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Book Review: 『おはなし・ねこあつめ』by Haruka SHIOTSUKI

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Title: 『おはなし・ねこあつめ』
Author: Haruka SHIOTSUKI (汐月遥)
Published by 集英社みらい文庫

This book of 196 pages contains 8 short stories featuring the cats and universe of the mobile game Neko Atsume by Hit-Point.

The book has full furigana and is written for children (小学中級から). Every other spread contains some coloured, super cute illustrations. The stories can be read independently from one another and it is not necessary to play the game to understand them.

Setting

The game Neko Atsume is a mobile game on iOS and Android where the player can put cat food and cat toys in his house and yard and wait for cats to come and play around. The idea is that you don’t own the cats and don’t have control over who comes or when, they are free to come and go as they please. You can take pictures of them and collect them in an album.

The stories in 『おはなし・ねこあつめ』features some of the numerous cats who appear in the game, keeping their name and personality. They play in the yard, meet friends or go for a little adventures in the surroundings.

Review: Super cute, easy to read!

For children (but still interesting)

First of all, these stories are written for young children, and you should not except too much from the plot. I read on Amazon several reviews saying that adults can enjoy the stories too. Personally, I would not go as far as saying that adults can read and enjoy this book, it depends on what kind of adult you are, I guess. Let’s say that if you like Neko Atsume or if you like stories featuring cute cats doing cute things, you will like this book (I did).

The stories are very nice stories for children. They talk about friendship, discoveries and adventure. When I read this book, I was in the mode “ok, I’m an adult reading stories for children because I’m learning Japanese”, but I must also admit that I found some stories very touching and interesting (the 6th one in particular is my favourite).

The author really managed to create new stories while keeping the atmosphere of the game. The owner of the yard (who is also the player and the reader) is sometimes mentioned but never appears in the stories. While you don’t need to know or play the game to read the book, the two go along well.

Easy to read

This book is very easy to read, which is not the case of all the books for children (I personally often find books for children rather difficult to read!).

First of all, it has full furigana so you can easily look up unknown words. Some kanji words are written in hiragana instead so if you are struggling with kanji, you will find this book easier to read. To me, it was, on the contrary, a good exercise that forced me to read a lot of hiragana and not rely on kanji.

Of course, books for children can feature grammar and vocabulary that learners only study later, but to me, this book was surprisingly fitting the level of intermediate students. At times, it almost felt as if the book was written for Japanese learners instead than Japanese children.

Some descriptive parts can be more difficult to read, but I think that this book can be a good choice if you want to start reading in Japanese but don’t feel like tackling a whole novel for adults.

As for me, I have read this book at a time when reading in Japanese had become less enjoyable to me. I guess that the other novel I am reading at the moment is a little challenging, and I have spent several days without opening it. Reading『おはなし・ねこあつめ』felt like a breath of fresh air, and remotivated me to read in Japanese!

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