Story/Art: Atsushi Okada
Translation: Caleb D. Cook
Lettering: Rochelle Gancio
What They Say:
All hell breaks loose for Ryuusei and Taiga when the Goblin Cat Tails’ top cat shows up to the party, but there’s something else about the calico boss that’s got Ryuusei’s tongue!
With rumors of another uninvited rival going around, it’ll take more than strong jellybean toes for the Nekonaki cats to protect their fish!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Of all the things Nyankees is incredibly entertaining at doing, maybe my favorite is creating this very believable world and even lowkey economy of what life as a stray cat would be like. There are enforcers who have underlings, like Sango, that protect everyone weaker than her. Then there are the more group-like Nekonaki cats that protect each other, though Ryuusei is clearly king. They get food from donations of scraps from the local izakaya, and otherwise scrounge for themselves. And they see this area as their territory. It reminds me a lot of creating your own world in dnd, though with different fantasy(?) elements.
So when Sango comes by with her whole new way of living, it’s a shock to the other cats, who never even considered living under someone that is an enforcer like Sango. It’s creating more depth to this world that we’ve previously been exposed to, but it’s not introducing things too fast. Sango seems to be a wanderer, going wherever there are cats that need protection, and that doesn’t encroach on what the Nekonaki cats are doing. The best, or at least the least overwhelming stories, are able to add these elements without ever feeling like it’s too much all at once, and at least so far Nyankees hasn’t extended beyond it’s perceived reach or tried to do too much with what it’s already set out.
That all to say that, when they added a house cat to the Nekonaki ranks, it felt so seamless and obvious that I wondered why a house cat hadn’t been in the story before. But of course one hadn’t! It wouldn’t have made sense in the context of the story that was being told up to that point. But a minor wrinkle like a house cat in the second volume is a much better place to add an element that wasn’t there previously—a thing that of course exists in this world, but they’re not strays, so why are they relevant? But the ignorance and innocence of the house cat in this stray world just brings the final parts of this volume together. Someone running away from that fight, as the spotted cat stole their izakaya food, wouldn’t gel with the Nekonaki cats.
And now that the Nekonaki cats have some other cats coming after them for some unknown reason, all the more to raise the stakes by having this house cat they’re protecting exist at all. They have skin in the game, or fur as it were.
Nyankees is so, so much fun, and maybe my favorite element of the entire manga is the switch between these human forms and the cat forms. It’s never explained, and I hope it never is. While a yanki manga about these warring gangs might not capture my interest as much, or a cutesy cat manga about warring cats, the interspersion of both creates some sort of manga alchemy that is just extremely tickling to me.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: April 23, 2019