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The Fall 2023 Manga Guide
Cat on the Hero's Lap

by The Anime News Network Editorial Team,

What's It About? 

Cat on the Hero's Lap volume 1 cover

In this hilarious fantasy adventure, will the hero triumph against the evil demon king, or face defeat…because he can't fight with a cat on his lap?!

Our brave hero, Red, has embarked alongside his companions on a journey to defeat the great demon king. Or at least, that was the plan. But then a cat sat on Red's lap and fell asleep. There's no way he can fight monsters like this! As it turns out, Red's greatest enemy is right on top of him!

Cat on the Hero's Lap has a story by Kosuke Iijima and art by Shiori. The English translation is by Alan Cheng and Rowena Chen, with lettering by Mercedes McGarry. Published by Seven Seas Entertainment (November 14, 2023).

Is It Worth Reading?

Cat on the Hero's Lap volume 1 inside panel

Rebecca Silverman


This book has exactly one joke, but it's a good one: Red the hero can't get anything done because a stray cat has decided to adopt him and sit on his lap. If you've never had a cat, you might not understand the absolute paralysis that comes when a cat chooses your lap as the best place to fall asleep. Not only are they adorable when they're sleeping, but the sheer weight of their trust is hard to beat. And if that cat is a stray who has decided you're their person? Multiply the paralysis by ten.

The cat in question is Mr. Cat, a random kitty who one day decided he loved Red and adopted him. The problem is that Red is the hero who's supposed to slay the demon lord, and much to the dismay of Aina, one of his party members, he's useless when Mr. Cat settles in. At first, Grace, his other party member, is on Aina's side, but Mr. Cat wears him down – and Grace even acquires the rare skill “Pick Up Cat.” The story is framed like an RPG, with silly checkpoints and stats, and it seems to exist to ask, “What if there were cats in games and they acted like actual cats?” Deep it is not, but it is pretty charming.

It's also an ode to cats and those who fall under their power. At one point, Red and an escape convict bond over the joy of cats, and a few sections explore the fact that what Mr. Cat really craves is safety, and he feels that when he's with Red. Although the story is mostly a comedy, it manages some genuine pathos in a few places. It's a lovely combination of the basic cat manga that explores life with the weird little guys and a send-up of fantasy stories. Readers from places where neutering even stray cats is the norm may be taken aback by all the cat balls on display, but if you're a fantasy-loving cat person, this drawn little story is worth your time.

Cat on the Hero's Lap volume 1 inside panel



It's one thing for a series only to have one joke. It's another when a series only has one punchline. The former can work because sometimes writers can force themselves to squeeze as much comedic mileage out of a particular premise or setup. The latter has rarely worked for me because it doesn't matter how much you change the setup of a joke if I know exactly how it will end every single time. Cat on the Hero's Lap is one of those latter series where the joke is just that a cat won't leave an adventurer alone and keeps getting in the way of him trying to defeat the demon lord with his friends. That's it.

A new threat comes up, or the main protagonist will try to do something to further their goals, only for this random cat, who has the grip strength of a God, to enter the fray to screw everything up by laying on the leading adventurer. The artwork is cute, and I do like its sense of style, even if it is a bit on the blind side, but I didn't find myself laughing once the entire time I was reading this volume. There are a lot of series in this guide that have sparked a variety of conflicting emotions inside of me, from extreme joy to extreme disgust. But this series elicits nothing in me. It's not funny, it's not engaging, and most everybody would be better off spending their time reading something else.

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