Nyankees Vol. 1 TP
Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: January 9, 2019
Price: $13.00
Author: Atsushi Okada
Format: 176 pgs., B&W, 5"x7.5", Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-9753-8337-4
Age Rating: Teen
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

The title "Nyankees" is a portmanteau of "nyan," the Japanese equivalent of "meow," and "yankees," or juvenile delinquents.  The manga itself is a similar combo, with rival street gangs brawling over turf, then scattering when a little girl spots them ("Kitties!") or just chilling out in a cardboard box.  Although we see them as human most of the time, these tough guys are actually street cats.

It’s a crazy premise for a manga, but it works, because Okada is a really good artist.  The cats are convincing (and surprisingly adorable).  Their human versions look like characters from any gang manga, with bulging muscles, crazy eyes, and preposterous hairstyles.  And although the humans don’t look particularly feline, when the view shifts from one form to the other, it’s immediately obvious who is who.

The story is fast and violent, with lots of blood-spattering fights, but there is a plot. Ryusei is searching for a mysterious male calico, the neighboring gang is trying to take over, and of course there’s a pretty girl who is tough but perhaps secretly vulnerable as well.  Part of Okada’s artistry is that Nyankees is, in fact, a pretty good street-fighting manga, so when Ryusei climbs into his box, or a group of cats are suddenly distracted by a lizard, the break with reality makes it really funny.

With its violent fight scenes and a touch of sexual innuendo, this one is not for the kiddies, but it’s a good pick for anyone who likes action manga, cat manga, and especially, action manga about cats.

--Brigid Alverson