a new (and sometimes dissonant) note to the hitherto harmonious Kanda household. Hoshinari’s horrified reaction to finding the house full of the felines he hates becomes a recurring element as, of course, cats seem to seek out the less cat-friendly humans and fawn all over them (for some mysterious reason), only increasing the humans’ desire to retreat. This also sets the scene for some touching but realistic flashbacks to when Sorako and Hoshinari were children and their fond memories of their mother (who always longed to have a cat as a pet). Sorako may have found her life’s calling in studying insects but Hoshinari has some considerable bitterness stored up inside, having wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps as a concert pianist but then failing to do so. He’s inherited his father’s good looks but his personality is quite warped. Now he’s a composer and Sakuma, his manager, has seen the footage of the recent concert where Mr. Kanda (and friends) came to the rescue of their young colleague Yoshimaru Moriyama, abandoned at the last moment by his fellow band members. Sakuma wants Hoshinari to join Moriyama’s band – but Hoshinari is not interested.
Who should then turn up but Moriyama himself! Hoshinari is ready to hate Moriyama and the deal that his manager is angling to pull off, but he completely misreads the guitarist/singer who is in no way a pushover and has his own pride as a musician. Sparks fly between the two young men as the older ones and the cats look on, astonished. How will it all turn out?
The translation for Square Enix is again by Taylor Engel and expertly gives us yet more of Fukumaru’s catspeak e.g. “I’d pawsitively hate that!”. Two helpful character pages are to be found at the beginning as well as two colour pages at the beginning (with a cheerful bug-related theme for Sorako, the insect-lover) and a cat-themed 4-koma at the end. As in the other volumes, the ongoing narrative is broken up with humorous 4-koma pages with titles such as Mew Let Me Down (Fukumaru is not at all keen on sharing in Mr. Kanda’s vegetarian dinner) and Can It Be?! Is This The Spot…? (Fukumaru is so happy when the heated flooring is switched on).
Fans of Fukumaru (not to mention Marin and Geoffroy’s five kittens) will adore this latest addition to Umi Sakurai’s eminently readable saga of musicians and their cats (or should that be the other way round?). In what is arguably the best volume so far, the mangaka manages to keep us turning the pages while laughing at the kitty antics (some delightful visual humour here) but then wiping away a tear at the tugs on the heartstrings – not to mention raising a cheer for Moriyama at the end! Not too long to wait for the next instalment, with Volume 9 due out from Square Enix in September 2023.
Read a free preview at the publisher’s website here.
Our review copy from Square Enix Manga was supplied by Turnaround Comics (Turnaround Publisher Services).