Kenji Sonishi’s Neko Ramen is akin to a collection of four paneled comic strip one would find in their newspaper and is probably better suited for one as well. Neko Ramen has earned itself a niche following over the years. Originally released in 2006, the series is still going strong today, with four volumes and a popular flash animation series under its belt. Tokyopop bought up the license and now fans in the US are getting their first taste of the gag series.
Neko Ramen delivers the outlandish premise of a talking cat named Taisho, opening up a ramen shop, which is often frequented by the bewildered Tanaka. At first Tanaka is caught off guard at the sight of a talking cat that can boil noodles, but when he is goaded into trying Taisho’s ramen, he declares them to be awful. Despite this, he begins frequenting the restaurant, bringing others along with him.
Potential health risks aside, to many of the characters, a talking cat serving ramen becomes common place for Tanaka, as he stops by to offer bits of criticism or enthusiasm depending on the dish. Taisho invents new and disgusting ideas for ramen such as dessert ramen, filled with strawberry’s and milk, using poor Tanaka as a testing subject. Eventually, Taisho begins hiring assistants, most of which are cats that sleep around all day, except for one hapless human who finds himself at the mercy of Taisho’s temper.
The manga switches up the presentation later on, changing from four panels to a layout resembling more traditional manga. This doesn’t last long however, and only briefly revisits the format. One look at the front cover will give audiences an indication of the art. Again, the style is closer to what one would find in a newspaper comic strip. It perfectly reflects the carefree tone of the series, adding to its charm.
For those looking for a healthy dose of comedy, it’s hard to go wrong with Neko Ramen. While not every story hits it out of the park, the volume on the whole is funny enough that it will win over new readers. Oddly enough, there is no number on the cover to indicate that this is the first offering. Hopefully Tokyopop releases the rest of the series as this is a title that leaves its readers hungry for more.