Back for seconds
Cat-chef Taisho and his sole hapless customer Tanaka Koichi are back again serving up another bowl of gut-busting laughs in “Neko Ramen Volume 2: Curry is Also Delicious.” This time around Taisho is determined to make his ramen shop a success, even if it means not selling ramen. He will try just about anything to get customers through the door, so when he reads a study saying that the average Japanese eats four times more curry than ramen, well…you know what is going to follow.
Kenji Sonishi set a high standard for himself with the hilarious “Neko Ramen Volume 1” and I was hoping he was going to be able to keep up the pace. In a book filled almost entirely with one-shot 4-panel gag strips, the jokes could wear thin very quickly but that never happens here. Sonishi just keeps pulling new comedy and hijinks out of his brain to keep the reader off-guard and entertained.
There are way too many gags here to cover in detail. Almost every panel Taisho has some new crazy idea to bring in customers, from making his shop handicapped accessible (removing all the chairs so wheelchairs can come in, and shouting really loud for deaf people) to a petting zoo and fish tank (although all the little chicks and fish keep disappearing) to putting out a cut-out of himself to take pictures with. Along with this is the curry fiasco, the “lovey-dovey ramen,” the heroic battle with stray dogs, Tanaka’s father coming in to serve as an apprentice, the revelation of Taisho’s real name and the story of his cat-model father…trust me, you are going to laugh at something here.
Aside from all the comedy, Volume 2 does take the time to develop a few of the characters which is necessary for a continuing series. We learn a little bit more about Taisho and his family, a little bit more about Tanaka and his family, but not too much to take the focus off the jokes. The balance in this series is just perfect. The art is simplistic but not simple; the strips play around with point-of-view and panel arrangement while maintaining a “comic strip”-style. Really, everything about “Neko Ramen” is good.
Definitely one of my favorite current manga. If you aren’t reading this, you should be!