So, I’m not going to lie, when Yen Press licensed Hard-Boiled Stories from the Cat Bar, all I did was look at the cover, drop a gif from Rick & Morty saying I’m in, and didn’t look into anything else. Picking up a manga on cover and title alone is a time-tested tradition, and in this case, the promise of hot guys plus cute cats was enough to seal the deal. Then I read it, and man, it’s a ride—and a good one at that.
Created, written, and illustrated by Yurei Ono, Hard-Boiled Stories from the Cat Bar is localized in English and published by Yen Press, translated by Ajani Oloye, and features lettering by Abigail Blackman. In this one-shot (god, I hope there are sequels), we follow hardened men with a soft spot for cats in the home away from home: Kitty and Me, a dive bar filled with cats. While the ex-yakuza and hitmen fill the bar to forget their problems, there is one rule: When inside, do not dare harm the cats that call it home.
The main characters in Hard-Boiled Stories from the Cat Bar are the hitman known as Undertaker and an ex-detective with a noticeable scar on his cheek. Despite his job as a ruthless killer, Undertaker finds himself in the unenviable situation of mourning the recent loss of his beloved pet, Cheriko. At Kitty and Me, to help his grieving process, Undertaker discovers that his next target is a fellow cat lover, and the bloody truth about Undertaker’s latest job is knocking at the door.
Now, to get this out of the way first, yes, Hard-Boiled Stories from the Cat Bar delivers when it comes to attractive criminals, ex-criminals, and detectives. Plus, Ono illustrates some of the most adorable and protective cats to boot. So, for the initial reason that I wanted to read this one-shot, it succeeds. But, it also pushes past its gimmick and delivers a hard-boiled crime mystery that fully embraces the noir tropes and uses them to build a genuinely interesting story. There are misdirections, intrigue, and a roundtable interrogation with a bar full of possible murderers.
In truth, this one shot is a fantastic story for the noir detective genre. And the fact that Ono can do this by throwing in so many cats makes this a perfect read. Overall, Hard-Boiled Stories from the Cat Bar is an extremely satisfying read and one I can’t recommend enough. The art, story, and quirky nature work perfectly together.
Hard-Boiled Stories From The Cat Bar is available wherever books are sold now.
Hard-Boiled Stories From The Cat Bar
In truth, Hard-Boiled Stories from the Cat Bar is a fantastic story for the noir detective genre. And the fact that Ono can do this by throwing in so many cats makes this a perfect read. Overall, Hard-Boiled Stories from the Cat Bar is an extremely satisfying read and one I can’t recommend enough. The art, story, and quirky nature work perfectly together.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.