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Manga / Coffee & Cat

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Kon Nishikori didn't know what to do after he failed his university exams. Unable to face his incredibly strict grandfather, he winds up fleeing all the way to Hakodate, Hokkaido, where he becomes stranded without food or money. That's when he's stopped by a stranger named Ayakane Tachikawa, who mistakes Kon for a jumper. Seeing Kon's distress and the loving way with which he takes care of his cat M'Lady, Ayakane offers Kon a room, food, and a part-time job at his family's cafe. Without anywhere else to go, Kon agrees.

Kon soon finds that the cafe is stuffed with neglected cats and rushes to groom all of them. It turns out that the cats are part of the cafe- er, junkissa the Tachikawa family inherited from their grandfather, and Kon is just the (unpaid) cat butler they need to take care of them.

But he has one last secret he hasn't told them. Kon can talk to cats, seeing them as human beings. Not only that, he literally cannot live without M'Lady nearby.

Coffee & Cat (Junikssa Neko) is a Slice of Life manga by Yukiru Sugisaki, which began serialization in Monthly Comic BiRZ in 2012. It follows Kon "Nikkori" Nishikori as he's surrounded by cats and coffee, all while coming to grips with himself and his future.

Coffee and Cat contains examples of:

  • A Boy and His X: Kon and M'Lady are especially close among all the cats in the story, to the point that Kon doesn't mind his Curse of being unable to live away from her at all since he loves her so much. The feeling appears to be mutual, as while M'Lady never converses with Kon the way other cats do, she's always calm and content around him but screams and scratches at the door to get back to him when they are separated.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Based on Kon's conversations with cats, they're all fully sapient and actually quite talkative. Mundo Novo goes on at length about the quality of a recurring customer's picture book, while Bourbon insists that he's a European noble. Kon doesn't reveal this to anyone else out of fear of being called a freak for being able to talk to cats.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Downplayed. Kon is aghast at the state of the Tachikawas' cats and rushes to groom six months of unbrushed hair off of all of them, clean their bowls, and feed them. The Tachikawas never actually wanted the cats, but in their grandfather's will he insists that the cats be taken care of. As a result, the Tachikawas don't actually know how to care for them or even their names, showing that the sorry state the cats are in at the beginning of the story is more out of ignorance than malicious neglect.
  • Curse: Kon's grandfather was cursed to become incredibly ill whenever he's separated from M'Lady after refusing to serve her former owner. The curse has since extended to Kon, but he loves M'Lady so much that he doesn't mind.
  • Does Not Like Spam: Kon has a distaste for bitter foods in general due to his grandfather forcing him to drink cup after cup of bitter tea and nothing else. Because of this, he nonchalantly adds several cubes of sugar and a load of milk to Hyoma's coffee, accidentally enraging him in the process. In time, Kon grows to appreciate Hyoma's coffee despite his dislike of bitter things, calling it delicious as he learns more about the specifics of coffeemaking.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The whole brushing scene in Chapter 2 is one big sex joke. Peaberry screams about being molested while Kon roughly brushes her to get the excess fur off. Mundo Novo and Caturra both watch in horror as Kon brushes Bourbon who yells about not being touched. Caturra howls in pain and tells Kon not to do it so intensely and to be more gentle. There's then a Smash Cut as Caturra screams "Ahhhhhh!" to a black panel full of roses.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Peaberry doesn't like her name and insists on being called Myu-Myu, while Bourbon hates his name and wants to be called Anthony Ewan Valentine. Unfortunately for them, Kon doesn't want to be called a freak for his ability to talk to cats, so he can only make minor suggestions that the Tachikawas don't particularly care for.
  • Education Mama: Kon's grandfather forced him to drink nothing but bitter tea and drilled him in the making of it ever since Kon was little. He also pressures Kon constantly to pass his university exams. The thought of telling his grandfather that he failed is so terrifying to Kon that he flees across the country rather than face his grandfather's ire.
  • Edutainment: Although the story is largely focused on the comedic antics Kon gets up to in mediating between the Tachikawa siblings, their cats, and the customers, it also goes into great depth about the history of coffee in Japan as well as classical coffee preparation techniques.
  • Family Business: The Tachikawa siblings inherited their junkissa from their grandfather, an avid coffeemaker. While Hyoma carries on his legacy with pride, Ayakane is good at it but is not interested in it, while Hotsuka is completely apathetic to his grandfather's shop. Kon's family also owns a fairly famous tea shop run by his grandfather, who is implied to have been drilling Kon into being his successor.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Hyoma is this to his younger siblings, Akatane and Hotsuka. Hyoma is the uptight and responsible sibling who took over his grandfather's junkissa with pride. Meanwhile, Akatane is a carefree and uninhibited university student who doesn't care for coffee-making despite being good at it, while Hotsuka is a middle school student who is completely apathetic to his grandfather's legacy.
  • Groin Attack: Kon is on the receiving end of this because of the awkward placement of the tip pocket on his work apron. So when Akatane's admirers shove various gifts for him into Kon's apron, it's like getting punched in the groin.
  • Implausible Deniability: After pulling out a notepad and writing down all of the cats requests for dinner, Ayakane asks if Kon speaks cat. Embarrassed and flustered, Kon quickly rushes out the door rather than giving a proper answer.
  • In-Series Nickname: Ayakane introduces Kon as "Nikkori" a contraction of Kon's surname, "Nishikori". Although Kon tries to correct him, the nickname sticks, and Kon has since accepted it and responds to it.
  • Insistent Terminology: Hyoma refers to call the family coffee shop anything but a junkissa, growing irate whenever someone calls it a cafe. This is because a junkissa only sells coffee and tea, whereas a cafe also sells sweets.
  • Invisible to Normals: Tama, a nekomata, is invisible to everyone but Kon, who has the ability to see cats as people and communicate with them.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Kon is a Nice Guy who adores cats, M'Lady in particular, and doesn't see his inability to be away from her as a burden since he gets to spend so much time with her. His ability to groom, feed, and care for cats ends up making him the perfect addition to the Tachikawa household, as none of the brothers properly cared for the cats left behind by their grandfather.
  • Long-Lived: M'Lady was left at Kon's family tea shop forty years ago, but is still perfectly happy, healthy, and energetic to this day. Ayakane and Hyoma point out the absurdity of this, given that cats rarely live longer than 20 years, but Kon complains that M'Lady is right here.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: Kon cannot function without M'Lady nearby, collapsing from nausea whenever he's forcibly separated from her. This means that Kon has to carry her everywhere he goes, permanently barring him from any institution that doesn't allow pets. And while his friends from school tried to help him with his problem, M'Lady was ultimately found in the middle of his university exams, resulting in an immediate F.
  • Magic Realism: The story focused on Kon's struggles to find a purpose after failing his university exams and feeling squeamish about going back to his Education Mama grandfather. His primary source of solace is his love for his cat M'Lady, whom he literally can't live without. He also has the unexplained ability to talk to cats and sees them as human beings.
  • Men Can't Keep House: Downplayed. Hyoma keeps the junkissa spick and span, but when it comes to cooking, the Tachikawa siblings generally rely on easy-to-prepare microwavable dishes and curry. They also have no idea how to take care of their cats until Kon arrives to groom and feed them.
  • One-Note Cook: Kon is noted to be an excellent cook and ends up doing most of the cooking for the Tachikawas. However, Hotsuka and Akatane complain that Kon only makes old-fashioned and traditional dishes, as Kon learned to cook from his grandfather. While Kon struggles to brew coffee, being the heir to a tea shop that has been around for generations means that he's an excellent tea brewer, though he admits that he never grasped the "soul" of tea.
  • Parrot Pet Position: Kon usually carries M'Lady around in his backpack, and she perches herself on his shoulder with her arms wrapped around his neck.
  • Perpetual Smiler: M'Lady is almost always happy and content, and her default expression is a cheerful Cat Smile even when she's confused. The author explicitly modeled her after a British Shorthair for their calm demeanor and constant smile.
  • Plot Allergy:
    • Kon had initially planned to stay with his senpai, though said senpai failed to mention that he was living with his (now ex-)girlfriend who is incredibly allergic to cats. The shock of it along with Kon's fear of his own grandfather is what made him flee from Kyoto to Tokyo before finally landing in Hakodate.
    • Hotsuka also suffers from cat allergies, which contributes to his apathy for his grandfather's Family Business, as taking care of the cats is a requirement for the inheritance.
  • Serious Business:
    • Hyoma treats his craft with the utmost seriousness and strives to produce a perfect cup of coffee every time. While he acknowledges that the customer is always right, a part of him dies inside whenever someone dilutes it with needless amounts of sugar and milk. He's especially hurt when the customers says nothing and leave, as he'll never be able learn what went wrong and improve.
    • Similarly, Kon's grandfather prides himself on his teamaking skills and tried to drill Kon into becoming a worthy heir. This included forcing Kon to drink cup after cup of bitter tea and nothing else as well as training him in the preparation of tea. But the experience was so unpleasant that Kon developed a distaste for bitter things and could never find a cup of tea truly delicious again.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Hyoma is almost always seen in an impeccable dress shirt and waistcoat, owing to his work as the master of Coffee & Cat.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: According to Kon, his grandfather cheated a foreigner who asked to be served his best tea by serving him his cheapest tea instead. Apparently outraged, the foreigner left his cat, M'Lady behind, and since then Kon and his grandfather are overcome with nausea whenever they're separated from M'Lady.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Bourbon has a huge ego and appears as a finely dressed nobleman to Kon. Bourbon hates his name and wants to be called Anthony Ewan Valentine on top of maintaining a haughty, distant personality unless Akatane pushes his Berserk Button, but Bourbon is still an ordinary housecat.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Kon sees cats as people in addition to their usual selves and can converse with them. He's embarrassed by this ability of his and hides it out of fear of being ostracized and kicked out. Unusually enough, M'Lady is the only cat he doesn't see this way, nor is Kon or the reader ever privy to her thoughts.
  • Sweet Tooth: Because he hates bitter things, Kon has a tendency to overfill his coffee with milk and sugar, much to Hyoma's chagrin.
  • Theme Naming: The Tachikawas' cats are all named after types of coffee: Peaberry, Pacamara, Caturra, Bourbon, and Mundo Nuvo.
  • Title Drop: When Kon first arrives at the Tachikawas' junkissa, its name is visible on the front door and Kon reads it aloud.
  • Training from Hell: As an only child, Kon is expected to take over the family teashop by his grandfather, who practically drowned him in bitter tea and forced him to master teamaking techniques. While Kon is an expert at the technical aspects of tea, the experience has given him a deep dislike of bitter things in general and he's terrified of his grandfather's wrath.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: Panels featuring M'Lady have a tendency to focus on her eyes, and seeing how sparkling and content they are is what convinces Ayakane to drag Kon home to work as a full-time cat butler.