Manga (literally “whimsical pictures”) are comics that are created in Japan that center around a Japanese art style that was developed in the late 19th century. Even if you’ve never read any manga before, you would be familiar with some of its most well-known subjects. Anime (Japanese animation) that you recognize, such as Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z, began as serialized manga before being adapted for TV. Manga influence is especially heavy throughout Asia, particularly in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan (manhua), and Korea (manhwa).
Okay, brief backstory aside, and regardless of whether you call it manga/manhua/manwha, there is a genre for everyone. We will draw from all the many genres as we continue Manga Monday, but, for our first one ever, we’re going to start with what’s called shoujo (“young girl”) manga. In a nutshell, this subset of manga is written and targeted at young female audiences. The narrative styles are far-reaching, from science fiction to historical drama. The focus is most often on romance and emotion–and, if you’re a young adult fiction reader, you will love it.
Nekota no Koto ga Kininatte Shikatanai
I’m So Interested in Nekota That I Can’t Help Myself.
10 Volumes (Complete)
Shoujo, Mystery, Comedy, Romance, School Life
While this series has a freaking long title, it’s worth every word. In short, Nekota is about an elementary school aged girl named Mikiko, “Mikki” for short, who has been transferred from school to school for most part of her school life due to her dad’s employment. When she lands in her latest school, she goes in with little motivation to make friends–she’s just going to be moved again, anyway. However, once she meets the “it boy” of her new sixth grade class she notices something off about him. As in, he has a head of a cat. And she’s the only one who sees it. Thus, the plot throws into full gear as Mikki works to get closer to Nekota to find out how in the world he came to have a cat face, and just why she’s the only one that can see it!
Nekota is one of a smaller genre of elementary-aged shoujo manga that hits everything right on the nail. I actually was wary over its popularity–how in the world could a manga about a kid with a cat head be good? Oh, but it is good. So good. It’s not only a great mystery, the pacing is excellent, the humor is on spot, and the characters are wonderfully real. Even with a cat head, Nekota is a character full of emotion–and a very lovable one, at that.
Nekota is yet to be licensed in the U.S., but since the series has ended in Japan I would love to see it officially translated and distributed here. To me, Nekota is a perfect first read if you’re just jumping into the manga world, so to have it fully accessible to read in English I may possibly gift it to all my non-manga readers. Seriously, it’s that good. Clever, concise, and comedic. Everything a great manga needs!