Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Neko Ramen (Volume 1) by Kenji Sonishi (Story and Art)

Title:  Neko Ramen: Hey! Order Up!, Volume 1
Author:  Kenji Sonishi (Story and Art)
Audience:  Teen (Ages 13 and Up)

Taisho runs a ramen shop... and he's a cat.  The funny thing is, he doesn't think it's strange to have a cat make and sell ramen.  When you walk in to his shop, be prepared to have any ingredient or topping served in your bowl.  You can follow Taisho's adventures from starting out as a cat model to making his own way to a ramen chef with his own ramen shop.  You will meet a wide variety of characters along the way including Taisho's baby brothers.

Neko Ramen is not your average manga.  It is actually a yonkoma (or 4-koma) which is a gag comic strip.  It is sort of like short stories as each story is told in four panels starting from the top and finishing at the bottom.  Although the stories are not dependent on one another, they come together to create an overal  story that makes you fall in love with Taisho.  With Taisho in most of his scenes is the ever faithful customer Tanaka-san.  Through Tanaka-san we learn more about Taisho and his very strange life as a cat Ramen Chef.  This manga really is quite clever and funny and appeals to both people who like cats and ramen.  From extremely ridiculous ramen ingredients to learning about Taisho's secret past as a cat model, there are many laughs to be had.  Once you start reading you will not want to stop.

The art style to Neko Ramen is rather simplistic.  What really makes it fun to read are all the facial expressions.  There may not be much to the backgrounds or character designs, but the facial expressions really aid the storytelling process.

You can find the Neko Ramen manga by Kenji Sonishi on the CPL catalog.  If you enjoyed Neko Ramen, you may want to try Hetalia-Axis Powers by Hidekaz Himaruya or Chi's Sweet Home by Kanata Konami.

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