Bai Cha’s “My Cat Hates Me” is a Manhua Must-Read for Pet Lovers || Review (ARC)

Do you ever imagine about what your cat might be thinking about you? As an owner of two thick and snooty tabby cats, I certainly do. Cats are known for their dismissive, snarky daytime personalities and cuddly, doting nighttime behavior. They showcase a range of emotions, much like you and I do. Young (and handsome) Chinese comic artist Bai Cha is the owner of one particularly haughty house cat. Perhaps because of his fiendish feline he decided to pen this purr-fect pictorial of Your Highness, the cat with a royal personality.

My Cat Hates Me chronicles the misdemeanors of Your Highness, an arrogant cat who believes himself emperor of the house, and his normie owner, “the kiddo.” The two share a mostly symbiotic relationship, except for the fact that Your Highness clearly gets more out of the kiddo’s benevolence than the other way around. In one moment Your Highness is affectionately posing for a photo, and in the next he’s pawing potted plants off the counter.

While he appreciates his owner’s charity, he finds love difficult to extend to a weeb who draws cartoons instead of bathes and frequently sniffs his own feet. And regarding Your Highness—who licks his own butt and cannot resist the occasional cruel joke—the feelings of both fondness and disgust between owner and cat are mutual. Of course, the only reason the moody, deadpan-faced cat keeps coming back is because, deep down, the loyal tabby actually has a heart of gold.

Life in Your Highness’ domain would be mostly quiet—were it not for the day the kiddo brings home a pug to also keep as pet. Bubba Boo, as he is adorably named, is but another dumb dog in the eyes of the kitty overlord. (No seriously, Your Highness went by the name “Overlord” in his stray days before kiddo decided to take him in.) Thanks to the scheming of Your Highness, Bubba Boo is led into one unfortunate situation after the next. Although a hilarious and caring companion, both cat and owner agree that the unassuming pug often invites more trouble on account of his own dull wit.

And this is what everyday life is like for cat and dog living together under one poor man’s roof. My Cat Hates Me is a memoir of all the teasing, chasing, scratching, biting, eating, sleeping, playing, etc. that could possibly go on—and go wrong—in a small Chinese apartment complex. Charmingly portrayed are the moments that make us go “aww” and “eww” alike, from cute, round-eyed pleads for treats to finding out the startling number of the places animal feces can go. (Like, we probably shouldn’t be kissing our pets, but we do it anyways.)

Part of the reason My Cate Hates Me is so effective as a relatable portrayal of pet ownership is its art style. Bai Cha gives life to these floofy fur balls via soft brushwork imagery and a sketch-style vibe. Whereas the detail of Your Highness’ fluffy gray and white fur is always brushed to the nines, the kiddo is drawn with noticeably fewer characteristics, giving his human vagueness a meme-like quality that is instantly humorous. The composite style of simple comics blends with classic Chinese art to create a truly unique tone. Your Highness’ expressions are also some of my favorite in comic artistry, from suspicious slit eyes to maximum pupil dilation. Every cat owner will recognize Your Highness’ signature smugness thanks to the art’s experimental yet universal appeal.

Bai Cha also knows how to structure comics to guarantee a chuckle or two. Like how comedy manga will sometimes utilize a 4-coma (or 4-frame) comic outline, Bai Cha wields a similar template but remains flexible to each comic’s subject and tone. Some “episodes” are a full two-page spread with six or eight boxes on a page. Others demand a single page or even a single frame that contains the premise, the buildup, and the punch in a couple lines of dialogue. The exploratory nature of the design is closely tied to Bai Cha’s commitment to express the wealth of emotions pet owners experience. My Cat Hates Me is about 180 pages long, but one can enjoy a flip through of the entire volume within an hour—until you want to read it all over again.

Furthermore, the comic captures that omnipresent feeling of feline superiority that I’m sure we all observe with our own cats. The kiddo does his best to appease Your Highness, and all the cat king does in return is promote him to “General of Poop Scooping.” He’s one cocky kitty, but I’m sure that’s exactly how my own orange tabbies see me. If our cats determine where we eat, how we sleep, and when we wake up, are we really the masters of our own home? Your Highness certainly doesn’t think so.

My Cat Hates Me is a five-star manhua must-read for pet lovers. Each crude little comic is short yet punchy, and it’ll leave you wanting to chase down your own cat to give them a good scratching behind the ears (and a rub on the belly if they let you). There is a sincere love for cats with attitude packed into every panel, and the messages of loyalty and friendship are long-lasting. Your Highness is already the next big-name cat in the world of comics, and the English debut of Bai Cha’s work ensures he’s not leaving anytime soon. Long loaf the emperor!


Photo from advance uncorrected proof via Brown Books Publishing Group.

My Cat Hates Me, the first volume of Bai Cha’s Cat and Dog graphic novel series to be internationally published, goes on sale October 25, 2022. The sequel, My Cat Really Hates Me, will be released December 6, 2022. Both volumes are available for preorder at popular book retailers like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.

Bai Cha’s “Long Loaf the Emperorbrand was awarded “Chinese IP of the Year 2018” at the Licensing International Excellence Awards. Since then, his Cat and Dog comic series has been a consistent best seller, and it will now be available in English translation (by Jemma Stafford) thanks to the wonderful people at Brown Books Publishing Group.

My extended thanks to Adele over at Brown Books Publishing Group for reaching out and sending me an ARC to review. I’m itching to see what antics Your Highness, Bubba Boo, and co. will stir up next!

– Takuto

First Manga Haul of 2022! 🐯 | +MXTX, SAO Novels

FIRST HAUL OF THE NEW YEAR! 🐯

I already uploaded my first manga haul of 2022 back in January, but here is the video for my blog followers! Lots of updates for several of my favorite ongoing series. Plus, I’ve got a few holiday gifts and Seven Seas’ new danmei releases to unpack. It’s a fun haul for sure, so let me know if you are reading any of these titles!

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Thanks for watching~!

– Takuto

Going manga shopping (because online stores are out of stock)

I FINALLY GOT TO HOLD THESE MANGA 😭👍

Hey guys! A little while back I went to see Weathering With You in theaters (video on that coming soon) and it was amazing, of course! While I was in the city, I also got to go manga shopping at a Barnes & Noble, and here’s everything that I picked up! Let me know your thoughts on any of these titles down in the comments 📚✨

It’s so hard to find some of these manga in stock, especially on RightStuf 😔 but thankfully I was able to fill some gaps in my collection. Hopefully manga printing will be back to full capacity sooner rather than later. 😣🤞 Anyway, enjoy my FIRST shopping vlog!

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Thanks for watching~!

– Takuto

The End of The Promised Neverland 🕯 || Thoughts & Reflection

THE END OF NEVERLAND 🕯🗺✨

Hey guys, I’m back with a different kind of manga recap video. I recently finished The Promised Neverland, and while the emotions were running high, I figured I’d sit down in front of the camera and record some loose thoughts on this amazing manga’s ending. 📚

⚠️ THIS VIDEO CONTAINS MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR THE END. If you have read it, definitely let me know your thoughts on the series’ ending or this video down in the comments! Did you like it or find it boring? As for me, I’ll personally be recommending this one for years to come. 🧡

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Thanks for watching~!

– Takuto

May Anime & Manga Haul!

Better late than never!

Hey guys, I’m back with another manga haul vid! Although it’s primarily books from just 2 series that I’m reading, I find both of them super enjoyable. Plus, I picked up some anime faves, including a JP import set that I’d been debating on getting ever since it was released!

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Thanks for watching~!

– Takuto

RePlay: A Sweet Single-Volume Baseball BL || Review

A brief spoiler-free review of the single-volume BL manga “RePlay,” story and art by Saki Tsukahara, published in 2020 by TOKYOPOP.


Out of the Game

Although Yuta and Ritsu have been playing baseball together since they were children, a devastating defeat in a local tournament the summer before their senior year results in the “married couple’s” retirement from the high school team so that they can focus on university entrance exams. Yuta still yearns to play baseball again, but even when he’s given the chance, the game just doesn’t have the same appeal without Ritsu. Whenever Yuta brings up the sport, however, Ritsu seems to distance himself further.

What does baseball mean to Yuta, and why should it matter whether Ritsu is there or not? As the boys begin ask themselves these questions, feelings that have always been present are realized, and the bond between teammates develops into something far more affectionate and intimate.

This has got to be one of the most satisfying BL manga I’ve ever read. To Saki Tsukahara—where can I read your other works??? I had so much fun getting to know the history of this couple, as well as watching Yuta and Ritsu realize their feelings for each other. A surprising amount of character depth is crammed into this book, and the ending beautifully rounds out this story of compassionate love and fresh starts. The final pages (following our one sex scene, of course) left me happily content and hopeful about their future. Older audiences may also appreciate the high-school-to-college shift—along with the “separation angst” of changing friendships—that Tsukahara tries to capture.

Teammates to Something More . . .

Since we mainly take in the story from Yuta’s perspective, let’s talk about him first. Yuta Mizuhara is your typical loudmouth, food-snatching, panic gay who can’t seem to understand that others may actually like him. A lot. Defs the jumpy uke type. Still, he’s got a really cute face and them ATHLETE ABS THO, and most readers will enjoy him if even just for that. Compared to Ritsu, Yuta has to try a lot harder in his studies, especially if he’s wanting to attend the same university as Ritsu. I’m glad that his studying habits (or lack thereof) play a prominent role in the plot.

As for Ritsu Mashino, the dude’s RIPPED and ready for college life. The smart, quiet, handsome-type seme. Because he can get into practically any university, he spends a lot of his time going behind Yuta’s back to prep “surprises” for him. (If I say anything more it’s spoiler territory, so my lips are zipped.) Anyway, he’s also got a cute hairstyle and face to match, and I simply can’t express enough how PERFECT Saki Tsukahara’s characters look! The whole manga is just plain pretty. (And for my friends wanting something steamier, RePlay is fairly tame, save for the occasional shirtless scene and the last couple pages . . . )

The only part of the manga I found a bit cringe was how Yuta and Ritsu’s fellow teammates and classmates would keep calling them the “married couple.” They’d even refer to themselves in this way, and it’s such a weird term, even for manga. Like, when you’re this adamant on calling each other the school’s married couple, you’re not even queer-bating at this point—they both might as well just come out to each other already. At first, it’s a cute label, but it becomes harder to take even as a joke with each repetition.

A Satisfying Single-Volume BL

RePlay explores the attraction between two high-school seniors who are trying to sort out their long-withheld (or unrealized) feelings for one another while also preparing for university life. Since both boys have graduated from club activities, the sports element mainly serves as a backdrop to the soft and sweet story about the fear of growing apart. The volume reads like a sports anime fanfic, yet also has a sense of completeness that is rare for this kind of manga.

Saki Tsukahara’s lovely art remains consistently light and gorgeous, and their character designs match my tastes to a T. If you’re a fan of childhood-friends-to-lovers romance and are looking for a BL that looks fondly back on high school life as its characters make plans for college, I highly recommend RePlay as one of my new favorite single-volume BL manga!


“On the field, we understood every facet about each other, but now . . . “

Yuta Mizuhara


Afterword

This was such a great read, my goodness. Thank you to all who recommended this manga to me! If my enjoyment wasn’t obvious enough in this post, RePlay is a certified “Caffe Mocha” manga here at the cafe, a rating reserved for my favorite reads and watches! I’ve got a growing list of TOKYOPOP single-volume BL manga that I plan to pick up soon, so hey, if you liked this post, I’ve got more on the way! Drop your thoughts on this manga review (or your BL single-volume recommendations) down in the comments! Thanks for reading, and ‘til next time!

– Takuto

BL Metamorphosis: A Blossoming Relationship || Manga First Impressions

First impressions for volumes 1 of Kaori Tsurutani’s manga series “BL Metamorphosis,” published in 2020 by Seven Seas.


The Start of Something New

After the sad discovery that the coffee shop Ichinoi used to frequent with her late husband has closed down, the 75-year-old calligraphy teacher decides to cool off from the heat in a local bookstore. It’s been at least a year since she was last here, and while searching for the since-relocated cookbook section, an unsuspecting volume of BL catches the old lady’s eye.

The high school girl who rings up Ichinoi’s order at the register knows this BL series well. From this initial encounter, the two go on to form an unlikely yet endearing friendship. BL binds them, but is there a deeper lesson to be learned?

I’m going to keep this post short if only for the fact that it’ll quickly turn into a fanboy ramble about this sweet friendship. I totally see parts of myself in young Urara’s groggy eyes. She loves boys love manga, yet is ashamed to let anyone know—and I get it. There’s no worse feeling than being judged for liking something. Thankfully, Ichinoi is there to shine a light on the joys of living without shame.

And let’s talk about Ichinoi. Y’ALL, I love this lady. She doesn’t really understand BL, but she’s rooting for the boys anyway, and that’s all you need to say to win my heart! She’s also really kind, warm-hearted, and observant of others’ feelings. Sure, her approach is a little dated (like when she buys fruit for Urara as a thank-you gift, or how she decides to call when late to an email). But, the sentiment is always well-meant, and I wish there were more people like her in the world!

Living Vicariously through Manga

When you think about it, Ichinoi and Urara are living the dream. Two friends, both passionate about the same book genre, are making their way though the increasingly large and foreign world of BL and its collective fandom. They won’t need to hide anything entirely anymore because they have each other to gush over their favorite books and characters. I’m envious of their budding friendship just as I am happy they found each other! ;_;

Like how I find myself living vicariously though Ichinoi’s awakening to BL, I’m also noticing how Ichinoi is recalling her own life’s experiences through her friendship with Urara and the manga they read together. At the end of this first volume, Ichinoi faces the intense crowds of a comiket-like event. The last time she was here was when the building was built, some 30 or 40 years ago. She refused to ride the “world’s fasted elevator” here with her husband, saying that she didn’t want to wait for the line. Time caught up to both of them, and the “someday” she promised him slipped before her eyes.

It’ll be moments like this that make the manga worth reading. At face value, yes, the mutual fangirling is lots of fun, and it will keep me all warm and fuzzy until the final page. But, I hope BL Metamorphosis continues to reflect on Ichinoi’s life like this. Naturally, there’s a lot in this manga that you’ll want to pluck off the page and tuck away in your pocket for safekeeping.

In For a Penny . . .

So far, BL Metamorphosis is just as cute and endearing as everyone was telling me it’d be! I love Ichinoi so much, and I’m excited to see her catch her “second wind” in life with BL. ❤

While I’m hoping that subsequent volumes don’t go down the ~sad~ lane (if you know, you know), I do look forward to further exploring how this newfound friendship changes Ichinoi and Urara for the better. They’re like two peas in a pod, wandering souls in need of a friend like the other. I’m so glad they met.

Yes, I will be picking up all of this manga. And YES, you should read it! You don’t even have to necessarily like yaoi manga to appreciate the story that Kaori Tsurutani is trying to tell—though, a dash of BL and bittersweetness certainly makes the experience all the more exciting!


“Urara-san . . . Let’s get in that line!”

Ichinoi


Afterword

So yeah, read BL Metamorphosis. It’s a lovely manga. Thank you to all those who recommended this manga to me—I’m enjoying it immensely, and I hope to pick up the rest of it in my next Seven Seas haul and binge it in one sitting. Oh! That reminds me, I probably need to make sure I add them to my cart!

I’ll try to get out an update post here in a couple days. Same for more manga posts. School’s been slowly killing me, but hey, only one month left! Thanks for reading, and ‘til next time!

– Takuto

Evangelion Manga Reading Vlog!

TODAY WE GET IN THE ROBOT

Hey guys! With the theatrical release of Evangelion 3.0+1.0, I couldn’t think of a better time to bust out Yoshiyuki Sadamoto’s Evangelion manga than now! Plus, I found myself with a free weekend to just chill and read for a bit :3

Did you enjoy this manga read-with-me vlog style video? Share your thoughts about the vid or your love for Eva down in the comments!

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Thanks for watching~!

– Takuto

March 2021 Manga Reading Log

It’s been a while since we last talked about manga! ☘️

Hey guys, today we are go over all the great reads I was able to enjoy during spring break! I was fortunate to be able to start a few new series, each of which I’ll now be picking up until they finish!

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Thanks for watching~!

– Takuto

Battle Angel Alita is SOOO GOOD!!!

SAVED FROM THE SCRAPS 💥🦾

Hey guys, I’ve been wanting to try out this new style of manga video for quite some time now. So, today we are diving headfirst into the chaotic world of The Scrapyard in volume one of Yukito Kishiro’s classic manga, Battle Angel Alita.

I decided to try this new video with the Alita post that just went up yesterday! Basically, the blog post here serves as the script for the video. If you like this format, let me know! 🙂

Be sure to let me know your thoughts on the manga or this video down in the comments! I’m excited to pick up more and see where Alita’s journey of rediscovery takes her! 💥

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Thanks for watching~!

– Takuto