Cat Street is Life… Love… Perfection

Volume 1 of Cat Street

My review writing skills are getting a little rusty with my growing pile of responsibilities for my capstone and journalism classes, but it’s back to the blog thanks to my Radio and TV Internet Applications class. Oh, the joys of mandatory blogging.

Over the break I had a little time for reading and stumbled upon a gem of a manga called Cat Street. I was a little hesitant after reading the description (trust me, you can judge a manga by its cover) on Manga Fox, but it’s popularity rank gave me enough incentive to click through and… it hit me. The storyline, the characters, the dialogue–it sucked me in all at once.

The story opens with 16-year-old Keito Aoyama, a has-been child star who broke under pressure during her broadway debut. After years of withdrawing from society, she is approached by a mysterious man with an elusive offer: Attend a free school for special students and escape her hermit existence. Despite her resistance, an old classmate pops into the picture and encourages her to start a new life. Keito begins a total transformation of the heart when she makes friends for the first time and rediscovers the joys of being a kid.

“Slice-of-life” is one of those genres of manga that can either really resonate with a reader or completely bomb. And when you add an idealistic shoujo romance to the mix, it’s usually a recipe for disaster. However, Cat Street differs from other mangas of this genre by steering away from storybook romance and into the psychology of the teenage brain. I mean, love doesn’t have one definition in real life, and Cat Street understands this by revealing multiple love triangles and interests–from school girl crush to soul mate lovers, Cat Street grabs your heart through the pain (and the bliss) of falling in love.

The best part? Keito doesn’t grow up in 3 volumes. The author, Kamio Youko, takes her time (as she most

I can die happy now.

famously does in Boys Over Flowers) and lets the readers watch Keito complete high school before she realizes where her heart belongs. I can’t tell you how many titles I’ve read where the heroine starts off messed up and is suddenly cured and in love by the end of volume 2. It’s just not realistic!

And you won’t want Cat Street to end when you meet the yummy male love interests! Taiyou, Rei, and Kouichi each embody different personalities of the typical high school boyfriend, but you’ll never be able to guess what happens next thanks to creative plot twists and turns.

Keito isn’t my favorite shoujo heroine, but by the end of the series, I was content with her transformation and new-found appreciation for life. Also, the art could be cleaner in some panels, but I know every mangaka can’t be a Matsui Hino.

Overall, Cat Street is one of those rare titles that will change your outlook on manga forever. I can barely pick up a cheese-filled one shot without craving the drama of Cat Street. Don’t believe me? Read a few chapters and tell me you aren’t obsessed!

Liz’s Rating: ★★★★★