Creator: Takuya Fujima
Publisher: Del Rey
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy
RRP: $10.95
Free Collars Kingdom v2
Reviewed by Dan Polley

Adventurous catboys and catgirls fill the pages of Takuya Fujima’s “Free Collars Kingdom.” These characters are anthropomorphic animals who battle each other in a series of turf wars and catfights. One of the interesting characteristics of the series is when the anthropomorphic cats are drawn as their human masters see them, leading to a dichotomy of how the characters view themselves with how humans view them.

The second volume starts out with Scottie, one of the catgirls, being bathed and cleaned by her owner in a hilarious setting for the volume. Scottie is one of the Free Collars gang, a band of catboys and catgirls who have come together to provide camaraderie.

The action gets furry when members of the Free Collars find out they’re working in the same place as Siam, one of their main enemies. One of the other subplots through the book is that of Cyan, one of the Free Collars. In the volume, he faces circumstances that force him to choose between Scottie, the catgirl he loves, or his other Free Collars friends.

Although Del Ray gives the volume an Older Teen rating, some of the content — mainly the art — can sometimes be a bit sexually adventuresome. There isn’t anything explicit, but some of the character designs are on the racy end. But the publisher does a good job in piling in content into this volume to the tune of 220 pages of story, which is much more substantial than the average manga volume.

Fujima’s art is full of expression and leaps off the page. At points it gets weighted down with too much happening in the background or too many darker panels, which lessen the effects of the art itself. But the art does a wonderful job of bringing the moodiness and complexities of catgirls and catboys to the page and showing there’s far more adventure out there outside of the human kingdom.

The plot is light and airy. At the same time, there’s enough action in the volume to satiate the thirst of any shonen fans. The use of anthropomorphic characters brings a certain fascinating feel to the series, but also manages to keep the plot moving.

“Free Collars Kingdom” is an adventurous and fun romp through the world — and eyes and ears — of cats. It provides for some great sequences, such as the bathing one that opens the volume. The playfulness between the characters allows for some fun and funny storytelling. Fujima does a very good job of laying down the framework and executing a plot for fun and carefree adventures.

11 October 2007
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