Otaku USA Magazine
Moto Hagio’s All-Ages Manga Lil’ Leo Stars an Endearing Talking Cat

Lil’ Leo (Leo-kun in the original Japanese) is about an endearing talking cat. Leo is two-years-old and lives with a woman he thinks of as his mother, and it’s never questioned how or why he can talk. It’s just taken for granted, and this allows Leo to go on a series of adventures.

In his first adventure, he wants to go to school because a neighborhood boy does and Leo wants to get flan from school lunches. He gets himself a backpack and sits in the classroom, but keeps getting in trouble with the teacher. You can’t help but feel bad for him when he gets scolded for going to the bathroom outside, licking himself in the classroom, and distracting people by thumping his tail. It shows how sensitive and terrifying going to school can be for little kids.

From there he has other adventures, including helping out as a mangaka’s assistant (you might learn a bit about how manga is made by this story arc), eating lots of cat food to help a cat magazine review them (and gaining a ton of weight from it), and going on marriage interviews with various (human) women. Each chapter contains a different story, and the chapters vary in length and depth of plot. But all the stories are pretty cute, and even if Leo messes up sometimes, he’s always sweet and likable. The drawings fit well with the characters and bringing out both emotions and cuteness.

Lil’ Leo is written and drawn by Moto Hagio, who is most known for her pioneering shojo and boys’ love work (though she demurs as to her own pioneering work in the latter category). At any rate, this is pretty different from what she’s best known for, especially among American readers, because only some of her stuff has been licensed. Lil’ Leo can be read and enjoyed by anyone from childhood through adulthood, especially cat lovers. There are a number of cat manga out there, and this is a welcome addition to the cat manga library. Denpai also published Hagio’s science fiction manga They Were Eleven!, and it’s great to see more of her extensive work being licensed in America. Lil’ Leo is currently available for pre-order.

Story & Art: Moto Hagio
Publisher: Denpa


Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, and its sequel, Manga Art for Intermediates, with professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.