キャットフード // Cat-Food

キャットフード
 名探偵三途川理と注文の多い館の殺人
Cat Food
 or Famous Detective Sanzu no Kawa Kotowari and Murder at the Villa of Many Orders
著:森川智喜 (Author: Morikawa Tomoki)
絵:平沢下戸 (Illustrator: Hirasawa Geko)

ISBN 978-4-06-283752-1

While I was in Japan, the 6th volume in the Bakemonogatari series came out, and even though I wasn’t ready to read it yet, I wanted to save money on shipping by picking it up while I was already there. So for about 3 days straight I went to the local Kinokuniya, but they were always sold out… Anyway, the 6th book is all about Hanekawa Tsubasa, so Kinokuniya had had a sort of cat book section set up around it. “Sorry we’re sold out, but in the meantime, have a look at all these other cat books!” What I found was a closed island mystery that involved transforming cats and humans mixed together, and a plot to make cat food made out of humans. There was a sticker on the front cover warning the reader to keep the book out of reach of cats, because it could inspire them to commit murder. (X╹_​_​_​_​_╹) Obviously there I wasn’t going to let that just pass me by, so I went ahead and picked it up. Now I’ve finally got back around to read it.

Cast:

Humans:
柏恭一     Kashiwa Kyouichi (Normal Name)
金田清作    Kaneda Kiyosaku (Normal Name)
狼森ユキ    Oimori Yuki “Forest of Wolves – Snowing”
緋山燃     Hiyama Moyuru “Scarlet Mountain – Burning”
三途川理    Sanzu no Kawa Kotowari “Sanzu River(=Styx) – Reasoning” (Detective)

Cats: (All of the transforming variety)
プルート    Pluto
グリン     Green
ペンタメローネ Pentamerone (A collection of folk/fairy tales compiled in 1634)
トラ      Tora “Tiger”
ブチ      Buchi “Spot”
ウィリー    Willy (The Narrator)

*The work Pentamerone contains a cat figure somewhat similar in character to puss-in-boots, a story published around the same time.

Plot:

The story is split into two acts, with a short intermission chapter and a short conclusion chapter. The first act sets up the story and runs the plot forward a little; and the second act races it on at a much faster pace.

The upstart “Pluto Meat Company” is investing in a get rich quick scheme centered on marketing fresh human meat to cat society as a delicacy. The factory, cleverly disguised as a retreat cottage on a little island off the coast, has been completed and is ready for its test run. If everything goes well they’ll be able to pay off their start up costs and quickly rise to the top.

Willy is a simple, happy going stray that likes to transform into humans and play with them; especially with people that have been nice to him in the past as a cat. So Willy finds himself mixing into a group of four, with Oimori Yuki, your average cat-lover, off on an island vacation they won on a raffle.

At the cottage/i.e. meat factory Willy eventually figures out what’s going on and tries to persuade Pluto to give up on these particular four (three) humans, but it doesn’t work out. Willy leaves before Pluto realizes her mistake. They don’t know who Willy was taking the place of! According to cat law, they can’t just kill Willy – that would be murder – and besides they have a guest from another company for the test run that wouldn’t keep quiet even if they discarded their morals.

It becomes a battle of wits: Willy faced with defense (against Pluto’s plans and against arousing suspicious among the humans) and offense (trying to find a way to get the humans off the island), and Pluto with four other cats is faced with offense (trying to smoke Willy out somehow under the confines of the law) and time (after three days the “trip” will be over). Transforming cats can transform into almost anything; Pluto’s subordinates could be hiding anywhere.

Plans are set, but after a terrible accident (with both sides failing), a detective is brought in… on Pluto’s side. In the second act Willy is bombarded and the situation grows ever, ever more dire. Will he be at least able to save Oimori Yuki, the one he cares about as if she were his master? What about the human left behind, the one Willy switched with?!

Thoughts:

First of all, I think the idea is interesting. The cat society and transformation stuff was put into great detail (though I think Pentamerone made the best uses out of it), and I still can’t get the idea of a cat jumping and becoming an LCD screen out of my head.. Still, I’d say the first act suffers a bit from a little too much detail about the transformation capabilities and limitations and a little too much justification of everything that goes through Willy’s head. The tension isn’t high enough to allow for such detail in my opinion, so it starts to feel a little slow. But while it’s a bit morbid, when deaths start actually occurring, the level jumps back up. After Sanzu no Kawa (a fast talker) joins the mix, the tension rises and everything seems to accelerate. I first picked this up thinking “closed island murder mystery” but it’s not really what you should be expecting – if you are you’re going to be a little disappointed. Still the “battle of wits” element is there sound and strong, so even though I started to get a little bored at the mid-point, when the battle of wits changed gears, went into overdrive so to speak, it brought back my attention full swing, to where I was guessing this and that along with the narrator, which is exactly what you should be doing.

Another thing I’d like to point out is that the illustrations interestingly are very careful about avoiding something, and about making a few things unclear – which coincidentally, becomes a clue.

Rating:

Overall Rating: 7.8
“I liked it; it was worth the time and money; I don’t have much of a reason to re-read it though.”
^(Not mathematically dependent on the below)

Pacing: 6→9.5
Concept: 8.2
Characters: 7.8
Writing Style/Flavor: 7.5
Illustrations: 8
^(The map was actually one of the coolest illustrations)

^Remember this is very arbitrary; I haven’t developed a really good scale for anything yet. I might go back and re-grade all the stuff I’ve read after I’ve read ~10-15 of these.

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