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The Cat Proposed by Dento Hayane

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ARC was given by NetGalley and LOVE x LOVE in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (February 23rd, 2021)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Suicidal ideation and mentions of attempted suicide

“That day… I took a story by the hand.”

It’s very easy for me to fall in love with a manga and The Cat Proposed is no exception! I fell head over heels in love with the manga. Despite the dark themes of this book, I really enjoyed my time reading it. I really wish we would see more of this book or see it turned into a series. I’ve always loved the lore and mythology of the bakeneko of Japanese culture and knowing this manga exists, ugh, it filled my heart with so much warmth and excitement.

“We may be completely different, but I still want you.”

Our story follows Souta Matoi, a company worker, who’s contemplating suicide because nothing has changed, his life seems to be stuck in a terrible loop. Living the same routine day in and day out, overworked by his company, a deep exhaustion has set into his bones and he desperately wants to make a change. Then one fateful night Souta decides to change the routine by going to a kōdan storytelling. And that’s when his whole world begins to change. Starting with meeting Kihachi, the kōdan storyteller.

I really loved the way the author portrayed Souta and Kihachi. Though they seem like absolute polar opposites of one another, the chemistry between them is perfection. Souta is very timid and bashful, has a hard time expressing how they feel, declaring what they want. Whereas Kihachi is the opposite. Not only is Kahachi a bakeneko, but he’s very upfront about what he wants and direct with how things will work between one another. Also, they’re both sensitive beings who care very deeply for others. They’re both the type of people who puts everyone before their needs. And they just balance each other out so well. There’s some really hilarious side characters we get to meet as well. Yamabuki is absolutely hilarious and I enjoyed the little pokes of fun he has with Kihachi. Also, he’s a lover of stories like Kihachi is and somehow, between all their banter, you can tell they’re long-time friends!

“The light in the darkness is twinkling beautifully.”

If you haven’t guessed already, this manga involves Japanese mythology and folklore. Bakeneko appear a lot throughout Japanese history and culture. From works of literature and landmarks all the way to famous legends, bakeneko have played a role in Japan’s mythology and folklore. Most commonly found within the Endo period, but don’t quote me on that since there’s a chance they appeared during the Kamakura period with the nekomata, since they’re so similar. But I really loved how the author took that mythology and knowledge to weave their own tale. I think the author did a fantastic job of bringing to life the world of bakeneko and finding a way to encourage the reader to learn more about this mythology.

While I know it’s a dark turn of things, I want to take a moment to pause and appreciate the way the author wrote about suicide in this book. I think the author did really well at talking about what it means to be suicidal, to have suicidal thoughts, and to feel such a bone deep exhaustion that’s almost suffocating. And on top of that, I love how the author made sure to show how one person can save us from and how important little acts of kindness, endearment can truly make a difference. I thought it was beautifully and respectfully written.

Overall, I just really loved this manga. I truly wish the author would consider turning this into a series because I have no doubt that I would purchase the whole series for my manga collection. I loved it so, so much! I adored the characters, I really wanted to see more of the bakeneko community and their world. There’s so much untapped potential with this one book and honestly, I want more. I’m excited to see what this author will do next and I’m so glad I got to read an arc of this manga early.

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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