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When a Cat Faces West, Volume 1 Review


Publisher Summary


Flow—the phenomenon that occurs when matter falls out of balance and changes form. Flow creates oddities big and small that can be disruptive or delightful in equal measure, and it's up to Flow Disposal departments and independent contractors to shepherd the Flow back to its natural form. For Chima Kondo, a 35-year-old woman stuck in the body of a 12-year-old thanks to the effects of Flow, understanding how Flow works and how to disperse it has become critical. But when she joins Flow Disposal contractors Hirota and Shacho of Hirota Flow Inc., she finds that there's more to Flow than she once knew, and plenty more to find out... A supernatural story from the author of Mushishi!


I received this as an ARC through Netgalley. Thank you for allowing me to review this! This review was originally from May 23rd, 2022, before we created the Behind the Manga site.


Background

 

As the publisher summary mentioned, this series was illustrated and written by the creator of Mushishi, Yuki Urushibara. I picked up this volume because I had heard so many great things about Mushishi, but had yet to read it. I thought this would be a good taste of what Urushibara's manga is like.


When a Cat Faces West originally ran in the seinen magazine Afternoon starting in 2018, and is a completed series with three volumes. It was published as a digital-only release by Kodansha USA.


Review

 

The main conflict of When a Cat Faces West is quite interesting: space-time fluctuations known as "Flow" randomly appear across the world due to strong emotions or other phenomenon. It's the job of Flow experts to find these anomalies and correct them by finding the cause and dealing with it. However, some types of Flow are complete mysteries that can't always be solved. Such a circumstance is the case for Chima Kondo, a 35-year-old office worker whose body regressed to a 12-year-old's. She isn't sure how to reverse it, and the Flow has completely disrupted the life she once had.


When a Cat Faces West has an intriguing enough story, but felt very slow for me. However, "going with the flow" (pun intended) of life, slowing down to look around and enjoy what is around us, is likely a big theme here. I was able to put this manga down and struggle to pick it up several times as I read. This is more of a personal preference problem than a fault of the mangaka's, but others who prefer a faster-paced story might feel the same.


As for the artwork, the art style wasn't for me. It feels quite rough and the faces aren't always that detailed. Sometimes eyes are slightly off balance or perspective. I must mention that the backgrounds help tie it together since the characters don't overpower them. Instead, everything feels as if it fits together quite homogeneously. The atmosphere is mysterious, yet calming and dream-like. I can appreciate it even if it isn't exactly my taste.


Final Thoughts

 

This was the start of a series with a neat concept to it, but it didn't hook or draw me into it like I had hoped. Slow beginnings don't always bother me, but this one couldn't grab my attention. Since it's short, it's not a series you have to be super dedicated to following for years in order to reach any significant conclusions from.


Verdict: Get it on sale.

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