In an alternative omegaverse Japan (roughly in the Taisho era) a young man, Toushirou, becomes a servant in the house of Alex, a diplomat from Nyartig. Toushirou is an omega, born out of wedlock, who has known only servitude all his life, being forced to act as a sexual toy for his Japanese masters. He is surprised to find that his new master Alex, although presenting with the features, ears and tail of a cat, treats him with more kindness than he has ever received from his own countrymen. Told to ‘reward’ his new master (with sexual favours) he’s even more surprised when Alex rewards him – with a handful of little sugar sweets.
Rodney, Alex’s Nyartigian colleague, warns him that the placing of an omega in the household means that the Japanese are trying to set him up. “They’re trying to get you with an omega honeypot. It’s the oldest trick in the book.” But Alex is adamant that Toushirou should stay and as the days pass without incident, Toushirou feels more and more at home with his quiet and scholarly master. Nevertheless, there is a potential catch. The Nyartigians have managed to suppress their more bestial natures and make use of vaccinations to aid this process, so they don’t revert to behaving like alphas. However, if exposed to an omega’s pheromones, there’s always a danger that this might trigger an uncontrollable alpha-type response. Sure enough, Toushirou eventually goes into heat – but Alex, curious and solicitous, takes care of him.
But just when it seems that the two have come through a potentially life-changing situation, word comes from Nyartig via Rodney of a recent case of a beastman reverting to his alpha nature when coming in contact with an omega. Alex must part company with Toushirou – and as soon as possible. Poor Toushirou tries his best to understand when told he has to leave, but he’s fallen in love with his master. Is it possible that someone from his past is interfering, someone who doesn’t have his best interests at heart, quite the opposite?
In this alternate-world fantasy omegaverse Japan, the arrival of the civilized and cultured cat/beastmen highlights the reprehensible way in which Japan treats its omega citizens as an underclass, only fit to be sexual toys/playthings. Mangaka Arata Asanae employs several metaphors here, foremost, the more familiar alpha/beta/omega dynamics of omegaverse tales, in which alphas and omegas lose all their inhibitions and are drawn to one another by the power of their pheromones. However, the presence of the ‘foreign’ beastmen sets up another parallel as the Japanese are portrayed here as showing them courtesy in social situations but mistrusting, even abusing, the foreigners/aliens behind their backs. Their ‘otherness’ is very obvious in that they are an intelligent people that resemble human-sized cats (furries, to adopt the more vernacular term).
Arata Asanae’s drawings have a delicate quality when portraying Toushirou and her depictions of the catmen are believable, although their features take a little getting used to (they work better in profile than full-face where the noses are not quite feline enough for this cat-lover). The period details are lightly sketched in, implied, rather than depicted and the soft colours in the cover art and the colour picture inside enhance the period feeling. But don’t be deceived by the pink flowers on the back cover; there’s a graphic attempted rape scene which could be triggering for some readers that maybe needs a warning, although given the Mature rating and the shrink-wrapping, probably not. Overall, the developing relationship between the damaged young man and his kindly master makes for a satisfying romantic read and the mangaka’s use of the delicate sugar sweets that Alex gives Toushirou is nicely used as a theme running through the narrative.
The translation is expertly done by Leighann Harvey, matched by the lettering by Chiho Christie. There’s a little afterword from the mangaka and a charming little bonus story The Light I Yearn For.
Even though Yen Press have presented My Mate is a Feline Gentleman as a one-volume release, it turns out it’s actually the first of a four-volume series by Arata Asanae. And according to Yen Press’s catalogue, the next volume UK Arc Over is due out in December 2023 and takes the main characters to… the United Kingdom!
Our review copy from Yen Press was supplied by Diamond Book Distributors UK.