Junji Ito, master of horror manga, has a clear whimsical side. It comes through in everything he does, no matter how horrific the subject matter – the hideous hopping of Jack’s corpse in Uzumaki is the epitome of the man’s ability to balance fear and hilarity. This particular talent of his is more evident than ever in his short manga story, Junji Ito’s Cat Diary.
An autobiographical account of his coming to terms with cat ownership, there’s something familiar in there for anyone familiar with cats – especially the reluctant cat owners, those poor souls who don’t understand the peculiar joys and heartaches of owning a cat until they’re forced into the situation.
When Junji moves in with his fiancée, he forgets that her cat Yon is coming with them. Affectionately known as the “cat with a cursed face”, Junji is certain that the cat’s influence will curse the house, and things get even worse when A-Ko decides to adopt another cat to keep Yon company. Suddenly Junji’s life is about cat-proofing the walls, hauling in cat toys and surrendering space to these new fluffy creatures.
But no matter how much you may resist, the cuteness of cats will get you.
As adamant as he is that he won’t allow the cats to change his life, he grows monstrous as he tries and fails to resist his temptation to virtually devour the cat whole. Much of his anxiety is based around Yon, while he becomes more easily attached to Muu, but – as any cat owner will understand – domestic life quickly becomes a battle of dominion over each of the cats.
Junji has a lot to learn about cat ownership. They won’t snuggle when you want them to; they won’t play unless you wave the toy the right way; and sometimes when you’re deliriously tired they will look like giant slugs or snakes (at least now they will – thanks Junji!)
But there are also the victories, and they’re all the more precious for being hard won. The first time Muu collapses purring in his arms – driving his fiancée crazy – he looks incredibly happy. Whenever a character gives into their insatiable lust for kitty snuggles their eyes become glazed with joy, and Junji himself experiences that magnetic need to make friends with all cats he meets.
Some of it is whimsical, some disturbing – mostly it consists of the everyday occurrences in the life of a cat owner, but showcased in that distinctive Junji Ito way.
It’s not very long, and available here – it gets my hearty recommendation if you are, at the very least, cat sympathetic.
Plus, photos of the starring kitties!