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Chi's Sweet Home, Vol. 1
posted August 2, 2010
Vertical, Inc., softcover, 168 pages, June 2010, $13.95
9781934287811 (ISBN13), 1934287814 (ISBN10)
It's baffling to me as America's favorite armchair publisher why there hasn't been a rush on translated versions of Japan's supposedly rich vein of pet manga. Holding the first volume of Chi's Sweet Home
in my hands and thinking like one of those reviewers obsessed with the market reception of the comics they engage, I see a comic that functions as a fairly complicated comics-reading experience and
as an unsophisticated paean to the joys of pet ownership through the simple virtues of home and love that an animal can reinforce within a family unit. Its multiple panels per page, varied layouts and irregular application of its lead kitty's "voice" are certain to be balanced out for its intended audience by an understated and warm color theme, measured pacing and simple character dynamics.
The character dynamics -- the characters themselves -- prove a bit too simplistic for my taste, and I think along with the predictable nature of the unfolding plot it's the fact the book is stocked from central casting that keeps Chi's Sweet Home
from being a special comic in the way it was obvious Yotsuba&!
had that potential about ten pages in. I have no idea where Yotsuba&!
is going ten pages later but I think I could have plotted out the first several chapters of Chi's Sweet Home
with about 95 percent accuracy. Still, it's well-executed within the various restrictive choices it makes and there's a lot for any older comics fan to appreciate as their kid moons over the cute drawings and the pining for home and mother and returned love that if it captures their attention in just the way the author intends can make a nice book that kid's
special one. If the series continues to be this solid, perhaps we'll even forgive translator Ed Chavez for all those w's taking the place of r's. A bit too pwecious, that.