Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
With a Dog AND a Cat, Every Day is Fun
Manga creator Hidekichi Matsumoto shares their life with two seven-year-old animals: a poodle and a cat. Inu-kun is rambunctious and full of affection while Neko-san is more reserved and has a sly sense of humor, but whether they're playing together, sleeping on the bed, or getting pets, every day of Matsumoto's life is made more fun by the fact that the two animals are in it.
Although the memoir subgenre has taken off in the English-language manga market recently, most of the titles have focused on work or mental health-related topics, often, but not always, veering a bit into the more serious side of things. That makes Hidekichi Matsumoto's With a Dog AND a Cat, Every Day is Fun not only relatively unique (Junji Ito's Cat Diary: Yon & Mu joins it in the subgenre, but not much else), but also a delight in that it's written almost strictly about the more fun aspects of living with pets rather than dwelling on the problems.
As advertised by the title, the story focuses on Matsumoto's life with their dog and cat, simply called “Inu-kun” and “Neko-san” in the text. As we learn from the bonus comics in the back of the book, both are seven years old and came into Matsumoto's life very differently: Inu-kun, a purebred toy poodle, was purchased at a pet store, while they rescued Neko-san as a kitten when he was stuck in a drain. While it isn't a major discussion in the book, Matsumoto does mention that rescuing Neko-san opened their eyes to the different ways people can find pets, such as shelters or rescues (as in the organizations, not the act). It's interesting that this comes up, because while the previous dog Matsumoto had was another purebred poodle, the dog they grew up with was one that either had been abandoned or lost on the street and simply ran up to Matsumoto, whose family decided to adopt her when no owners could be found. That story, also present in the end of the book, gives us some good background on Matsumoto's pet experience: this is someone who loves animals and has always had at least one, rather than – as a point of comparison – Junji Ito, whose own pet manga is about how he learned to interact with cats.
Despite these little glimpses of more serious content, the body of the work is comprised of short, silly stories about the everyday things that Matsumoto experiences with Inu-kun and Neko-san. The chapters are set up to contrast with each other – first there'll be a bit about Inu-kun and his boundless enthusiasm for basically everything, and after a contrasting chapter about Neko-san being blasé about the very same thing or something similar. Matsumoto does a grand job of capturing the differences many of us housing multiple pet species notice, and if there's exaggeration it's clearly for comedic effect. Inu-kun is drawn just throwing himself around the room in paroxysms of ecstasy over virtually everything, while Neko-san just sort of…glares at the world. Making this even more fun is the fact that every chapter about Neko-san ends with the exact same photo of him making the classic Indolent Cat Face, no matter what the chapter is about or how it concludes.
There are a fair amount of black-and-white photos in between chapters, which definitely feels like a nice bonus as well as giving us a good idea of how skilled Matsumoto is at drawing caricatures of the pets. The art is loose and a little scribbly, but it captures the body language of both animals very well, and if it isn't always aesthetically pleasing or as cute as something like A Man and His Cat, it certainly works for the format and style of the storytelling. The humor also doesn't keep the story from being touching, which isn't necessarily easy to do. The chapter about how Inu-kun waits for bedtime, no matter how late it may be because he likes sleeping with his person is utterly heartwarming, and also rings true, at least in my household, where bedtime is a production with the dog and at least four of the five cats all trooping upstairs with me and plenty of stares if it isn't happening at the usual time. Also recognizable are the different ways that the dog and cat react to accidents (total guilt versus an attempt to ignore the misplaced poop) and Matsumoto's well-meaning but ultimately ill-starred attempt to give Neko-kun a bath.
Although short – only about 130 pages – With a Dog AND a Cat, Every Day is Fun is hard not to recommend to animal lovers. It leans heavily on the silly side, but the emotional power of other animal manga does rear its head at times, and the charm of the antics related is hard to deny. It's a fluffy story that's the perfect cure for a bad day.
Overall : A-
Story : A-
Art : B
+ Sweet, funny, and occasionally poignant. Caricatures of the animals are well done.
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