If you are already familiar with this manga, you will know that it is an unfortunately short-lived series. In March, it was reported that I am the servant of the Catlords, which debuted in October 2019, will publish its final chapter in the April 2021 issue of G Fantasy magazine. The final printed book will be the fourth volume.
However, just because a series is short doesn’t mean it’s not without merit. Reading this first volume, he seems to be exploring familiar territory in a special way. I would say this series is an unusual take on the harem genre – and it’s unusual because while most harem series see a boy surrounded by girls or vice versa, and sometimes same-sex harems, this one , I would say, sees a central character surrounded by characters of an entirely different species.
The series begins with schoolboy Yukiharu Izumi. His parents died while on vacation, and to make matters worse for Yukiharu, he finds out that his father Shuu took out a loan of 50 million yen before his death. Because the loan cannot be repaid, the house where Yukiharu lives is demolished. However, Yukiharu learns that Shuu left him the keys to another house, where a person called Miyako lives.
As Yukiharu arrives in this rather grandiose house, he hears a noise coming from inside. He bursts in and finds five occupants fighting among themselves, including Miyako, a well-dressed but stern man. In fact, “man” is the wrong word. These five individuals were in fact Shuu’s “pets”, in the form of bakeneko – shapeshifting cat spirits, whom humans and cats often regard as monsters, but whom Shuu adopted and cared for. Yukiharu thus realizes that the loan that his father took was to buy this house for these spirits to live there.
Since the house was a gift, the bakeneko do not intend to give it to Yukiharu, but they offer him a deal: they will assume all the debts that Shuu had, but Yukiharu must become their servant. Reluctantly, he agrees, which means he has to wait for the hand and foot / paw of these five cats.
Miyako appears to be the unofficial leader of the group. He’s a Russian blue cat who works as a math teacher in his human form. When Yukiharu is transferred to a new school, Miyako inevitably becomes his homeroom teacher, with them posing as cousins. Two other bakeneko in the house are students in his class. There is the black cat Akira who is always excited and often comes across as scary; and the orange tabby Susumu, a glutton who was a rescued wandering Shuu. The other two are Kyou, a ragdoll cat who, in his human form, works as a host; and finally Tohru, about whom we get little information in this opening volume.
The main feeling you get while reading I am the servant of the Catlords is that while it doesn’t appear to be marketed as such, it certainly looks like harem manga, and a quick glance at the other reviews of the series seems to show similar feelings. He fits into the standard harem troops, but instead of focusing on characters of different sexes, he’s a human surrounded by cat spirits, all of whom appear to be males. It’s a fun idea, and creator Rat Kitaguni (guess that’s not his real name) has some cool character designs for the humanoid versions of the bakeneko. These conceptions are also changing drastically, as these spirits have their own powers. While in their humanoid forms, their only cat-like characteristics are normally their teeth; they can also make themselves more powerful, in which case they adopt more traditional catboy-like features, such as cat tails and ears, but also longer hands and claw-like fingers.
As with any harem series, you end up picking your favorites. At this point my favorite is Akira, mainly because of the comedy he offers. This mainly comes from this cheerful black cat who looks creepy when he wants to do things he considers fun, like wanting to play with Yukiharu in the dark or giving him mice as gifts.
Unfortunately, as pointed out in the opening of this review, this is a short lived idea. It’s a nice and entertaining way to change up what many might consider a lackluster genre, which needs something new to revitalize it. It’s also annoying for Yen Press, who announced they had licensed the series six months ago, and just before its release learned that the series had been discontinued.
As for the translation, I’m not quite sure how I feel about Alexandra McCullough-Garcia’s choice to remove accents from names, as probably Shuu is really “Shū”, but that helps the reader. with pronunciation. I’m also not sure if I put the translation notes directly after the first chapter, which means they explain things in the book that haven’t been released yet and therefore appear to be minor spoilers. However, I like Rochelle Gancio’s lettering and the use of different fonts to convey different moods, such as using bolder typefaces when the characters are angry.
It’ll be interesting to see how this progresses, with the end of this volume revealing what appears to be an antagonist, but at the same time it’s going to be tinged with a feeling that this series isn’t going to live up to its full potential. the author probably hoped.