- Mangaka : Taiyo, Matsumoto
- Publisher : Viz Media (Viz Signature)
- Genre : Drama, Fantasy, Mystery
- Published : September 17, 2019
Cats of the Louvre Introduction/Summary [No Spoilers]
Cats of the Louvre doesn’t hide anything in the title as you are treated to a delightful and sometimes sorrowful story of stray cats living in the attic of the famous Paris museum. The main characters in the manga are SnowBebe, a young white cat, a tour guide named Cecile, and Marcel, an old security guard whose own sister disappeared in the Louvre 50 years earlier. You don’t have to worry about a long, open-ended tale either. The entire story is concluded in 428 pages.
The story begins when Cecile, a tour guide working in the Louvre, is showing a group of tourists the Mona Lisa. In her words, it is “…the best-known painting in the world.” She sees a small white cat in the gallery, or at least she thinks she does. She spots the small kitten several more times over the week and is starting to think she is seeing things since the idea of a cat wandering in and out of the galleries of the museum is absurd. The story of Cecile and the white cat is quickly intertwined with the life of new security guard Patrick and his mentor Marcel. Marcel, like the cats, has been connected to the Louvre for generations. We learn from Marcel, who takes care of the cats in an attic room, that they are the descendants of the cats that lived in the palace before it became a museum. We also learn that if the cats are found out by the management they would soon be trapped and removed from their home. The first arc of this story tells us about the lives of the cats and especially that of the life of SnowBebe. The small-for-his-age white cat is fascinated by the galleries and the paintings that hang there and has nearly been caught more than once, which would put the whole colony in jeopardy earning the ire of some of the older members.
The second part of the story is when it becomes more intriguing. We learn that the cats, particularly SnowBebe, can leap into the paintings. We also learn that is exactly what Marcel thinks happened 50 years ago when his sister disappeared in the museum. The mystery of the museum is slowly revealed as Cecile investigates the “voices” heard coming from the paintings and SnowBebe’s ability to disappear into them. The small kitten journeys into the paintings and eventually comes across the Marcels sister, Arrieta. He finds in her a kindred spirit, as another child who was always sick and always small for her age. The two share a near lifetime of memories in the unageing, undying world of the paintings. SnowBebe realizes that he truly wants to see life outside of the museum and its paintings and he asks the Arrieta to come with him. She refuses. The girl is still as young as she was the day she entered the painting and explains that she would rather spend every day in the paradise of the painting never growing, never getting old, never getting sick or dying.
The conclusion of the story has SnowBabe returning with a memento of Arrieta’s to give to Marcel and put his mind at ease about his sister. The white cat then leaves the neverland of the museum heading out into the glittering night of the city of lights.
1. Are You a Fan of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits?
The Cats of the Louvre has the feel of one of those sci-fi/fantasy anthology shows. You are taken on a journey into the eerie world of a museum at night. We are told early on that some people hear voices from the paintings, but nothing is immediately elaborated upon. The first encounter with a cat is one that just sits there silently staring at Cecile. If you own a cat you know how unsettling that look can be; it’s as if they see something you do not. The missing sister “trapped” in a painting makes you think something sinister is happening. You should give this story a chance if you like a slow-developing story that makes you think.
1. You Won’t Find A Lot of Action in This Story.
You won’t find any romance in this story either, between feline or human. The story’s depth comes from considering the idea of being stuck with no direction. It’s an existence like the paintings on a gallery wall; they’re stuck in the safety of their frames. The main feline character doesn’t even have a true trial to trigger his growth but is simply pushed forward by the words of Arrieta, who chose never to grow and to stay in the unchanging painting. The ending (after 400+ pages) isn’t even cathartic, it just happens.
The idea of this story is great. The story of cats living in the Louvre, hiding in the attic and playing in the paintings sounds very appealing. The overlay of a story about a brother who has been searching for his sister who may be lost in a painting is good, too. The metaphor about moving forward in life instead of being stuck in the past (a painting in a museum) is worth exploring. But mixing the three elements made for a somewhat jumbled story. Should you read it? Yes, the story is a unique tale and does have a good message about moving forward and not being stuck in the past. You also don’t have a big time commitment since it’s one manga you can read through in an afternoon.