Monday, August 16, 2021

REVIEW: The Cat Proposed (manga) by Dento Hayane, translated by Katie Kimura

The Cat Proposed is a fantasy BL one-shot manga. It's licensed by Tokyopop. I bought my copy brand new.

This review includes spoilers.


Souta is so overworked he's to the point of considering suicide. He snaps out of it, barely, and finds himself taking a detour to listen to a kodan storyteller. As the storyteller transitions to a story about a bakeneko, a type of supernatural cat that can transform into a human, Souta sees the storyteller briefly transform into a bakeneko. He figures it's just exhaustion, until the storyteller, Kihachi, confirms it and says that they're now both bound by bakeneko rules. Souta must agree to become Kihachi's mate and not reveal the existence of bakeneko to other humans, or both he and Kihachi will be killed.

I'll start by saying that, as a reader, I don't really trust or like the reborn version of Tokyopop. I have at least one series I loved that is now likely forever in licensing limbo due to that publisher's implosion a while back, and I remember reading about what happened with their employees and OEL manga creators. That said, I will grudgingly admit that so far they're two for two with me on their BL titles. Deko-Boko Sugar Days was pretty good. The Cat Proposed was very good, and may end up on my list of all-time favorite BL manga. Ugh.

Anyway, this could have gone badly in so many ways, and instead it was utterly sweet and charming. It felt like the author cared about the characters as people and wanted them to be happy.

The story dealt with multiple serious topics. Souta had literally worked himself almost to death - he was emotionally numb, considering suicide, and stressed to the point that it was affecting him physically. It wasn't until his health forced him to take some time off that he started to realize how warped his perception of things was. Meanwhile, Kihachi was drawn to Souta and wanted to help him, but he was also painfully aware that a bakeneko's lifespan is much longer than a human's.

Kihachi and Souta's relationship involved a lot less force than I initially expected. Kihachi made it clear from the start that being mates just meant that they were bound together - he wouldn't do anything that Souta wasn't comfortable with. And other than one cliched moment in which Kihachi had to save Souta with liquid delivered mouth-to-mouth, the author stuck to that. Kihachi and Souta started off essentially as roommates, and it was nice seeing them spend time with each other. It genuinely felt like Kihachi wanted what was best for Souta, no matter what that turned out to be.

All of the bakeneko side characters were great. Granny Kikyou had a mischievous sense of humor, and the Ryokan Cat's gleeful enjoyment of Kihachi and Souta's romance was amusing. 

I enjoyed this so much that I read it a second time, and parts of it were even better on a reread. If I'm not mistaken, Kihachi used kodan storytelling techniques during his initial explanation of bakeneko rules. Also, as someone who loves reading, I liked the "power of stories" theme.

All in all, this was extremely good and sweet. It's not necessarily for everybody - some might not be able to get past the cat and human romantic pairing and occasional blend of human and cat features (cat ears, tail, eyes, and/or ability to purr, but otherwise human), and others might be disappointed because there are almost no sex scenes and nothing very explicit (kissing, hand holding, and one scene in which everything is hidden by clothing or blankets). For me, though, it fit my BL tastes well, and I'm sad that it looks like none of the author's other works have been published in English. 

One last note: this is the only BL manga I've ever read, and maybe the only romance, in which one of the characters has erectile dysfunction. It embarrasses the character but doesn't interfere with the romance and isn't treated like a joke.


One full-color illustration on matte paper (very unusual, but pretty) and a short afterword by the author.

No comments:

Post a Comment