Separated from her mother, cute Chi must cutely make her way in the world after being taken in by a very cute family in probably one of the cutest books out there where you don't mind the cute overdose.
Writer/Artist: Konami Kanata
Translation: Ed Chavez
Adaptation: Ed Chavez
What They Say
Chi is a michievous newborn kitten who, on a leisurely stroll with her family, finds herself lost and alone. But before she even knows what hit her, the little kitty is picked up and soon under the protection and care of the Yamadas. Every moment of their daily life is filled with something we all can cherish. But their lease explicitly states pets are not allowed in their building...
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Originally starting its run back in 2004 in the Weekly Morning seinen magazine, Chi's Sweet Home has slowly but surely built itself an audience. So much so that with seven volumes available in Japan, it also spawned an anime series done a shorts similar to the length of the manga stories. Vertical has grabbed a solid crossover hit here that should appeal to kids pretty easily,e specially the many girls who love cats, as it's instantly accessible and extremely cute.
The series revolves around a young kitten who while out on a walk with her mother and siblings ends up separated from them. The little kitten makes her way around and ends up encountering a little boy who she then mimics, which is entirely too cute for the boys mother as she brings the kitten home. Unfortunately, the small apartment they live in doesn't allow pets so they try to find a home for the kitten for awhile with no luck. During that time, the family gets closer and closer to the kitten as she goes through her life discoveries. The Yamada's are a straightforward family where you have the mom and dad along with the little boy named Yohei.
The kitten is eventually named Chi, which is a bit of a joke itself as the name means both small and urine in Japanese, and we see her going through all sorts of normal coming of age stories that you'd expect for a kitten. Discovering the warm comfort of a sleeping place, learning where the appropriate place to relieve herself is and getting into all sorts of games with the family. Part of the time is spent trying to make sure Chi doesn't get noticed by anyone outside of the apartment since they don't want to get booted out and there's an amusing adventure off to the veterinarian as well which has Chi's temperature being taken in a way that nobody likes, cat or man.
With the short chapters, the individual stories aren't drawn out too much so they're quick and cute without being too much. Kanata's artwork is very adorable and has a very appealing look to it with the kitten and the family, which is made even more accessible to Western non-manga fans because it's in color. There's a simplicity to the artwork that gives it a good flow but it also has some really nice detail in a lot of panels that lets it stand out nicely. The general direction of how the story works and the focus on it being cute and adorable is what sells it and Kanata does a spot on job here. Chi's Sweet Home is pretty much timeless in a lot of ways as we watch the story of this cute kitten. They translation for it works well too as they give Chi a young voice to speak with as she stretches out some words in her cat-speak and basically sounds like a three year old does for a lot of phrases. It's utterly endearing, though you may need a break every few chapters so as to not overdose on it.
Showcasing the life of a little kitten that's separated from its mother and ends up with a new family is both an easy and a hard sell. It's a very light book overall, though there's plenty of dialogue and certainly a number of stories here, and with the higher price because of the color it makes it less appealing to some manga fans to try out. On the flip side, it looks to be well priced for the kids book market considering how much material is really here and I'm sure that's why it's not in the Japanese format of right to left. Chi's Sweet Home made me smile throughout as she discovered her new home while still trying to escape to find her original home and mother. Chi's one of the cutest characters out there and you don't mind her being so cute. This is the first manga I've read in several years where I'm looking forward to the second volume.