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Manga: Cat Paradise

Cat Paradise (Known as Gakuen Sousei Nekoten!, literally Academy Genesis: Cat Heaven! in Japan) is a shounen manga created by Yuji Iwahara, author of King of Thorn.

Yumi Hayakawa is just starting high school at Matabi Private Academy, a school where students are allowed to have cats on campus. Her only companion is her kitty Kansuke, whom she loves to knit ridiculous outfits for in her spare time. On their first day at the academy, Yumi gets along pretty well with her fellow students, meanwhile Kansuke gets acquainted with the local cats, and it looks like things might just shape up to be a good year...

At least, for the first half of the first day.

Yumi and Kansuke quickly learn that the school is involved with an century-old grudge, involving Matabi Academy's founder and a group of creatures known as the Spirit Beasts; gods of the animal world. Apparently the cat Spirit Beast, Kaen, is sealed beneath the campus under unknown circumstances, and now his followers are scheming to free him and exact their wrath on humanity. The academy's only means of protection are a magical barrier that inhibit the Spirit Beasts, and a group of chosen ones selected to combat any threat to the school or it's residents. And who just happen to be the student council and their cats.

In a quick succession of events, Yumi and Kansuke are inducted as a new pair of guardians to help keep the Spirit Beasts at bay, while the student council digs deeper into the mysteries surrounding the area that the academy was built on, and the true pretenses of why the Spirit Beasts want to destroy it so darn badly.

This series contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Shin's sword can slice Spirit Beasts in half when enough power is used.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Played straight, especially with the cats. It doesn't matter if Kansuke's butt takes up most of a panel; there's nothing to be beheld.
  • Animals Not to Scale: The Spirit Beasts are always larger (and typically more lethal-looking) than the rest of their species. Usually by a lot.
  • Archer Archetype: Tsubame is this, being able to transform Sakura into a bow. Thanks to his "Eyes of the Symbol", he can hit anything, even while not looking at it, or being miles away from it.
  • Balloon Belly: Sakira gets this after eating Futaba and Gekkou.
  • BFS: Shin's Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (Sword of Gathering Clouds in the Heavens) is so large that he uses it to stop a free fall by stabbing it into the ground.
  • Battle Aura: Kiba gives off an enormous one when he gets serious during his fight with some of the council members. It's shaped like a huge, white wolf, and getting him to show it signifies that you're royally screwed.
  • Big Bad: Kaen.
  • Bigger Bad: Nobuhisa/Akitaka Sandou, the founder of Matabi Academy and Princess Kirihime's fiancée.
  • Big Good: Princess Kirihime.
  • Blow You Away: Hisui can control the wind, and allow Kaiya to surf on it with his board.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Shirayuki contains a portion of Kaen's power and thus succumbs to his control once he decides to lead an attack on the humans. People start dying shortly after.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Raimu, who spends most of his time asleep or complaining about how he should be asleep, and yet manages to defeat one of the Sacred Beasts by himself, without it even knowing.
  • Casting a Shadow: Gekkou can do this, and can use shadows for surveillance, to capture people, and even to corrode some substances that his shadow falls on. Futaba uses her power to allow him to cast bigger shadows.
  • Cat Boy: Kansuke becomes one of these whenever he dons an outfit that Yumi knits with her power. Gekkou's shadows can also take the form of a rather Stripperific cat girl.
  • Cats Are Magic: When you consider that, barring the Spirit Beasts and their own owners, they're the only animals getting all of the special powers...
  • Cats Are Mean: Well, some of them are, anyway. All of the dorm cats are generally good at heart, although they do tend to be deadpan snarkers. Played straight with Kaen, though.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Kansuke and Tsubame.
  • Clingy Jealous Cat: Dear god, Hisui! She's so possessive of her "darling" Kaiya that just bringing up another girl (usually Kotori) will send her into a tizzy. This usually entails calling Kotori a bimbo and/or commenting about her breasts.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Tsukasa is a fairly avid womanizer (he's implied to be The Casanova, so he can afford it somewhat), and he makes a game of groping the nearest pair of breasts whenever he feels so inclined to, but he will not tolerate a girl in danger for any reason. Even if he's not conscious and shouldn't be aware of it.
  • Combat Tentacles: Tsukasa employs these to subdue Rachi while inside Raimu's dream box, via a giant nautilus.
  • Cunning Like a Fox / Fantastic Foxes: Tsukumoisshu. He doesn't quite look like one, though, at least not at first.
    Tsukasa: More importantly, is that thing really a fox?
  • Cutlass Between the Teeth: Kansuke does this with the Dagger of Futakago, to slice Sandou's neck open.
  • Dark-Skinned Blond: Technically dark-skinned white-hair, but Tsubame becomes one after getting possessed by Kaen.
  • Death by Childbirth: This nearly happens to Yumi when Sandou tries to force her to give birth to Princess Kiri. Note that the princess was supposedly going to develop instantaneously while inside Yumi's womb.
  • Dragged into Drag: Poor Kansuke...
  • Enemy Mine: The Spirit Beasts pull this with the student council at the very end, in a sudden attack against Sandou when they realize that he doesn't really care about what they want anymore.
  • Equippable Ally: Yamato, who can fuse with Shin's sword to power up his attacks, and Sakura, who can transform into a bow.
  • Flash Step: Some of the Spirit Beasts are capable of this, most notably Kiba.
  • Giant Spider: Rachi.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Gekkou has a few; they're pretty noticeable. Inverted in that he's a good guy.
    • Kansuke has a smaller but still prominent one on his forehead. Yumi gave it to him.
  • Heroic Bystander: Shinpachi, a slightly meek stray cat who doesn't even have a real name until Yumi gives him one. When his friend Ponta goes missing, he takes it upon himself to investigate and ends up joining Yumi while she looks for Kansuke. To elaborate, the Spirit Beast Rachi ate Ponta and tries to eat Yumi as well, later on. Shinpachi, scared out of his mind no doubt, latches onto Rachi's face in an attempt to prevent her from doing so. While he doesn't hold her off for very long (and comes extremely close to getting eaten himself), his intervention created just enough of a delay for Tsukasa to arrive and subdue Rachi. If he hadn't done it then both he and Yumi very likely would've died.
    • All of the normal dorm cats pull this off later in the story. Kaen and his followers have begun their assault on the academy, endangering everyone there, so what do they do? Once all of the students & faculty are gathered in a shelter, the cats (Shinpachi included) hold a perimeter around said shelter and activate a special magic that the barrier allows them to use only once. This magic spontaneously brews a blizzard so thick that it brings the whole conflict to a halt, giving the student council the upper hand. This was never hinted at at all in the story, but it works very effectively.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Princess Kirihime gave up both hers and Shirayuki's chances on the afterlife in order to protect the barrier, and the world, from Kaen, by anchoring their souls to the barrier and waiting several centuries for him to make his move.
  • Heroic Vow: Kansuke vowed to always protect Yumi in return for protecting him from getting run over by a truck and taking him in. Hilarity Ensues when she reveals that she protected him in the first place because she ran him over with her bike, giving him the same scar that he vows on, and that she didn't see the truck.
  • He Was Right There All Along: Sandou was hiding in Tsukumoisshu's collection of heads the whole time.
    • Kiba provides a more complicated example. We knew he was possessing an academy student, but we sure didn't know it was Kaiya, which means that this applies to both of them whenever the other is around.
  • Humans Are Bastards: For the most part, the Spirit Beasts believe this without question. It serves as a prime cause for their actions throughout the story.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Tsukumoisshu. Multiple times.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Hakubi, a white dragon and implied to be the last surviving member of his species.
  • Little Bit Beastly: Kansuke's Cat Boy form, obviously. Other than that, Rachi can make Aki's body grow various spider parts at will, while keeping it otherwise normal. Hakubi can do the same with Amakusa, but with dragon wings & a tail instead.
  • A Love to Dismember: Tsukumoisshu has a collection of severed human heads that he keeps hidden underneath his precious locks. With the hair of the heads WEAVED into his own hair.
  • Lunacy: Futaba's "Moonlight Butterflies", which she uses to enhance Gekkou's shadow-casting powers, create barriers, and heal wounds.
  • MacGuffin: The Dagger of Futakago. It doubles as a Chekhov's Gun in the end.
  • Martial Pacifist: Kotori is a firm believer that issues can be solved through talking instead of with violence. But as the pig Spirit Beast could attest, if you'd rather fight anyway, she and Musashimaru will persuade you otherwise... after they've pummeled you enough.
  • Mix-and-Match Critter: Rachi is supposed to emulate a spider primarily, but her true form has characteristics of other insects as well. Namely, wings, antennae, and an abdomen like a wasp, huge mandibles and a shell like a beetle, and sickle-like legs similar to those of a praying mantis. She still has the eight legs, eyes, and web-spinning ability of a spider, though.
  • Morality Pet: Gekkou is one for Futaba, both figuratively and literally.
  • Morph Weapon: Kaiya's board, which is a "macromolecular material" capable of changing shape.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Yumi's power is knitting. And yet, she can create practically indestructible structures out of it just be thinking, and can turn her cat into a lethal warrior with silly outfits. Suffice to say, it comes in handy quite often.
    • Kotori's is cooking... special food that allows Musashimaru to grow to the size of a mountain.
    • Sandou manages to defeat six of the seven pairs, and Kansuke in full Cat Boy form, with barbed wire. Magically enhanced barbed wire most likely, but still impressive.
  • Orochi: Sakira.
  • Out of Focus: Even the mangaka doesn't think that Yumi really did all that much...
    • Out of every member of the student council, Kaiya probably gets the least development. He has no flashbacks to himself, and he doesn't really get much important focus, either. That is, until Fridge Logic kicks in and you realize that he's technically present whenever Kiba is, as well.
    • And by association, Hisui is the least developed cat in the story. Even one-off cat Shinpachi ends up contributing more to the plot than she does.
  • Panthera Awesome: Kaen, a nekomata whose about as big as a bus, and whose body is almost constantly engulfed in flames. There's also Shirayuki, and the dorm cats have their moments, too.
  • Physical Gods: The Spirit Beasts.
  • Petting Zoo People: Kiba's form while possessing Kaiya is basically just him, but humanoid. The same goes for Tsukumoisshu while possessing the academy's vice principal. Also, while not in the story itself, Iwahara mentions at the end of one volume that he'd planned to make Kansuke become a full-on anthropomorphic cat when utilizing Yumi's power. He changed it to a Cat Boy upon deciding that the design was too creepy.
  • Playing with Fire: Again, Kaen. His name is literally "flame", and he owns up to it quite nicely. According to Tsubame, his flames are so potent that they can melt the earth itself, and trigger earthquakes and eruptions.
    • Musashimaru can breathe fire after eating particularly spicy foods.
    • Shirayuki did this while under Kaen's control.
  • Power-Up Food: Kotori's power.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Kiba. Although he's a Spirit Beast and one of Kaen's subordinates, he's much more calm and not nearly as hateful as the rest. Even in a fight where he could've easily killed all of the pairs, he chooses not to. His reasoning is that an all-war with humanity won't solve anything, and considering how his species evolved and now coexists peacefully with humans, he doesn't see any purpose in despising them. Kaiya picked up on this, willingly allowing Kiba to possess him earlier on, and he even teams up with the council after all of the Spirit Beasts are set free in the climax.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    • Downplayed with Futaba. They are red, and she is definitely not a people person, but she's still a good person in general.
    • Kaen plays it straight even while inside Tsubame's body.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Princess Kirihime took it upon herself to personally watch over the barrier, anticipate any signs of it weakening, and await Kaen's return.
  • Savage Wolves / Noble Wolf: Kiba is a complex example. On one hand, he's a villain, but on the other hand, it's of the punch clock variety and he notes how his species coexists with humans.
  • Shock and Awe: Daraku can create huge thunderclouds in his likeness that have this effect.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Invoked by Shin, in that this is actually how his ability works. He can wield his sword normally for extended periods of time just fine, but he can only dish out one significantly strong blow at a time, and becomes fatigued if he has to do it more than once. Thus, most battles that he wins end like this.
  • Sinister Scythe: Rachi can produce one.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: A lot of the characters aren't above using expletives, but Kansuke has to be the worst offender.
  • Sixth Ranger: Technically, Yumi and Kansuke are this to the student council, despite being the main characters.
  • Sky Surfing: Kaiya and Hisui's preferred method of transit.
  • Space Master / Time Master: Tsukasa, who can alter time and space to trap people inside of Raimu's dreams, where he has absolute control over everything.
  • The Stoic: Futaba and Gekkou.
    • Not So Stoic: It's heavily implied that Futaba acts stoic because her father was stabbed to death after committing theft, while her mother took off with all of his savings. Consequently, she was ostracized by her schoolmates when word got out, and became detached from people in general. She took in Gekkou so she wouldn't feel lonely or have to worry about being abandoned again.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: The ghost that helps Daraku capture the council members. She lost her feet in a car accident and later hung herself, but hopes to take some from one of the girls as replacements. Though it later turns out that she's not the ghost of a girl who lost her feet, but the ghost of the feet that were lost by the same girl in the accident.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: The council kids can't help but feel bad after Kiba tells them the real story of how the Spirit Beasts were sealed away. However, Kiba warns them that feeling this way will more likely just get them killed.
  • Take That: Hakubi gives one to Kiba, for being so loyal to humanity.
    Hakubi: Why are you going so far to help the humans? They are a different species. Is it because they are smart? Or is it just out of curiosity? No, wait. Or could it be because your species thrived?
  • Technicolor Fire: Kaen's flames are supposed to be blue, according to some comments in the story. However, if colored pages are to be believed, it's more likely that they're the normal orange-yellow color most of the time, and blue when he's sufficiently fired up.
  • True Companions: The students and their cats, mostly.
    • Believe it or not, Tsukumoisshu and Kaen are these. It's kind of jarring to see two giant, murderous demons shooting the breeze like old friends. Furthered when Tsukumoisshu gets killed; Kaen is NOT pleased.
  • Undying Loyalty: Tsukumoisshu feels that he owes his life to Kaen for saving his life some time in the past. It gets him killed.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: This becomes Yumi's life shortly after she arrives at the academy. Of course, the student council has been doing it for a while now.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After Rachi is defeated and her body is destroyed, the implications are that she's Not Quite Dead; her soul, and thus her consciousness, can continue to exist within the barrier, even if she can't return to the world of the living. Since Sandou destroys the barrier in the climax, it's anyone's guess what becomes of her in the end, because we don't hear from her after she disappears.
  • Willing Channeler: Kaiya allows Kiba to possess him because he's aware of Kiba's status as a Punch Clock Villain.
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