She and Her Cat

tr. from Japanese by Kumar Sivasabramanian. illus. by Tsubaba Yamaguchi. 180p. Vertical. Aug. 2017. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781945054402.
Gr 9 Up—Shinkai turns what could very easily have been a conventional story of the struggles of adulthood into a quietly moving account. The narrative centers on Miyu's journey of independence, told through the perspective of her cat, Chobi. Miyu's routine of working, meeting up with friends, and surfing the Internet is marred by malaise. Minimalistic yet effective dialogue and the frequent use of shadowed environments in the artwork convey the protagonist's loneliness as she adjusts to the challenges of adult life. Miyu's facial expressions and body language are especially well drawn. Chobi's confusion and efforts to understand Miyu will resonate with anyone who has a friend or family member dealing with depression or similar issues. While this manga adaptation based on a 1999 short film by the author may not have broad appeal, it should be a relatively easy sell to fans of Shinkai's better-known movies (Your Name; 5 Centimeters Per Second).
VERDICT Give this unique gem to readers who appreciate tales in the vein of filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki (Howl's Moving Castle; My Neighbor Totoro).

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