Chi’s Sweet Home 3 by Konami Kanata: A-

From the back cover:
Kitten-rearing is something, but raising a street-smart feline in a building with a strict no-pets policy is another story altogether. When mentoring a curious kitty, tactful tabbies must teach with patience and a firm paw. Remember, cats are a special breed. While we can survive well enough on instinct, those same feline responses can lead to unwanted attention. This long-whiskered one recommends spending lots of time with your little furballs, for they will intuitively look for mischief unless thoroughly entertained.

I think I’d be perfectly happy if Chi’s Sweet Home simply offered episodic tales of exceptional kitty cuteness without bothering with any kind of cohesive narrative. That’s not something I’d say about just any series, but the scenarios are so familiar to any cat owner—the difficulty of capturing a feline’s cuteness on film, the tendency of cats to snag a claw on something—that they really work for me. The fact that the series does begin to develop a kind of narrative is just icing on the cake, then.

Chi has become friends with “Blackie,” a huge black tom cat who’s been making a nuisance of himself around the pets-prohibited building where Chi lives with the Yamada family. He’s her mentor, of sorts, teaching her how to hunt, how to claim turf by spraying, and how not to look down before leaping but to “smile and look ahead.” Here’s the adorable result of Blackie’s advice:

Alas, hanging around with Blackie has gotten Chi noticed by the superintendent, leading the Yamadas to debate what they’re going to do. I must say, for people who are trying to keep their cat from being spotted, they’ve certainly got a very casual attitude about leaving their patio door open. You’d think they’d try a bit harder. Eventually, after Chi is nearly captured but manages to escape and return home, she’s confined inside, which leads to a pathetic scene I’ve recently witnessed in my own home:

Rather than give up their cat, Blackie’s owners decide to move, and Chi’s gradual realization that her friend has gone away is adorable and touching. Although it’s pretty clear the Yamadas are not going to give Chi away, this storyline does touch a little bit on the responsibilities of pet ownership, and how often people take pets into their homes and lives without being able to properly care for them in the long term.

I wish the Yamada parents took their role a bit more seriously—it’s a shame when Yohei is the one to tell a rambunctious visiting cousin not to scare Chi—but at least they listen to their son when he insists Chi is part of the family.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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