Manga Review: Cat + Gamer

Title: Cat + Gamer (猫暮らしのゲーマーさん, Nekogurashi no Gēmā-san)

Mangaka: Wataru Nadatani

US Publisher: Dark Horse

Status: Ongoing

Age Relevance: Elementary & Up

How Essential Is It?: Must Have (According to Me)

Curricular Connections?: Independent reading.

Reader’s Advisory Tags: Video games, cats, female protagonists, humor.

Content Warnings: None!

Publisher Synopsis:

Riko, a twenty-nine-year-old office worker with an obsession for video games, finds her quiet life upended when she takes in a stray cat in this adorable manga series!

Her coworkers can’t quite figure her out—she never talks about her personal life, she never works overtime, and she never joins them for happy hour. Is she antisocial? Nope, she’s rushing home to play video games! One day, a stray cat is found in the office parking lot, and before Riko knows it, the cat has moved in with her! Having no experience with pets, Riko uses lessons drawn from video games to guide her in cat care, while her cute companion tries to understand her behavior through a cat’s worldview.

Available for the first time in English! By Wataru Nadatani, this is the first volume in this cute, fun, and heart-warming story of a gamer learning to live with a cat!

If you know me, you know I have a weakness for cat manga. And in my personal opinion, the greatest cat mangaka working right now is Wataru Nadatani. Nadatani-sensei is simply a master of cat illustration, and I have been a fan of Cat + Gamer since it began serialization on Sunday Webry for Shonen Sunday S. This is the ultimate manga for cat fans AND gamers, and when those two intersect… well, this manga is the ideal manga.

The plot is fairly simple: an office lady, Riko, finds herself taking a cat home from the office one day. Riko is hard-working, but really works to support her gaming habit, so even she’s surprised when she takes in this wayward cat. She quickly becomes obsessed with the idea of cat ownership as having similar qualities to a video game, and decides she will level up her cat to be the best cat. This cat, Musubi, has no idea what any of this means, and is really just here to be adorable and pose with video game paraphernalia. The chapters then follow episodic moments in their lives as they acclimate to life together and each other’s quirks.

Although the protagonist, Riko, is an adult, the overall story is still appealing to younger audiences because of the cute cat hijinks and the focus on video games over Riko’s life as an OL (office lady). In many ways, the manga is about both how to raise a cat and the basics of Japanese video game culture. This focus is why the series ultimately has a younger appeal and is relevant to all ages. There truly is something for everyone, unless for some blasphemous reason the person doesn’t like cats (which is preposterous).

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