According to the data of what pets are kept in Japanese households, cats and dogs are the two most common choices. However, with regard to manga, cats are far more popular. Large bookstores always have a “cat corner”, supported by specialized cat manga magazines like “Nekopuni” and “Nekopanchi”.
At the core of this genre is essay style manga describing daily life with a cat. Not limited to well-known authors, amateurs can also achieve fame by doing this kind of story.
The author of “Neko Nanka Yondemo Konai” (Cats don’t come when you call), Sugisaku is a manga artist with an unusual past… he used to be a professional boxer! Originally, he didn’t care much for cats, but after receiving one from his big brother and being forced to look after it, slowly but surely, his love for cats bloomed. After the emotional pain of giving up his dream of professional boxing, the cat helped him heal. Seeing how he changes after living with a cat will make you cry buckets of tears! Even though this was his first manga, he drew 4 volumes and it was a great hit! A live action film has also been announced for 2016.
Fictional cat stories are also thriving! A recent work that is receiving a lot of attention is “Nekota Biyori” (kyuraku), a light 4 panel manga about a cat that can speak and walk around on two legs. It’s updated daily on the Jump+ website.
Another is “Chokkyu Ippon Shobu, Neko Pitcher” (Straight Ball One-Shot Match, Cat Pitcher) by Kenji Sonishi, which is serialized in Yomiuri Shimbun’s Sunday edition. As the name implies, it’s about a cat pitcher who takes part in professional baseball games. His cat-like plays are hilarious!
Even though they have equal popularity as pets, why is there so much cat manga? One theory is that the popularity of dogs is divided between larger dogs and small indoor types. Or perhaps, compared to usually obedient dogs, selfish, whimsical cats are a lot easier to make stories of and sympathize with.
It doesn’t look like the demand for cat manga will run out anytime soon! If you want to make a one-shot hit, perhaps you should consider drawing a cat manga!?
* The pet information is based on Anikomu Katei Dobutsu Hakusho 2014. Dogs are actually ever so slighty more popular but it’s almost equal.