Title: Calico Cat Acupuncture Clinic (Mikeneko Shinkyuin / みけねこ鍼灸院 )
Author: Omi Kohara (Story & Art)
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Josei, Slice of Life
Volumes: 1 [Complete]
Publisher: Shonen Gahosha
Available to Purchase in English?: Yes ( Renta! )
Synopsis: An acupuncture clinic in the mountains that treats both the body and the soul. Allow Dr. Takarayama and his cat, Tamakon, to soothe you in this heart-warming collection of stories! (Renta!)
Anyone who knows me knows that one of my biggest loves in life is cats. Not just my cat but any cat in general. I’m that person who will bend down to random cats in the street and try to get them to come over to me. I don’t have a calico cat unfortunately (just a grey-white mixed bag of who knows which breeds), but I’ve always thought that calico cats are very adorable.
This manga is comprised of several short stories. Sometimes the story focuses on a small cast of characters, while other shorts feature a larger cast of random characters. However in each story there is the same lead character: the calico cat Tamakon from the Takarayama clinic. In later chapters Dr. Takarayama also becomes what I’d consider a main character.
The first couple chapters are rather lighthearted, with Tamakon as the chapter’s focus and Dr. Takarayama being more of a background, “giving advice” NPC-like character. However starting from chapter 3, Dr. Takarayama starts to become a little more involved in the lives of his clients. He tries not to be a busybody, but sometimes he can’t help but subtly try to help the people who come to him for a treatment. For example, in chapters 3 and 4, a client and her coworker come to the clinic both together and separately, and it’s apparent that they have feelings for each other but aren’t quite sure how to act on them. Dr. Takarayama ends up leaving them alone “accidentally” in the clinic together so that they will hopefully act on those feelings and stop being awkward around each other.
In chapter 5 Dr. Takarayama becomes even more involved, standing up for a young woman named Manami when one of her work regulars gets overly attached to her and starts waiting for her outside after her shift ends. Tamakon helps too, putting himself between Manami and the man until Dr. Takarayama can take over. After the man leaves Manami has a mini-breakdown and reveals some of the secrets she’d been hiding from him and everyone else in her life. As a licensed professional I can admit that there are some ethical issues with getting too involved in a client’s personal life, but this is manga so I think those guidelines have been suspended. >>
Later, we learn why the doctor gets involved in the lives of his clients: sometimes healing their body isn’t enough. Sometimes they need a nudge, or a little direction, in helping to make their dreams come true. Whether that’s starting a new relationship, taking better care of their body or learning to heal from a past trauma, Dr. Takarayama always seems to have some gentle advice, some kind words, or even just a big fat cat to help ease their pain and stress.
In the final chapter a new main character is introduced, a young boy named Sousuke with a medical condition which often prevents him from going to school, but a couple of characters from previous chapters also make an appearance. I thought this was a touching way to wrap up the manga and also a good way to show how everyone’s lives are connected in this small town. (At least it seemed like a small town to me.)
Although if you think about it, everyone’s lives in this manga are already connected due to Tamakon and Dr. Takarayama. More than one person makes the connection that Tamakon always seems to magically appear when someone is needing some extra support. And usually Dr. Takarayama isn’t that far behind.
There is an author’s note at the end of the manga and she makes mention of a part 2 as of January 2017. I haven’t seen it anywhere online but I’m not against reading it if I ever find it. I do love cats after all. :3 I was going to comment that the last chapter left this title feeling somewhat unfinished but since there’s supposedly a part 2, that likely explains why.
Do I Recommend This Title to Others?: Definitely. It’s cute fluff, and although some of the later chapters deal into some heavier topics, nothing is ever so serious that an appearance from a fat cat and his owner can’t fix the situation. Having each chapter or chapters be its own self-contained story unfortunately leaves the manga feeling like there’s no overall plot or story, but that’s also kind of the point of the manga. From chapter to chapter, the main constants are Tamakon and his owner Dr. Takarayama and that’s it. It’s a deliberate story design and if you like that setup then you will likely enjoy this title. Plus there are several adorable cats, and how can you go wrong with cats??
Final Score: 8/10
Author’s Note: You may have noticed that I left this title listed as having only one volume, not two. This is because I did actually go searching for the second volume to see if it existed prior to posting this entry, but I was unable to find it. After reading the mangaka’s author’s note again I am a little unsure whether she meant her author’s note was added in Jan 2017 after this title was uploaded online, or part 2 was being released in Jan 2017. Maybe part 2 hasn’t been published outside of Japan or released online yet?