Review by Ian Keogh
Junji Ito’s reputation is as the master of creepy horror, with several series and short story collections confirming it’s a reputation well earned. It’s therefore so odd to see this domestic comedy featuring the exploits of his two cats. Because his art is distinctively associated with the single genre, there’s a constant feeling of horror being imminent, and the possibility of turning the page and seeing them both as road kill. Cat lovers need not fear. Ito’s every bit as much the softie as you are when it comes to cats, despite playing up to his reputation with some genuinely creepy panels.
Two cats Yon and Mu arrive fairly well together, Ito’s wife A-ko taking her mother’s cat, referred to as the Devil’s Cat by Ito, and adopting Mu so Yon will have a playmate. Ito’s initially not keen on the idea, but if he hadn’t come round he’d hardly be producing a book about the experience.
Ito’s feline seduction begins early, initially prompted by jealousy of both cats responding to A-ko, but unconcerned about him, so he makes an extra effort. His nightmares when doing so are the closest in tone to his regular work, with a few later hallucinations thrown in, but the primary purpose is to show how endearing cats become, and how owners in turn are entranced by their individual eccentricities. Ito draws this with charm and elegance, capturing the graceful movement of cats and how regally they pose, and it’s hardly a spoiler to note his heart is captured by them eventually.
Cat lovers should dive straight into Cat Diary as they’re unlikely to find a realistic graphic novel about the cute little critters anywhere near as well produced. If for you cats exist, and are merely seen around like bicycles or daffodils, this will hold little appeal.