Writer: Alex de Campi
Artist: Federica Manfredi
Released: July 2006
Synopsis: “When Kat’s dad gets a job as a science teacher, things seem perfect – that is, until Kat’s rich, popular classmates shove her to the bottom of the social heap for being smart. And bad turns to worse when an anonymous student blackmails Kat’s dad to give the class better grades! Can Kat and her new friend, the rebellious computer nerd Mouse, find the real culprits before Kat’s dad loses his job?”
From page one, Kat & Mouse is a story that stepped straight out of after-school television. Starring a small, but all stereotype-inclusive cast, it’s perfectly aimed at its 8-12 market with the tackling of everyday issues following the life of the new kid. Of course, Kat isn’t just any new kid and seems ready with her brains and charisma to take whatever the new school throws at her, from snobbish rich kids to an embarrassing first meet with the impending crush.
The story in Kat & Mouse feels pretty uninspired and doesn’t have anything that pops out as new or inventive. However it’s quaint and well executed and does manage to stay interesting with some well-written characters that come across as entertaining over annoying. Some parts are good for a chuckle and others manage to so simply sum up social school life that one can only nod their head with a bit of a smile.
Federica Manfredi’s artwork is really nice and suitable for the story’s cast and setting, showing their years of experience making comics. The backgrounds in particular are eye catching with lots of details and attractive line quality. In contrast, the characters are drawn much simpler but with designs unique to each other and in a cartoon-like style that uses semi-realistic features. The art style isn’t what most would immediately associate as the ‘manga’ style and though it seems complimented more by colour, it does work fairly well in the black and white screen toned comic format.
With a brisk 96 page count, Kat & Mouse is definitely, and literally, a light read from Tokyopop’s Manga Readers collection. It works well for the story though, keeping it from feeling too dragged on and the mystery too unrealistically drawn out, not to mention out of the attention span of the target audience. It’s not an epic book but one that does a good job at being exactly what it’s supposed to be: a short, nice quality book for young readers looking for a bit of school life and mystery.