what's michael cover
What's Michael?
  • Translated Manga Pick of the Month


    Dark Horse Comics is taking the welcome step of reprinting Studio Proteus's English adaptation of Makoto Kobayashi's WHAT'S MICHAEL?, released originally through the now-defunct Eclipse in the late 1980s. Kobayashi (no apparent relation to the brilliant SUPER ATRAGON mecha designer of the same name), in the aptly-named WHAT'S MICHAEL? shows us various short stories, all revolving around an ordinary orange tabby cat named "Michael."

    "Michael" is owned by various people; he gets into various situations. It soon becomes obvious that it's a generic name, a "John Smith" for any one of various generic cats in the humorous stories. The point is to show how all cats tend to act alike, and how human beings can either suffer for it or adapt to it -- but we shouldn't expect the cats to change.

    To take only one example from WHAT'S MICHAEL?, if you've spent a bit of time with a cat, you'll note that their dignity prevents them from admitting when they screw up. When one owner, upon seeing Michael go into a "I meant to do that" dance after clumsily whacking his head on the coffee table, he mistakenly concludes that he has been blessed with a dancing cat. He then calls in reporters and photographers; the attempts to get him to dance again only further affronting Michael's dignity.what's michael image The punchline to the story is perfection.

    The first volume of WHAT'S MICHAEL?, "Michael's Album," is currently available, with the second, "Living Together," slated for a July release. At least two more are promised, and if sales are good, Dark Horse may delve further into what was an eight-volume series in Japan. Let's hope they will. WHAT'S MICHAEL? volumes are 86 pages each, retailing for US$5.95.


    Carl Gustav Horn
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    What's Michael ©1997 Makoto Kobayashi. English translation ©1997 Studio Proteus and Dark Horse Comics, Inc.
    ©1997 Viz Communications, Inc.