The Travelling Cat Chronicles, by Hiro Arikawa

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First and foremost, “The Travelling Cat Chronicles” by Hiro Arikawa is a tranquil novel that narrates the tale of Satoru and his feline companion, Nana. While the main plot revolves around Satoru searching among his friends for someone who can care for Nana, we are enlightened through flashbacks about the origins of these friendships.

»Yoshimine changed the subject.
“What’s your name?”
“Satoru Miyawaki. Nice to meet you.”
He didn’t have to say anything like Let’s hang out, for by this time they were already friends.

From primary school to university and beyond, the amiable and empathetic Satoru effortlessly forges friendships wherever he ventures. However, it is beyond doubt that the most profound and significant bond in his life is with Nana. They share a mutual trust and affection that transcends words and species. They also support each other through difficult times and enjoy each other’s company.

»Whenever he stayed overnight at Satoru’s, sleeping on the futon beside his bed, he’d often be woken in the early hours by four feet clomping over him. Feeling the weight of a cat’s paws pressing into your shoulders in the middle of the night—not much beats that.«

As is often the case, in this splendidly serene yet vibrantly colourful narrative, the journey, the quest for Nana’s new owner, and the unique experiences shared by Nana and Satoru take precedence. I also liked how the novel gradually reveals the reason for their road trip, and how it connects to Satoru’s past and present. It is a bittersweet and moving twist that makes the reader appreciate their journey even more.

Through five episodic chapters, we organically acquaint ourselves with Satoru as we witness his warm-hearted and understanding interactions with his friends.
Each character is granted ample time and space to unfold, wherein every friend, every companion possesses a well-rounded nature, and the diverse and distinctive relationships with Satoru take centre stage.

Intelligently and occasionally laced with sarcasm and irony, the present is commented upon by Nana, who comprehends every word, yet can only respond to a limited extent.

»“Oh, look—it’s eating. How sweet!”
“So sweet!”
Hey, you idiotic couple. How would you like it if somebody pointed at you while you were eating? And today happens to be a chicken-breast-and-gourmet-seafood blend.
How come cat lovers spot me every time? Whenever we take a break, they swarm around me. Pretty amazing, if you think about it.
If you guys were the ones who fed me, then I’d be as sweet to you as the quality of the food merited, but Satoru’s the one who feeds me. So let me focus on my food. Okay?

However, Nana exhibits exceptional ability in communicating with the animals belonging to his potential new owners…

Arikawa delivers a beautiful, poignant, and utterly cohesive narrative. However, I must confess that my freshwater pool now contains a substantial saline component. Despite occasionally tugging at the heartstrings, the “Chronicles” never become overly sentimental.

I also enjoyed the illustrations at the beginning of each chapter that fit the narration stylistically perfectly. Together, they create a magnificent piece of art. I think the book is a beautiful tribute to the power of friendship and love, and how they can overcome any obstacle or hardship.

Five stars out of five!

Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam

View all my reviews

Leave a Reply