Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"My father brought me down here just about every day
this place was my playground."
"The Louvre was your playground! Sounds fantastic."
"I had a sister a few years older than me
she looked a bit like you
"She was wonderful, bright, beautiful
"Even as a child I knew she stood out.
"The whole family loved her
and so did I."
"She's gone now."
"One day she just disappeared
here, in the Louvre."
"It happened about 50 years ago
But what does that have to do with cats I hear you feline lovers cry?! Well, here's the publisher to put down their tempting treat to tempt you to taste
"A surreal tale of the secret world of the cats of the Louvre, told by Eisner Award winner Taiyo Matsumoto. The world-renowned Louvre museum in Paris contains more than just the most famous works of art in history. At night, within its darkened galleries, an unseen and surreal world comes alive-a world witnessed only by the small family of cats that lives in the attic."
But what does that have to do with the decades old disappearance of young Arrieta, sister of the Louvre's long-serving night shift shuffler Marcel, I hear you mystery lovers cry?!
the two are not connected per se, to begin with at least, but the curious nocturnal, and occasionally brazen diurnal, wanderings of one particular tiny white kitty called Snowbébé gradually begins to occasion young Louvre guide Cécile to form a most outlandish theory indeed
that perhaps Arrieta might just be somewhere inside the Louvre still...
And no, she's not transformed into a cat I hear you feline mystery lovers cry! The truth is
even stranger than that
With that said, when the cats are alone, you will frequently see them semi-transform into humans. Well, human-ish heads and occasionally limbs and frame. It's entirely an artistic conceit, though, rather than an actual genuine reverse-Manimal-style transformation, usually employed when the cats are are conversing amongst themselves, musing about their Louvre attic and roof-bound lives, punctuated with the odd full moon flit to the park for a frolic.
So where is Arrieta then? Well, I'm not going to spoil that for you, just suffice to say it is precisely the sort of idiosyncratic idea you might expect from the madcap genius that brought us the deliriously unhinged TEKKON KINKREET, though, in truth this is much closer in tone to the ever-escalating oddness of GOGO MONSTER, artfully combined with the ensemble cast capers of SUNNY. For at times, the bickering, playful faux-family of cats really reminded me of the faux and real orphans in that rather moving work.
Art-wise, Matsumoto is on absolute top form. A rolling mixture of panels with relatively sparse detail, sometime substantial solid black areas and also sensuously detailed shading create an undulating, rippling of textures for the eyes. The contrast he portrays between the daily epic bustle and then nightly deathly quiet Louvre is magnificent. There is also, in addition to the typical colour manga lead-in pages, a particularly impressive colour double page spread of which I shall say so no more for fear of spoilers. Though I will say it doesn't include a cat
And of course, Matsumoto manages to squeeze in his trademark runny-nosed kid with a candle of snot dangling away, during a school excursion to the museum! I swear there must be some running (nose pun intended ho ho!!) joke going on there.