How do you make cat soup?
Well according to Chiyomi Hashiguchi’s 1990 debut comic, it might have something to do with a botched neutering and one dead kitten. The work of Hashiguchi, more commonly known by her pen name Nekojiru (lit. Cat Soup), is just about as dark as it sounds. In her comics, Nekojiru mixes the macabre with the strangely cute and crude to create stories filled with both the harsh realities of modern-day Japan and strange situations only possible between the pages of a comic book. Consider it an alternate Japan where anthropomorphic cat, pig, and dog people live and work alongside us regular humans (and are sometimes eaten by us).
Not much is Known about Chiyomi Hashiguchi
Chiyomi Hashiguchi was born on January 1st, 1967 and died on May 10th, 1998. She was a fairly private person, and as a result, not much is known about her life besides what has been published in her autobiographical works, Jirujiru Nikki and Jirujiru Ryokōki. Besides her autobiographical works, the majority of Nekojiru’s comics follow the adventures of two cat siblings, older sister Nyāko and younger brother Nyatta as they go about daily life causing general mayhem, chaos, and of course, wanton violence. These stories, originally published under the separate titles Nekojiru Udon, Nekojiru Manjū, Nekojiru Shokudō, Nekojiru Senbei, and Nekojiru Dango, have now been compiled posthumously into three larger anthologies by her husband, Hajime Yamano. In addition to the titles listed above, she also made two stand alone books surrounding a pair of orphaned cat brothers called Nekogamisama 1 and Nekogamisama 2. She originally published her work in the alternative manga anthology magazine Garo, until she started working with a publisher and published the works under the titles listed above.
Her husband, under the pen name Nekojiru-y, continues to use her characters to write new comics in a similar style to her original works. There has also been a short animated series adaptation of her comics that debuted on Japanese TV in 1999 under the name Nekojiru Gekijō, as well as an OVA adaptation of her work, spearheaded by Yamano, which was released in English as Cat Soup. While Nekojiru Gekijō basically stuck to the source material 100%, I would take Cat Soup as more of an interpretation of Nekojiru’s work through the creative lens of her husband, not for better or worse, simply different.
How to find Nekojiru
So for readers who would like to dive into Nekojiru’s cruel, zany, and macabrely cute cat people eat pig people world, I encourage starting with the subtitled Nekojiru Gekijō episodes that have been uploaded to Youtube. There are many unofficial fan translations online for readers who would prefer the original illustrations. Plus, on top of all that, for readers who can read Japanese, Nekojiru’s work is available at many of the Mandarake stores across Japan, as well as in the recently republished anthologies.
Photo Credit: A special 1992-06 issue of Garo