Tag Archives: Dogs

Angel Heart

Peace Pet Rental’s Lag is a robotic dog. He can be pretty slow at times and can’t perform tasks aside from those written in his program, but despite all this, he’s everyone’s favorite dog. Soon, however, he is tackling people’s problems in ways not included in his program, and it seems almost miraculous… Something mysterious has awakened within his heart even though he’s supposed to be a machine with no emotions. What is Lag’s true nature? For those lost in despair and sorrow and those with wounded hearts comes this healing tale of love, kindness, and sacrifice.

By Udou Shinohara
Publisher: Digital Manga Guild
Localized: Cynical Pink
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Fantasy/Shojo/Slice of Life
Price: $6.95 eManga/$7.95 Kindle/Nook/Wowio
Rating: ★★★★½

While I am a big cat lover (crazy cat lady in training), I’m really a sucker for all animals, including dogs. So it should come as no surprise that when given the chance, I would read a manga featuring a dog, even if it is a robot dog. While the basic premise is far from original, Shinohara still creates an entertaining story with some quirky characters, an interesting world for them to live in, and a charming pooch to bring them all together.

Angel Heart takes place in an unspecified future, where phone calls are made with holographs, and robots can be made and programmed to act like animals. The Peace Pet Rentals creates dogs, and Shiki is in charge of gathering data and programming Lag, a medium-sized dog that looks like a Sheltie. He does this by taking the dog to a hospital (whose director is also the Chief’s sister) and letting Lag interact with the patients, which has the added benefit of helping the patients. Over the course of the volume, Shiki gets to know many of the patients and watches Lag as he seems to grow beyond his programming, and like Pinocchio become thought of as a “real” dog.

I really enjoyed this title. Shiki is the reluctant programmer, who isn’t very good with people, but through working with Lag, starts to learn how to better interact with them. His big rival is Rena, the youngest sister of the Chief Rin and Director Kira. She also has a robot dog that she brings, a small Pomeranian named Nikita, whose programming is simpler, and therefore is more energetic, but not as authentic as Lag. She is always calling Lag dumb, because of his slow reactions, and comparing Shiki to his creation. The Rin, Shiki’s boss, is very stoic, but believes in his work, while Kira is more friendly, always smiling and encouraging Shiki, even if she is a little blunt about Lag’s lagging.

And then’s the star of the book, Lag. He is often shown with a blank stare, one I often associate with dogs anyway. When ever he does a dog action, like wag his tail, or lick someone’s face, the programming why he’s doing it is explained off to the side. This might seem annoying after a while, but I think it’s actually cute. It makes the times Lag isn’t following his programming stand out more. Throughout the story, it’s Lag’s unexplained actions that show how he’s changing and growing into something more than his programming. Doing a handstand and wagging his tail for a girl scared of her upcoming operation, or going to comfort a former soccer player depressed after an accident that affected his legs, show how he is becoming more empathetic toward people. I really liked it when his “brain” was put into a larger, scarier-looking dog, Lag’s personality still shone through. It was so cute seeing his stubby tail wag!

Angel Heart is a fun, light one-shot, though I wouldn’t object to reading more about Shiki and Lag,  or another robot animal in this universe. Shinohara has created a cast of characters I enjoyed with stories that warm the heart. The localizer, Cynical Pink, did a really good job with this title as well. The writing was fluid and read very naturally. It’s great that DMP/DMG has made this title available on several different platforms, though it’s obvious by the price which one they want you to buy from. Definitely check out Angel Heart if you enjoy titles about dogs or just want a light, quick read. It’s worth it.

Digital review copy provided by publisher.

National Pet Month Manga Update

It’s May and that means it’s time to show some love to our furry (and sometimes not so furry) friends! It’s National Pet Month, where the benefits of pet ownership is promoted and pet adoptions are supported. I wrote about some pet manga available in English before, but now it’s time for an update!

The most common way of getting a pet in manga is through taking in a stray. My Cat Loki was a Tokyopop original title that sadly didn’t get to finish its three-volume run due to low sales. It’s about a young man, Ameya, who withdraws from those around him after his long-time pet cat dies. But he soon takes in a stray who looks a lot like his first cat, that he names Loki. The two available volumes show Ameya and Loki first coming to terms with each other, and then Ameya coming out his shell and starting to live again. I enjoyed the volumes I read and was disappointed I wouldn’t see the third. I thought I would be put off with seeing Loki as a “cat boy”, as Ameya would sometimes see him as human, but it actually worked in the context of the story.

Milkyway Hitchhiking is a Yen Plus exclusive title from Yen Press about a cat with a coat that looks like the Milkyway. She is a special cat that has the ability to grant wishes. She wanders the world interacting with people and cats, both strays and pets, and sometimes even helps them. I’ve found this series to be hit or miss, and haven’t really enjoyed the stories where Milkyway is the observer and not really involved. The art is very pretty though, as being online, it gets to be in color, and is often done with a water-color look.

PoyoPoyo Observation Diary is a new digital manga from Jmanga, the Japanese publisher collaboration site. It’s a about a round, fat cat, that is found a woman who then brings his home. It’s a 4-koma, or comic strip style comic that shows Poyopoyo with his new family. I’ve bought the first volume, but haven’t had a chance to read it yet. But it looks very funny. There is also an anime available on Crunchyroll, which Jmanga links to as well. The anime episodes, much like the Chi’s Sweet Home anime are short, only about 3 minutes long, making them a great time filler, or sucker as your schedule will allow.

Guru Guru Pon-Chan gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “puppy love.” Ponta is the pet labrador retriever dog to the Koizumi family. The grandfather invents a bone that when licked allows the animal the power of human speech. Ponta eats the bone and is turned into a human girl. She falls in love with Mirai, a boy who saves her when she rushes out into traffic while in human form. Ponta enrolls in Mirai’s school so she can be near him as well as trying to learn how to be human. Del Rey released this 9 volume series back in 2005, so the series is out of print, but used copies may still be had.

While not specifically a pet manga, Fruits Basket, a book formerly published by Tokyopop, features several animals that are pets. This title is about a girl, Tohru, who gets involved with a family, the Sohmas, that are cursed by the Chinese zodiac. Everytime they are hugged by a member of the opposite sex not afflicted in the same way, they turn into one of the animals of the zodiac. The first three Sohmas that Tohru meets, Yuki, Kyo, and Shigure are the rat, cat and dog of the zodiac story. Momiji the rabbit and Ayame, the snake, also represent common house pets. In a bit of a reversal, Tohru is the stray that is taken in, and it’s her unconditional feelings that help to heal the Sohma family and break the curse. This is another series that is out of print, and it would behoove Kodansha to bring it back. Fruits Baskets is just too good of a series to stay out of print.

Inubaka: Crazy For Dogs Volume 16

Woofles regular Chizuru advises her friend Serina, who is contemplating motherhood, to try looking after a dog first. Can Chizuru’s dog melon and a new puppy convince Serina that their affection and cuteness are worth the aggravation?

By Yukiya Sakuragi
Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen+
Genre: Animal/Drama
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

My first two reviews of this series were lukewarm, due to the fan service and doggie-ness of the title. I’m a cat person and don’t care much for dogs. This volume however, dealt with more plot and general animal care than just doggie-ness, so I could appreciate it and it’s message much more.

This volume picks up where volume 15 left off with Amuro being seriously injured in a car accident. Suguri’s quick thinking and level head saves the dog long enough to get to the animal hospital. Despite her dislike for Amuro’s owner Fujita, who kidnapped her as a child and is now stalking her, she allows Lupin’s blood to be used in a transfusion. Even though this doesn’t help get rid of him, and he keeps showing up throughout the volume, Suguri does gain some valuable information about Lupin’s grandfather, the dog that rescued her. It seems he may not be the only good samartian dog around. I found the introduction of this plot point to be very interesting. Who trained these dogs, and why do they help people and then disappear? It actually sounds intriguing.

The rest of the volume is spent showing some of the difficulties of being a pet owner. First, Chizuru has to wrestle with the decision to have Melon fixed. while this may seem like a no-brainer to veteran pet owners, seeing Chizuru agonize over the decision, and then see things turn out alright in the end, may help other new owners realize it’s okay to alter a pet. And then there’s Chizuru’s friend Serina. Her story realistically shows the problems of getting a puppy and the work it really is to take care of one. The parallels to having a child are obvious, with such things as having to clean up after them and dealing with their crying. Serina, and her husband show themselves to be irresponsible, and not taking the job seriously. Whether it’s a child or a pet, the same amount of responsibility is required, and these chapters show this very well.

I really enjoyed this volume, much more than the previous ones I’d read. The plot of Lupin’s heritage and the Good Samaritan rescue dogs is really intriguing. Suguri handles herself really well with Fujita as well, making it very clear that she doesn’t want to see him or have anything to do with him. But being the stalker that he is, he doesn’t listen. The chapters with Chizuru and her friend are excellent lessons in pet ownership, and would make good pamphlets on their own about caring for pet and thinking carefully about why and how committed you are to getting one. There are a few panels of fanservice, but they are as blatant as earlier volumes.

If Inubaka had been like this from the earlier volumes, it could have made a fan of me sooner. It’s still a series for dog lovers, but it’s also finally showing itself to have appeal for the non-dog persons like me.

National Pet Month Manga

What's MichaelMay, among other things, is National Pet Month. It’s goal is to promote the benefits of pet ownership and support pet adoption. I know these benefits very well, and support them, as every dog and cat in our house was either from a shelter or a stray we took in. Manga is no stranger to pets either. Here are just a few titles that feature either the benefits of pet ownership, or shows strays finding a home, with humans or otherwise.

Inubaka 1In manga, there are two ways to typically find a pet. The first is the obvious one; a pet shop. Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs is a Teen+ title from Viz Media. It’s about a girl, Suguri Miyauchi, who has an amazing affinity for dogs and gets a part-time job at the pet store “Woofles”. The stories often feature different dog breeds available at the pet store, and matching the right people to the right dog. Petshop of Horrors, another Teen+ title from Tokyopop also matches people to the most appropriate pet, but in a “comeuppance theater” sort of way. Count D has the perfect pet for every customer, and sees that everyone gets the pet they deserve, which doesn’t always end well for the for the people.

One Fine Day 1But can you really blame the animals for wanting some payback? More often than not, pets such as dogs and cats are shown being dumped in deserted areas or left in boxes with signs saying “Please take me home.” Many pets in manga start out as strays and find a home this way. In Kimi ni Todoke a Teen title from Viz Media, Kazehaya and Sawako find a puppy in the rain. Kazehaya takes the dog in, and he and Sawako share in its care. Rin, from the Teen title Dragon Voice from Tokyopop, gets adopted by a stray cat that he feeds once and then keeps coming back for more. My mother has acquired more than a few cats this way. In One Fine Day, the All Ages title from Yen Press, the cat Guru is lonely until he is befriended by Nanai the dog and Rang the mouse, and finds a home with them and No-ah.

Free Collars Kingdom 1Not all animals want to be adopted by humans though. Free Collars Kingdom, a Teen+ title from Del Rey Manga, portrays the world of stray cats, showing how they have to find food, shelter, and fight and defend their territory. While this title is more light-hearted in the way it shows this world, making all the cats otaku of some sort, there is a more serious theme at its core. Many of the Free Collar cats don’t want to ge back to being a pet to a human. They were abandoned by their humans, even the protagonist Cyan, though he is the only one that holds onto his faith in humans. The rest are jaded and disillusioned, a feeling you can’t help getting sometimes when looking at some of the animals at the shelter.

Peach Fuzz 1If you’re willing to take the time and care, the benefits of pet ownership can be very rewarding. Don’t think it’s going to be a walk in the park though. The All Ages OEL title Peach Fuzz from Tokyopop that shows some of the trials and triumphs of owning a pet. Amanda and Peach the ferret both have to learn to how to get along with each other, but once they do, they are like the best of friends.  The same goes for Ryusei and Mr. Ken, the human-cat pair of Viz Media‘s Teen+ title Backstage Prince. Ryusei doesn’t like people, so it’s up to Mr. Ken to find him a friend. Akari, a girl from his school, becomes first a friend and then becomes his girlfriend. Cats can be really smart when they want.

For an as-close-to-real-as-it-gets look at pet ownership in manga, look no further than What’s Michael?, an All Ages title from Dark Horse Comics. Michael, the title character, is a large, orange-striped cat, who is portrayed as doing all the cats are want to do; eating, sleeping, playing, and generally causing trouble for his owners. What’s Michael? is truly a comedy, for most of the things Michael is seen doing are the EXACT SAME THINGS cat owners see everyday. It’s funny because it’s true. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find volumes of this series. Here’s hoping Dark Horse releases an omnibus very soon.

Chis Sweet Home 1While cats are cute, kittens are cuter, and that exactly what you get in Chi’s Sweet Home, Vertical, Inc.’s first All Ages title, which will be released in June. It’s about a kitten that gets separated from her mother and siblings, and is adopted by a young family. Chi is really cute, but not in a saccharine sense, and the family has a lot to learn about taking care of a kitten, and most importantly, how much a part of the family a pet can become. Just like its title, it’s sweet and funny and heartwarming.

Like all good things, owning a pet isn’t always easy, but it’s always satisfying. If you are considering getting a pet, please consider adopting one from a local shelter rather than a pet store or breeder. Some of the best cats I have ever had never came with papers, and finding a purebred at a shelter is unfortunately just as likely as a mutt. You can also check out Adopt-a-pet.com for a shelter or rescue near you.

Cute Pups

Cute Pups: Canine Friends and Accessories
By Chie Hayano
Publisher: Vertical Inc.
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Craft
Price: $14.95
Rating: ★★★★★

Even…More…Puppies!!!  It’s like “The Littlest Pet Shop” for adults!

Even though by nature I’m a cat person, I can’t resist a puppy.  They are just so cute and cuddly!  Vertical must know how irresistable puppies are, as they release their second craft book of little dog making: Cute Pups.

Continue reading Cute Pups

Cute Dogs: Craft Your Own Pooches

Cute Dogs: Craft your own Pooches
By Chie Hayano
Publisher Vertical, Inc.
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Craft
Price: $14.95
Rating: ★★★★★

Vertical Inc is a unique publisher in the manga world.  They are a boutique publisher who does more than bring manga over from Japan.  They also publish novels from horror to business, Sudoku puzzle books, and coolest of all, craft books.  Their newest release is Cute Dogs, which is filled with exactly that; little stuffed dogs that don’t just look cute, but look fun to make.

Cute Dogs is a thin book at just 79 pages, but it’s packed with 16 different dogs you can create on your own.  Ranging from the Boston Terrier, Chihuahua, Welsh Corgi, Miniature Dachshund, to the Miniature Schnauzer, you’ll find many of the most popular dog breeds.  The first half of the book is filled with pictures of each of the finished pieces, showing them from different angles so you know how they should look.  They are all posed with accessories like food bowls, wagons, bowls and baskets.  All the dogs have names and little sayings that give them personality.  It’s fun just looking at these pictures and reading about each dog.  After seeing all the stuffed dogs, we are introduced to the real dogs that worked as models.  They all have wonderful personalities too.

The second half of the book gets into the crafty stuff.  All the materials needed to make these pooches are pictures and described, as well as all the tools.  There is also a basic sewing guide that shows all the stitched needed and how to do them.  There are only three, and they are pretty simple.  Then it gets into the nitty-gritty of cutting, preparing, and sewing the dogs together.  It’s step-by-step, taking you from start to finish through Bob, the Boston Terrier.  He’s the template.  The rest of the dogs have their own variations, but the construction is the same for all.  The directions are clear and concise, with pictures illustrating them, making them easier to understand.

I really enjoyed Cute Dogs.  The dogs are cute, and they look to be fairy easy to make.  Teens would have no problem making these, and even Tweens, with some supervision could do them!  I’m definitely going to try making some of these pooches.  Just paging through the book started giving me ideas of what could be done with them.  Crafters and dog-lovers alike with love this book.  Now, where’s the Cute Cats book?

Review copy provided by publisher.

Inubaka: Crazy For Dogs Volume 10

One of the regulars at Suguri’s pet shop finds out that his precious little French bulldog, Zidane, has a weight problem!  He tried everything from diet food to yoga and even an exercise machine to help the little guy lose that doggy fat!  Could someone else be feeding him, too?!

By Yukiya Sakuragi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Older Teen
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

Dog lovers rejoice!  It’s another volume of dogs and their owners doing doggie things.  Then for the second half of the volume, there’s a new plot stirring up, that could be the end of Woofles and the gang.

The first half of this volume is all about Hiroshi Akiba, an otaku-goverment worker, and his bulldog Zidane.  Zidane was teased by Chizuru about his weight, so Akiba decided to do something about it.  He buys low-calorie dog food, he stops buying treats and even gets a doggie treadmill!  This story is mildly amusing, though it has all the typical trappings and pitfalls of a diet storyline.

The story of how Lupin, Suguri’s mutt, got his name is mildly amusing too.  The source isn’t all that surprising, nor why she chose.  This story really just seems to fulfill the title’s fanservice quotient.

The rest of the volume introduces a new storyline.  Woofles has been targeted as the best pet store in the area, and the place to top for a new pet shop that is backed by an online retailer.  Not only are they trying to be better than Woofles, but they have their eye on Woofles top employee, Suguri!

This new storyline could be interesting, if it wasn’t so obvious where it was going.  Already, the spy that is working at Woofles has shown his “good side”, and the whole “steal Suguri from Woofles” just isn’t plausible.  Anyone that’s read even one volume of this series would know that.  Of course, Lupin catches on to Mikage right from the beginning.  He barks at him, and when he invites Suguri to a cafe for lunch and to try to get her to leave Woofles, Lupin is all over him, interrupting him at every chance.  That scene was also mildly amusing.

Inubaka continues to be a title aimed squarely at the male dog lover.  The fanservice was much more under control in this volume.  It wasn’t too prevalent, except for the one story.  And for dog lovers, this continues to be a windfall.  Lots of different dog doing lots of cute doggie things.  As a cat person, I’m still not impressed, but I didn’t mind the read either.

Inubaka: Crazy For Dogs Volume 8

Worried that she’s been far too lenient with Lupin, Suguri starts him on a strict training regimen.  But then Lupin disappears, and Suguri blames herself.  When standard search methods fail, it’s time for some creative problem solving.  With a little luck and a little talent she just might be able to find her precious pooch!

By Yukiya Sakuragi
Publsiher: Viz Media
Rating: Teen+
Genre: Slice of life
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

Lupin runs away during a thunder-storm, and jumps into a moving truck just as its finished packing.  Lupin is whisked away from Suguri, who has been searching for him.  Arriving in another perfecture (county), Lupin has his own set of adventures as he tries to find his way home.  Suguri, devastated by Lupin’s disappearance, goes to any extreme to find him.

I want to be honest here. I’m not a big dog person. I don’t mind having one around, but I’m much more of a cat person. This preference seems to have colored my view of this manga, as I just didn’t care for it. Not because it was badly done, I just wasn’t interested in the dogs or their owners. Neither the characters nor dogs really endeared themselves to me. Suguri was just annoying. She naive and an air head. Lupin wasn’t as bad. The white female dog that took to him, Natsuko was more interesting though. It’s really all a shame too, since I wanted to like this series. I love animals, and would like to see more animal manga.  But this one isn’t it.

Another thing that bothers me about this series is all the panty shot/up skirt shots we get of Suguri. Does a title about dog lovers working in a pet store really need at least one shot for every page Suguri is on? And it’s mainly just her that’s gets this treatment. These just turned me off the book even further.

It wasn’t a complete turn off though. The last two stories were more to my liking. The first dealt with Baby Boomers, and the “empty nests” their homes have become. This issue hits home for Teppei when his mother comes looking for a puppy to fill her home again. And the final story, where the fan service has a point, has the girls going to the beach on their day off. Suguri really wanted to go with Teppei, as an almost date, but Teppei is too dedicated to his store and spends his days off seeing breeders to find more different puppies. This one is filled with rumors as the girls speculate what Teppei does on his day off, but the truth makes Suguri all the more happy.

If you’re an animal lover of any kind, you will be able to relate to the feelings expressed in this volume of Inubaka. If you are a dog lover, then this story will really hit home. If you like cats, and can take or leave dogs, and/or fan service, then you may want to skim through this before buying.