A cute debut volume of a slice-of-life cat manga.
Konami Kanata’s FukuFuku: Kitten Tales is a manga series for cat-lovers of all ages. Each short chapter depicts the antics of a kitten, FukuFuku, as well as the steady progression of her relationship with her owner. Is the first volume a strong start for the series?
Narratively, this volume is a bit of a mixed bag. On the positive side, the series is exactly what it appears to be upon initial inspection. FukuFuku goes on various short adventures, and bonds with her owner along the way. If you look at the cover and think that slice-of-life cat adventures sound appealing, then you won’t feel betrayed by the book’s contents. Whether she’s scratching up various household items, vying for the attention of her fellow neighborhood cats, or running in fear from jack-o’-lanterns, FukuFuku is always adorable, and her personality is consistent and charming, even with a vocabulary that’s limited to various specific meow sounds. FukuFuku’s owner is also written quite well, and her concerns for the kitten’s well-being read as genuine and touching.
On the downside, the actual contents of FukuFuku’s adventures aren’t always particularly original or memorable. As cute as seeing cats do what cats do always is, there’s not much about the writing that makes this series stand out from other cat-centric comics. While FukuFuku’s exploits are charming, they are also easy to forget as one moves further into the book and onto new adventures. There are a few strong exceptions to this, however. The chapter in which FukuFuku encounters a carved Halloween pumpkin for the first time is adorable, as is an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland-inspired tale. It’s perhaps a bit ironic that the chapter which takes cues from a frequently referenced story is this volume’s most memorable section, but I have to give Konami props. She manages to play with Lewis Carroll’s classic tale in a specific way that I have never seen before, and that feels both fresh and at home within FukuFuku: Kitten Tales’ adorable aesthetic.
Art-wise, this volume is solid. FukuFuku is adorable, and Konami does a good job of capturing sensations of motion in her panels. The strongest part of the artwork is its textures. Thoroughly detailed renderings of floor mats, kotatsus, etc. are pleasing to look at and evoke the physical feelings of the items in question. It is also worth noting that the artwork contributes significantly to the volume’s pacing, as it is easy to glide through most of the pages with few awkwardly rendered panels.
Overall, FukuFuku: Kitten Tales Volume 1 is exactly what it says on the tin, for both better and worse. On one hand, the cat and owner antics are cute both narratively and artistically. On the other hand, the stories’ events are very mundane. Very few of FukuFuku’s adventures feel particularly unique or creative. As a result, it is easy to forget about the series’ events quickly after reading them. While no part of this volume is outright bad, I can’t rate it too highly because it isn’t unique enough to leave a lasting impression.