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Kazuo Umezu – Cat Eyed Boy

Created in the late 60s by Kazuo Umezu, Cat Eyed Boy [shouldn’t there be a hyphen in there somewhere?] is a horror/comedy manga about a half-[cat]demon, half-child that has been cast out of the demon world for looking too human. Shunned by humans as well, he wonders from village to village, living in attics, and getting into various kinds of mischief. Misfortune may or may not follow him although he does claim at the beginning of each issue that “awful things follow me wherever I go,” then threatens to appear in your attic next. I am a fan of manga from this period, and knowing Umezu’s reputation as horror manga creator extraordinaire, I had high expectations. Maybe a little too high. To be fair, the illustrations are unique and demonstrate Umeza’s fine artistic talents. The monsters and demons are so grotesque I winced at their appearance more than once. The Cat Eyed Boy resembles a strange cross-breeding of school boy, cat, Hamburgler, and Ed Grimley, which oddly enough equals ADORABLE. Like I said, Umeza is a talented man. My main complaint, however, is with the the shoddy translation work. Umezu’s stories may be as interesting and horrific as the characters that populate them but this is not evident in the English versions. The translations are just too literal. Example – Do you not tremble before the fearsome Water-Gulping Goblin? No, you don’t. Because he just gulps water. Other poorly named creatures include ‘Large Hand Bodyless’ and ‘The Meatball Monster.’

MEATBALL ATTACKS!

The Cat Eyed Boy stories have been compiled into two volumes, roughly 500 pages each. All the tails [har har har] are moralistic, and Cat Eyed Boy believes it is his duty to expose the avarice, cruelty, greed, selfishness in both humans and demons, and to punish them by allowing demons to harm and disfigure them [making them as unattractive on the outside as they are inside]. So for the most part Umezu portrays Cat Eyed Boy as a do-gooder, albeit a snotty, na-na-na-na-told-you-you-were-evil one. Oh, and does he really need to piss on everything? I admit the random urination scenes made me laugh but they don’t help enough for me to actually recommend these volumes to anyone. I will say that the final stories in volume two seem to translate better than the others. But again, unless, you are a huge Umezu fan, I would pick these books up at your local library rather than spending $25 for each.

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