OUR CATS ARE MORE FAMOUS THAN US: A JOHNNY WANDER COLLECTION BY ANANTH HIRSH AND YUKO OTA
Art
Story
Characterization
Summary
Hirsh and Ota understand that they don't need to toil to make life beautiful, only to capture this beauty as simply as possible. OUR CATS ARE MORE FAMOUS THAN US is a cute and joyous celebration of the not always perfect experiences of young adulthood, and the friends that help us survive them.
92 %
400 PAGES OF PURE JOY
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Typically, it’s arduous to get through an omnibus of comics in a single sitting, at no fault of the creators. That’s just not how they’re created to be read. They’re meant to be taken in a little bit at a time and then finally laid to rest on a coffee table, or on the back of a toilet if you have no shame about your bathroom reading habits. As someone who reviews comics, I can’t consume an omnibus in the recommended serving size of one or two strips at a time. I have to power through them and this usually really sucks regardless of how good the actual content is. However, I can honestly say that I read through over 400 pages of OUR CATS ARE MORE FAMOUS THAN US in a single sitting and loved every moment of it.

OUR CATS ARE MORE FAMOUS THAN US is a collection of JOHNNY WANDER comics by Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota. Hirsh and Ota have been working on the webcomic JOHNNY WANDER since 2008, and the comics featured on their website range from purely fictional ongoing stories to autobiographical strips. The OUR CATS ARE MORE FAMOUS THAN US omnibus specifically collects their autobiographical comics.

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For those unfamiliar with JOHNNY WANDER, the title of the collection is a little bit deceiving. Although there is a decent amount of cat-related content, the focus of the collection is mostly on Ananth, Yuko, and their friends and family. The collection is loosely linear, with a few flashbacks sprinkled in to recollect their childhoods and previous home.

OUR CATS ARE MORE FAMOUS THAN US

Although Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota are a real life couple, OUR CATS ARE MORE FAMOUS THAN US does not really present a traditional love story. In fact, if you weren’t paying attention you might have overlooked their relationship entirely until the end of the collection. I’m sure they made the decision to keep their romance low-key in the webcomic to preserve some sense of privacy and intimacy in their relationship. Still, it was actually really refreshing to not be beaten over the head with a love story. Instead, the reader gets to explore the friendship between the couple and their cast of roommates.

In a way, the lack of focus on the romance between Ananth and Yuko makes the close of the collection even sweeter. As a reader, I did not get the feeling that Ananth and Yuko were using their comic to idealize their relationship. In fact, they don’t even make any effort to portray themselves as a couple. Rather, they are portrayed as individual characters who just happen to have a romantic relationship. When Ananth proposes at the collection’s close, it’s obvious that they really appreciate each other as people, not just as a means to a culturally desirable end. Ananth and Yuko are never defined by their relationship to one another. They portray themselves as fully autonomous individuals despite how entangled their lives are both professionally and privately.

OUR CATS ARE MORE FAMOUS THAN USIt’s evident that both Hirsh and Ota’s writing and art have been influenced by manga. OUR CATS ARE MORE FAMOUS THAN US fits perfectly into the “slice of life” genre, a genre that has been championed on a mainstream level by manga and anime. There is no overarching plot and no major conflict driving the story. The comic follows the everyday lives of the creators and manages to find beauty and humor in the weirdness of young adulthood. Ota’s art mixes the expressiveness of manga with a more Westernized style. Like manga often is, her art is monochromatic, utilizing screen tones for shading. Her art also varies in levels of realism, with the characters rendered as cartoons and the settings often rendered more realistically.

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Arguably, the role of the artist in society is to show us the beauty in things we might otherwise overlook. OUR CATS ARE MORE FAMOUS THAT US perfectly encapsulates this. The creators understand that they don’t need to make us laugh out loud every single page. Some of the strips just contain recipes or visual explanations for the Hindu and Japanese traditions of Ananth and Yuko’s respective cultures.

OUR CATS ARE MORE FAMOUS THAN US

Hirsh and Ota understand that they don’t need to toil to make life beautiful, only to capture this beauty as simply as possible. OUR CATS ARE MORE FAMOUS THAN US is a cute and joyous celebration of the not always perfect experiences of young adulthood and the friends that help us survive them. If you need help appreciating the little quirks of your friends or the humor behind the bumps in the road, picking up OUR CATS ARE MORE FAMOUS THAN US is definitely worth your time.

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