Manga Review: Cat + Gamer Volume 1

“Zero Overtime Woman” and “Hell No, Kozakura” are the known nicknames around the office for 29-year old Riko Kozakura, who works at a trading company. She’s so efficient and skilled at her job that she completes her work on time — and when the clock hits zero, she’s out of the office, with no need for things like friends or happy hour. Her co-workers think she’s either anti-social or has a boyfriend that she goes to see after work. What they fail to realize is that she has her mature persona at work, with looking serious, eyes focused, and capable of handling any task.

When she’s at home? She’s playing Neo Dragon.

Riko is a massive gamer, and in the first instance we see of her playing video games she buys a bunch of expensive things to celebrate beating Neo Dragoon (overall play time: 220:42). She operates in two modes, which is why when a security guard asks around the office if someone can take in a stray cat one day, she’s in a bind after she takes one look at the cat and sees how adorable it is. With that thought, she shocks the office by taking the cat. This despite having no experience in raising one. Surely she won’t use her experience playing video games to take care of it, right?

Wataru Nadatani’s Cat + Gamer is the latest manga where games are the subject, but this one involves a cat. The appeal aside from the main character is the incorporation of said cat into a person’s gaming lifestyle. In short, it’s an adjustment! Riko does ask for help from the pet shop worker, but otherwise she has no idea how to raise the cat. Heck, she doesn’t even remember to give it a name until later on the volume — and that’s when it occurs to her that she can’t tell what gender the cat is! I think the video game playing takes a slight back seat then — aside from Neo Dragoon and then Dragon Quest 14 Dragon Sword 14it’s all about how Riko applies what she knows and how the cat reacts or acts around her.

And for this volume it totally works. It’s humorous to see Riko get extremely concerned about her cat scratching itself due to the possible health issues that could come up but act like it’s suffered a status effect, only for the vets to calm her down and stress it’s not actually as serious as she thinks it is. It is also very much humorous when Riko ends up realizing that in real life, sometimes the cheaper the better. This is not an RPG where the more expensive item means it’s better. This appears to be the most consistent trait for this series as Riko’s game-brain contains with cat raising. Can she level the cat up like she wants? Well, she’s going to have to make sure it learns not to erase the save data one day!

The art is pretty strong for the most part, and more than able to appeal to cat lovers. I think the only disappointment is that it does spend a lot of time with Riko and the cat, but not so much on her office workers or anyone else aside from the pet shop worker until the end. Not to say it should’ve spent a bunch of time, but since everyone watched her accept the cat back at the office, I was a little surprised to see it took until the end for anyone to ask how it’s going since they were all stunned .

That said, the end does tease that one thing Riko does (create a side Tweeter to post pictures of the cat) might up end up being a big mistake for her in real life since her co-worker ends up finding it, so maybe volume 2 will have a new character or two join in on loving the cat. It’s also possible Riko might actually start to find people who also game in real life too. But for this debut volume, the quibbles I have with it are very minor — Cat + Gamer is a really fun read, and it’s certainly worth seeing how these two develop in the future.

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