Sunday, June 11, 2023

My Cute Little Kitten volume 1 (manga Review)

Two twenty-something women in work clothes, one with a laptop. Standing a few feet apart facing each otehr. A small cat leaps between them.
    Have you read Milk Morinaga's other works? Do you like Milk Morinaga's other works? I think those are probably pretty crucial questions to answer before deciding to read "My Cute Little Kitten" volume 1.
    For those uninitiated, Milk Morinaga writes yuri manga that features explicit dating and romance between high-school or adult female characters. The fact that Morinaga-san makes these relationships explicit and clear is a huge plus compared to a lot of the wishy-washy yuri out there. And some of Morinaga-san's work is generally quite good ("Girl Friends," some of the stories in "Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry Blossom Pink," and my favorite: "Secret of the Princess"). But some of her series are a bit lack-luster compared to others and frankly, "My Cute Little Kitten" doesn't start super strong.
    "My Cute Little Kitten" is about two young women, who met as college room mates and just never stopped living together. Of course, by the end of the first volume they are a couple. This isn't a spoiler, because the nice thing about Morinaga's series are that we don't have to wait until the last page of the final volume for a brief hint that they "might" get together - these are women who like each other and do get together. It's the journey as a couple that makes the series. But it remains to be seen if this series can rise above a middling first volume.
    Basically, this is a Morinaga Milk manga through and through. It's uneven in places, funny and cute in places, a little too explicit a little too often in others, the art can get a bit unintentionally distorted at times (some face poses just don't ever look right in her work), but also has some serious and well written moments in places.
    I did like some of the insight they have about when they each started falling for each other (one of them realizes: "my heart, it's already yours. I gave you my heart a long time ago"). And I like some of the 20-something aspects like the grungy apartment that still feels like paradise because it's yours (but then gets worse after you actually move in). And of course I like the sweetness between them. They are genuinely kind to each other and interested in each other. I also remember back to that time of acting like two rabbits when you first fall in love with someone and can't keep your hands off each other. 
    It's hard to quantify what didn't sit well. Somewhere in the pacing, some of their internal questioning (that didn't quite feel authentic), and some of the scenarios they find themselves in (and some of the more explicit art): it was uneven, as I said before. But that's par for the course for Morinaga Milk's works. 
    Coming back quickly to the art, it's very focused on the characters, particularly their faces. There isn't much in the way of backgrounds or detail work. It's often cutesy and even when it's being "realistic" it's still a cutesy form of art. And again, there is some anatomical awkwardness that crops into her work from time to time. None of her works are great art (although part of my own coming out journey was validated by the look of a character in one of her series, so that one will always be close to my heart).
    It's hard to see this series rising to the top, but for what it is, I'll keep reading at least a few more volumes.

Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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