By Osamu Tezuka
DMP, 200 pp
Rating: All Ages
Created nearly 35 years after Astro Boy, Atomcat tells the tale of a lovable feline turned superhero after a horrible accident and a hilarious mix up! Gifted with the powers and abilities of Astro Boy, the adorable Atomcat protects his friend Tsugio from threats both big and small!
This is an incredibly adorable and cute single volume read, the product of the same kickstarter fund that gave us Unico. It’s an all ages childrens manga, but it’s interesting and fun enough to hold the attention of most adults too, even if the story and characters aren’t terribly deep or complex. Tsugio is a rather hapless, though good hearted child, picked on by nearly everyone and with all the courage of the Cowardly Lion! He discovers Atomcat as a small, ill kitten and nurses him back to health, only for them both to end up in a terrible car accident. Thankfully the car was driven by aliens who repair the damage done to both, only they mistake the kitten of Astro Boy, and rebuild him as Atomcat. Poor Atomcat then spend the rest of the volume bailing out Tsugio from one horrible situation to the next. These range from cute, silly tales about buried treasure, mummys and a surprisingly dangerous and potentially lethal tale involving arms dealers. Despite the odd turn here and there the manga maintains a light, fun and enjoyable tone throughout, helped in part due to Tezuka’s sense of playfulness with the idea and concept. Astro Boy himself makes a few appearances in a weird, metatextual twist where Tsugio and his father are big fans of his manga and anime. Often times each chapter of Atomcat is preceded by a few pages of an Astro Boy tale which mirrors or foreshadows the events of the chapter. It’s a cute little twist and the entire book is a lot of fun.
It’s an Osamu Tezuka book so naturally it looks pretty amazing. The artwork may look a bit dated, but his eye for action, layouts, clever visual puns and a willingness to break the fourth wall and insert self knowing visual jokes makes it a fun treat for the eyes! The oversized nature of the book gives the artwork a certain space to breathe, making it all the more lovely to take in. The cartoony nature also lends itself to all sorts of goofy puns and jokes, while allowing Tezuka to sum up a character’s personality with a single panel or look.
It’s unlikely that Atomcat will be mistaken as one of Tezuka’s classic gems, something that’s pushed the boundaries of the manga form and courted weighty issues of social, spiritual or political meaning. That simply isn’t what the book is about. What it is though, is an incredibly fun all ages read. It’s light, cute, and has a nice sense of whimsy to it. All of which combine to make Atomcat a pretty fun read.
Atomcat are available now from Digital Manga Publishing. Review copy provided by the publisher.