Nekota no Koto ga Ki ni Natte Shikatanai.
I’m So Interested in Nekota That I Can’t Help Myself.
Shoujo – Comedy, mystery, romance, supernatural
7 Volumes (ongoing)
Mikiko (aka Mikki) has transferred schools once again. The sixth grader isn’t interested in making deep friendships since she’ll be with these classmates for only a year. But Mikki is shocked to see her new seatmate is a boy with a cat-head! Strangely enough, everyone else sees Nekota as a good-looking boy. What’s going on?
I’m so interested in Nekota no Koto ga Ki ni Natte Shikatanai. that I can’t help myself.
Yes, I had to open with that.
So what would you do if you kept seeing a classmate’s head as that of a cat but no one else did? Check yourself into the nearest mental hospital? Believe that’s his real face? Or would you become obsessed with finding out the truth, much to the bewilderment of others? Well, in Nekota no Koto ga Ki ni Natte Shikatanai., Mikiko (Mikki) chooses the latter, and the result is a fun read.
Mikki can’t figure out why her seatmate has the head of a cat. Other classmates mention Nekota is a cool guy, so Mikki knows she’s the only one seeing cat-boy. As a result, she becomes focused on gaining Nekota’s attention in ways that confuse everyone. Mikki tries to team up with Nekota at every turn, but she also is subject to bursts of laughter at Nekota’s cat-boy form. Her erratic behavior isn’t too strange or creepy even for manga. It’s not like she follows him home or anything; Mikki just buys all his photos and boldly declares she’s interested in being his friend and no one else’s. Fortunately, Nekota is a pretty relaxed guy. He’s understandably annoyed at Mikki’s odd comments and her sometimes stalkerish behavior, but Nekota admits he has fun hanging around Mikki… and realizes he probably can’t escape her anyway.
So while this seems like a laugh-out-loud comedy, Nekota no Koto ga Ki ni Natte Shikatanai. is more than that: it is a coming-of-age story. Mikki tries to deal with the physical and emotional changes of being 12- and 13-years-old. For instance, Mikki is pretty oblivious to love. Unlike many authors who make their manga heroines obtuse for the sake of dragging out the love story, it feels natural here with an elementary/middle school protagonist. Mikki is really experiencing true friendship for the first time, and the thought of being in love just doesn’t occur to her. Of course, being a shoujo series, romance and love triangles play a part, but I like how rivals are introduced in a “you’re still young and will meet many people” aspect instead of “can’t get the main couple together until the end” sort of way. In addition, Mikki has to deal with her body going through puberty. The manga doesn’t try to force these subjects. They are all just a natural part of Mikki, Nekota, and the gang growing up. This makes the manga surprisingly touching.
Despite Mikki’s Nekota obsession, she is actually a great heroine. She’s a bit of a tomboy and is a bit thick-headed, not realizing when people are talking about her behind her back. But she faces problems head-on. Even when she’s threatened to be isolated by other the girls, she tells her would-be bully, “Do what you want.” No tears, no worried monologues. In one chapter, Mikki gets locked in a storage room. Does she cry and wait for someone to save her? No, she immediately tries to escape. Amazing! What a concept! She’s the type of character who probably could have ended up being the prince of an all-girls school. Meanwhile, the titular Nekota is fairly calm without being standoffish. He’s a bit mysterious (not just because of his cat-head) but because we don’t get to see things from his point-of-view. He balances out the hyperactive Mikki, but he is the quiet friendly sort. A lot of guys would be less forgiving of girls who randomly grab and pull on his face. As for supporting characters, they are divided into friends and rivals from elementary school and friends and rivals from middle school. So some characters end up mostly disappearing while others don’t show up until later. A lot of them are fairly typical, but even Mikki’s guy friends (which other manga would mostly just use as filler in scenes) get some attention. Mikki’s new friend in middle school also adds a fun dynamic to the manga. This series is still definitely centered around Mikki and Nekota though.
The art is definitely Ribon-ish. I think Outa’s art reminds me the most of Maki Yoko’s, but if you have read any manga done by Ribon authors (Haruta Nana, Sakai Mayu, etc.), the art will look familiar. Of course, the highlight is Nekota’s face. He has no mouth, so it’s always funny to see an enlarged cat head hanging around the classroom. He actually looks like a cookie, but he still comes across as cool and cute in his scenes. Outa does tease the readers (and Mikki) with Nekota’s true face, and this part reminds me a bit of Honey So Sweet with the male lead’s face often being hidden. Outa is still pretty new to the manga business, so she has some room for improvement. Mikki’s hair seems to vary sometimes in length and thickness. There’s one shot where Mikki and Nekota look more like they’re hovering above the grass rather than walking in it. You can see Outa start to iron out some of these issues in later volumes, but otherwise, the art is really secondary to the plot. There’s some cute images, but I like the story more.
Chance of License:
As a Ribon title, Viz Media would be the most likely to pick it up. Ribon series aren’t always quick to be licensed (except for Tanemura Arina’s manga), but several others like Aishiteruze Baby, St. Dragon Girl, and Ultra Maniac have been released under the Shojo Beat line. The Viz Select imprint released Chocolate Cosmos digitally. Tokyopop once picked up manga like Marmalade Boy and Kodocha, so perhaps a third party could release this series. That was a long time ago though. If you’d like to see Nekota get an English release, ask Viz Media/Shojo Beat. The digital-only Viz Select imprint could also license it, but I’d rather see Shojo Beat pick it up so the manga can get a physical release. Series with younger protagonists are pretty rare in English, and they can be a difficult sell since many readers view these types of series as childish. Several series with elementary and middle school protagonists have found success in the U.S. like Cardcaptor Sakura, Shugo Chara!, and Sugar Sugar Rune. The series is still ongoing, so any English license would probably catch up quickly to the Japanese release, making some volumes have a long wait until more chapters of the monthly series are compiled. I’m guessing it will only run for a couple more volumes based on the story progression though. It’s not impossible, but Nekota no Koto ga Ki ni Natte Shikatanai. is probably not be at the top of anyone’s “must license” list.
Nekota no Koto ga Ki ni Natte Shikatanai. is the type of series that puts a smile on my face. I smile at the humorous scenes, and I smile at the cute fluff. I would love to see an English release.
Nekota no Koto ga Ki ni Natte Shikatanai. has been made into a few anime shorts. I hope someday it’ll be made into a full series.