The Grotesque Tales of Junji Ito — Part 5: Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu

The Grotesque Tales of Junji Ito — Part 5: Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu

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This is part five of a series of blogs dedicated to the works of Junji Ito that I have read. Previously, I explored ?Gyo? and the two short stories that contained within the larger fishier manga, ?The Sad Tale of The Principal Post? and ?The Enigma of Amigara Fault?. If you want to know what I think of those, a link to that blog can be found below.

The Grotesque Tales of Junji Ito ? Part 4: Gyo (+ 2 Short Stories)

Part 4 of a series where I discuss my thoughts and opinions on the works of Junji Ito. This part will focus on ?Gyo??

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There are some SPOILERS from this point onwards. Consider this your warning folks!

Image for postImage for postMy shoddy camera work didn?t do the covers justice this time, so these screenshots come from Amazon

Originally published almost 10 years ago at the time of writing (13th March 2009), ?Junji Ito?s Cat Diary? is a self-parody about Junji Ito and his wife (Ayako Ishiguro, whole coincidentally paints many a feline) living in a house with two cats, which is probably the closest thing to a Junji Ito autobiography we will ever get. There are no monsters, otherworldly beings or strange people with strange obsessions, this is purely J-kun and A-ko (which is what they are referred to as in the manga) and their cats, Yon and Mu.

It begins with Ayako Ishiguro getting Mu, a Norweigan Forest cat, who would act as a friend for Yon for his inevitable arrival into Junji Ito?s new house. What can immediately be noticed within these first few pages is that for the vast majority of the manga, Ayako Ishiguro is pupilless and thus looks incredibly creepy. I found this design choice to be immediately funny as it makes her seem like some strange ?crazy cat lady? archetype, which I can only imagine did wonders for Junji Ito?s relationship. At the very least, he has a sense of humour.

Image for postOm-nom-nom-nom-nom-nom!

Junji Ito himself also has a variety of spooky and yet wacky characterchures of himself, which pleased me, as I admire people who can make fun of themselves. The first of these incarnations is when Mu is bought home and Junji Ito instantly falls in love with him. It is still a very creepy image, but because of the context of the story, and the information the reader is told about his relationship with cats (ie, he doesn?t like them), this is a complete 180 on his own character and I loved that. For a moment, I thought he was actually going to eat the poor cat! I?m sure that was his intention to make us think that, which made his kissing and spinning around on the floor in the following panels really silly and enjoyable. That are many adorable moments like this found within the manga.

Image for postLook at the attention to detail! Those fine pen strokes for fur, and those buggy eyes!

Pleased that Junji Ito fell in love with the Mu, I was eager to read more of the story to see how he would grow on Yon, who is certainly an eccentric cat with strange markings on it?s back that resemble a skull that made me doubt whether this manga was a work of non-fiction. Throughout the manga, Yon is presented to be very weird looking, with his introduction being the most startling, as seen in the picture either above (or to the side of this paragraph, depending on how you are reading this blog). You know that an artist is pretty good if he can make an ordinary house cat look scary.

The introduction of the cats takes up the first two chapters (?Mu Appears? & ?Yon Attacks?) and it is from Chapter 3 onwards (?Battle of The Cat Wand!!?) that the manga really begins to take off. I am glad that I read this after reading several of Junji Ito?s horror stories, as ?Junji Ito?s Cat Diary? was a wonderful breath of fresh air that I personally found side-splitting hilarious, partly because I could relate to a lot of the material, as I?m a cat owner myself. The panels found in pages 74 and 75 (Chapter 7, ?King Yon?) had me in stitches, crying with laughter, as it is a war I had with one of my cats for many years.

Image for postMy favourite panels in the entire manga.

Extras

Scattered in this manga, there are little Q&A sections between Junji Ito and his editor, I-buchi that break up the narrative, offering a slight insight into the mind of Junji Ito and the creation of this manga. There are eight short questions spread found across seven pages within the manga for the reader to enjoy. I got the impression that the inclusion of these sections served to pad out the manga, as the book itself is very short, as well as pleasing the fans of Junji Ito.

Halfway into the book, there are actual pictures of Yon & Mu, that remove any doubt that Junji Ito has made up the eccentricities of Yon. It is a wonderful addition that made my heart melt with delight. Finally, there are some bonus stories that are very short, two of which take up a single page. I will not discuss these shorts as I would have to enter deep spoiler territory, and I do not wish to do that.

Coda

Image for postRescuing Yon in ?Yon?s Great Escape? (Chapter 6). I LOVE THESE FACES!!!

Junji Ito?s attention to detail in his illustrations is still as beautiful as ever in this comedy manga, as he carefully and brilliantly details the movements and weird behaviours of Yon and Mu, whilst retaining that wonderfully horrific warped style of his. I loved seeing all the things that Yon & Mu got up too. I laughed at their fight for the tower (Chapter 7), felt sorry for Junji Ito during many failed attempts to bond with the cats (most notably Chapter 4, ?The Events of One Late Night?) and worried for them as they got into all sorts of physical and health-related problems. Seeing the various quirks of Yon & Mu reminded me of my own furry weirdos making this a highly enjoyable read, making this a very good read. My one criticism is that, even with its various extra goodies, the manga is very short.

It is difficult to make an in-depth analysis of this manga, as it non-fiction and to go through any more than what I have provided will ruin this manga for you. If you love Junji Ito?s works, I highly recommend you buy it. I personally think this manga will be most appreciated by cat owners, as they will tell you that cats are very weird creatures, despite acting like they are gods. In short, if you are a cat-owning Junji Ito fan, this may well be the best manga you are ever going to read.

At the time of writing, I have officially run out of Junji Ito stories to review, analyse and just talk about how I liked (or didn?t like) them. I no doubt will purchase more of his works soon, which I will add to the bottom of this blog, and the first blog in this series, making it very clear that I have since read and reviewed more of his work. I look forward to picking up the series again, as it has been a nice break from doing the video game related stuff I have been used to writing (which you should definitely check out!). Now I can have a nice break from Junji Ito?s horror and go back to waffling on about video games. Yaaaaaaay!

Have you read ?Junji Ito?s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu?? If so, what are your thoughts on it? Do they remind you of your own felines? If so, how?

Let?s start a conversation, people!

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