Well, it's time to start wrapping things up with something warm and fuzzy. Naturally, what else could be warmer and fuzzier than a manga about a kitten?
FUKUFUKU: KITTEN TALES (FukuFuku Funyan Koneko da Nyan), by Konami Konata. First published in 2013 and first published in North America in 2016.
FukuFuku is a mischievous kitten. His attempts at play delight and charm his elderly owner as well the other cats in his neighborhood.
Yeah...there's not a lot of story to be found here. Even more so Konata's other cat manga, FukuFuku is very slight with practically no story to speak of. I imagine a lot of people will dismiss it as just a ripoff of Chi's Sweet Home and leave it at that. Doing so is doing FukuFuku a disservice, though. If anything, this is cute cat manga boiled down to the purest essence.
It's true that FukuFuku doesn't have the story hooks that lent some depth to Chi's Sweet Home. His owner doesn't need to hide him or move, and FukuFuku doesn't have any concerns beyond food, play, doing whatever he feels like, and getting his way through sheer cuteness. It's technically a flashback, but for the most part it's just the reader following FukuFuku and his owner through the seasons. At most, we get a dream sequence themed around Alice In Wonderland, and stands out like a sore thumb because everything else is so un-fantastical. At least all the scenarios (save for that one) feel true to life, even if you yourself aren't an old traditional Japanese lady. Konata still knows how to make the most of each pounce and meow, and the result is always amusing and adorable. It also helps that FukuFuku is a very different cat from Chi. Chi was a blissful baby, always happy and curious about her world. In comparison, FukuFuku is more willful, even bratty. As much as I love Chi, FukuFuku feels more like an actual cat, full of contrariness. So while it ultimately may be slight, FukuFuku is still enjoyable in its own right and distinct from its predecessor.
Admittedly, Konata doesn't do a lot of things different when it comes to her art. Aside from his coloration, FukuFuku looks, moves, and emotes just like Chi. His elderly owner is drawn in very much the same simple, pudgy style that she draws people in. Her panels are still sparse and simply put together. The big difference is that his owner lives in a traditional Japanese home, but all that means is that the backgrounds involve paper doors and tatami mats instead of a typical, everyday apartment. It adds some visual flavor, but not much more beyond that. Otherwise, Konata knows what works for her art-wise and isn't going to change what already works.
FukuFuku's charms are simple, and sometimes that's all you need to make a manga enjoyable. It's not Chi 2.0, but it's got enough differences to make its own mark among cat fanciers.
This series is published by Vertical. This series is complete in Japan with 2 volumes available. 1 volume has been published and is currently in print.
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