Krystallina: The animal kingdom is made up of millions of species, but no two species are closer to people’s hearts than cats and dogs. While many households have one or the other, Hidekichi Matsumoto has both. And in With a Dog AND a Cat, Every Day is Fun, Matsumoto explores some of her everyday adventures with her two pets.
English manga readers probably won’t recognize the name Hidekichi Matsumoto, but they recognize the title Sabagebu! -Survival Game Club!-. She created the original manga, which is unavailable in English. I imagine schoolgirls with toy guns is problematic in America, but dogs and cats? Can’t get more wholesome than that!
Most of With a Dog AND a Cat, Every Day is Fun volume 1 is made up of two-page comics, one page focused on her dog (Inu) and the second on her cat (Neko). The two are basically Garfield and Odie: Inu is a high energy, fun-lovin’ dog while Neko is moody and a nightly food thief. To Matsumoto, they’re both her precious pets, even when they get in the way of her work or take over her bed. Pet parents will nod in understanding at accidentally getting their pet hyped up for food or chuckle at the difficulties in getting that perfect pic. Most of these anecdotes end with a small real-life pic of Neko to emphasize his The Godfather-like attitude.
While the content is for a general audience, unlike Vertical’s release of Chi’s Sweet Home, this manga is presented in Eastern reading order. The physical version also has a rather rough cover that reminded me of sandpaper. I didn’t care for it, but that’s not a big deal. What is a bigger deal and could turn people off from this series is the art. These are sketches and quick comics, the type you’d usually see as a bonus feature in a traditionally serialized manga release. With a Dog AND a Cat, Every Day is Fun volume 1 has no color inserts or anything, so if you find the cartoony Neko and Inu on the cover not your cup of tea, you might want to skip this. As a gag comedy, Matsumoto includes a lot of goofy faces for rage, happiness, and fear. Again, think of this as a Japanese, slice of life version of Garfield.
There are some additional tales to shake up the focus on Inu and Neko, like Matsumoto volunteering at an animal shelter or calling a psychic. Those were generally the weakest chapters, and I’m glad they were limited in number. The manga includes bonuses like four-panel comics, additional shots of her adorable Neko and Inu, and side stories. Her meeting Inu and Neko (separately) are both fun and, like most of the manga, brought a smile to my face. But the one about her editor remembering Matsumoto’s previous dog and causing her to burst into tears hit too close to home for me.
Obviously, though, With a Dog AND a Cat, Every Day is Fun is not meant to make you cry; it’s meant to be something to make you laugh and relate. I imagine some non-dog lovers will be taken aback at how demanding dogs can be while those who are meh on cats will wonder why anyone would invest so much time in an animal that tends to ignore you. Dog and cat lovers, though, will completely understand Matsumoto’s gaga attitude…and the occasional horror of not having peace even when going to the bathroom. Most audiences will probably enjoy this manga, but some readers may be more the type to enjoy this type of comedy in short bursts rather than a full collection like this.
Krystallina’s rating: 4 out of 5
Helen: Hidekichi Matsumoto has grown up with many pets and right now she has three: a cat, a dog, and a lizard (not the subject of this manga). Inu-kun is an air-headed, excitable dog while Neko-sama is a grumpy, lord-of-the-roost cat. Between all of them, they keep Matsumoto’s days as a work from home manga artist busy and exciting!
With a Dog and a Cat, Every Day is Fun is a story that will feel very familiar to animal lovers but especially to pet lovers. Matsumoto makes no bones of the fact that her animals are rarely perfect angels and that sometimes the stereotypes about cats and dogs are true. In fact, the story of how she got the dog (as a puppy from a pet store) vs. the cat (literally rescued from the gutter) reminded me a lot of a viral tweet about how dog and cat owners view their pets and I wonder if Matsumoto is aware of that joke and just how on the nose it is.
While I do think Matsumoto sometimes expects the very worst from Neko-sama, (honestly the real photos of him in the manga don’t look that grumpy to me) it’s true that some cats are simply jerks so I can believe that Neko-sama isn’t as gregarious as some I’ve known. Inu-san, on the other hand, seems a little dumber than some dogs I’ve known (like the king spaniel I lived with for a few years who barked at me whenever I came in the door like she had never seen me before) but not much dumber honestly! Truly, one of the strangest things about humanity might be how we domesticated animals to create lovable, but also very dumb, co-dependent species.
This manga, originally (and currently) serialized on Matsumoto’s Twitter feed, does get repetitive so your continued enjoyment of the story will depend on how invested you are in pets, especially with the fairly basic, almost workmanlike art. Each chapter is about two pages long, about a gag that usually involves both the cat and dog, and almost all of them end with a real picture of Neko-sama. It’s the same one every time! I wish Matsumoto had mixed things up and used different photos from time to time, after all I’m sure she takes many photos of Neko-sama that could be used (although, there are a few gags about Neko-sama being rather unphotogenic, that just means you need to take even more photos though!). I suspect the story feels less repetitive when it’s read in single updates week to week vs. in a slim but full volume like this one so it may be better to plan to read this story in chunks.
I was entertained however and, for a story with “fun” in the title, that’s exactly what I’m hoping for.
Helen’s rating: 3 out of 5