Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I am Maru by mugumogu

Maru is a cat that is an internet sensation- a Scottish Fold cat who lives in Japan with his owner (here in the book, she is referred to a his "roommate", who keeps a blog and uploads videos to Youtube of Maru's various antics and interests- mainly relating to boxes, bags and his enjoyment of throwing himself into boxes or sliding into them from across the floor- sometimes even more than one box at once!

In this book, we get the true story of Maru, whose name means "round object", and who was partly named for his owner's first impression of him (all rounded), but also because such a name is short and easy to call. The book starts off shortly after mugumogu (his owner's online name) adopted Maru, and is illustrated in the many, many pictures that were taken of him when he was young. Some are images of him at rest (along with the story of how owning Maru changed his owner's understanding of what cats were like. The only other cat she knew loved warm places, being cuddled, and would sit in his owner's lap, while Maru loves and/or does none of those things), while others show his funny faces, and him peeping out from under a blanket, which he loves to do.

Maru also loves to be in things- boxes especially, but he also evinces an interest in being inside small trash cans, or emptying the trashcans so that he can get inside. But he never looks apologetic about it. His face always seems to say, "What?! I'm happy right where I am."

This book is written in both Japanese Kana and Kanji, and in English, which is the original Japanese translated. At the end of the book, screenshots of the famous Maru videos are displayed, as well as an explanation of what those videos show, and some more information about Maru's life. Most of the book is supposedly from Maru's POV, and has the cat "talking to" the readers, explaining what he likes or doesn't like. The rest is straight from Mugumogu's voice, and lets us in on why pet ownership is so hard in Japan (very few places allow pets, but it doesn't say that this is because of lack of space in Japan. Only the very wealthy can afford to own pets, especially dogs, who need space to be walked that industrialized Japan just doesn't have.)

For those people who have seen Maru videos on Cute Overload, or just on his Youtube channel, this book will round out their Maru knowledge and experience with plenty of fun pictures. Maru is such a big cat, so fluffy and soft-looking, that you will want to dig your hands into his fur and touch him for yourself- but you can''s just a book.

Still, anyone who loves cats or even animals in general will find this a fun and heartwarming book to read. The pictures are truly priceless, especially Maru's many faces and his dressing up (including one as "Hello Kitty" that really made me laugh). It's a piece of fluff, yes, but it's a cute and adorable piece of fluff, and you certainly can't go wrong showing off more of an adorable cat like Maru.

For those who love looking at cats, or who want a cat of their own, or even people who just want to vicariously know what owning a cat is like, this book will be a fun read. It's not too large, or too expensive, but honestly, I don't know that buying the book is really worth it- it's nice to look at, to be sure, and easy to read, but you could have a lot of the same experience looking at his pictures and videos on the web. Recommended for reading, not so much for the buying.

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