Review: The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home Volume 1

A young kitten wanders away from her mother and siblings while out on a walk and is found by a young boy and his mother. The Yamadas take the kitten in, and in the process of trying to find a home for her, she ends up wiggling her way into their hearts, despite their apartment […]

A young kitten wanders away from her mother and siblings while out on a walk and is found by a young boy and his mother. The Yamadas take the kitten in, and in the process of trying to find a home for her, she ends up wiggling her way into their hearts, despite their apartment complex being a “no pet” zone.

Review: The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home Part 1
chi_complete_v_1By Konami Kanata
All Ages
Vertical Comics, July 2015; ISBN: 978-1942993162
480 pgs; $24.95 USD

It’s hard to resist adorable kittens, which makes Chi’s Sweet Home a series nearly impossible to turn away from. It follows the adventures of Chi, a cute, grey-and-white-striped tabby, and the young family that finds her and takes her in, the Yamadas.

Chi, being a kitten, is full of energy. She bounces around, exploring her new home and doing all the things that make cats cute and sometimes not-so-cute. She is playful, pouncing on plastic grocery bags and “hunting prey” whether it’s bouncy balls or the strip off of a box. When she gets going, she can leave chaos in her wake, knocking over glasses and making a mess of Mr. Yamada’s desk. She is a cat, so she can be demanding of attention, and incredibly curious, checking out the content of coffee cups, and even braving the bathtub when it is full of water and toys. She is also a kitten, so at the start, she talks like a baby, often sounding like Tweetie bird from the Looney Tunes cartoons, but as the book goes on, it becomes less prevalent.

Chi quickly takes to her new family. She and Yohei, the young boy, bond very quickly. They learn to use the toilet together, and Chi helps Yohei sleep on his own. They are almost like siblings, even getting into fights over blankets, food, and toys. They develop a bond so strong that Yohei tries to run away with Chi when they finally find a family that will take her. While Chi does become attached to all the family members, Mr. and Mrs. Yamada tend to be the main source of trauma for her. Her journey to the vet with Mr. Yamada earns him her scorn for a few chapters. Mrs. Yamada can be scary when she catches Chi sharpening her claws on the couch and eating her plants. Despite these moments, the humans care for Chi, and she comes to accept them as her new family.

Chi’s only other friend is another cat who also lives secretly in the complex, only he and his owners are less discreet. Known as the “Bear Cat” for his size, this black cat wanders around the complex, stealing food from other apartments and patrolling the area as his marked territory. He becomes a sort of big brother to Chi, showing her how to do cat-like things like hunting for prey, avoiding dogs, and eating grass. Blackie can be frustrated by Chi’s enthusiasm as well, but he is patient with her, and even grooms her.

There is a lot of humor in this title, mostly from Chi’s antics. She does a lot of the things that make kittens cute, from preferring the plastic bag some cat toys came in to the toys themselves, to batting crumpled paper around. Chi’s sheer joy in the little things is infectious and hard not to smile at. Not everything goes Chi’s way, though, and those moments can be just as funny. Her reaction to dogs, cars, and the hair dryer were hilarious. What really makes the humor work is Kanata’s art. She makes Chi so expressive that you don’t need to be able to read to see how Chi is feeling. She gives Chi so many expressions, from joy to fear to anger to contentment, that just one look will tell you everything you need to know. Kanata truly understands cats and what it is about them that makes them so appealing to us.

There are also some more serious moments in this volume. For the first several chapters, Chi still remembers her mother, and she keeps trying to get back to her. She wanders the Yamadas’ apartment trying to find a way out. These times when she misses her mother can be sad, but some love and attention from the Yamadas usually cheers her up. At the end of this volume, Chi loses her only cat friend and has trouble dealing with that, but she finds some comfort that even if she can’t see him now, he is still out there. It was a heartwarming moment when she came to that realization.

The art is simple and clean, with a flat, cartoonish feel to it. All of the characters are distinct and easily recognizable. This book is in color, using a warm palette and a watercolor style to give the book a soft, gentle feel.

This omnibus edition collects the first three volumes, which completes the first arc of the series. It is larger than the individual volumes and includes all the original extras as well as some new ones. There is a special chapter where Chi meets Kanata’s previous cat creation, FukuFuku, an older, grumpier cat who lives with an elderly woman. There are also two chapters from Kanata’s new series, FukuFuku: Kitten Tales, which shows FukuFuku as a kitten and will be published by Vertical Comics in 2016.

The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home is a true all ages titles that anyone, young or old, cat lover or not, will enjoy. The stories will bring a smile to your face and warm your heart.


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