The story centers around Keito Aoyama, a former famous child actor. Due to a childhood incident, she retired from her career early and withdrew from normal society. Now 16, she passes her days in boredom and without purpose. But one day she runs into a stranger who takes her to El Liston—a free school for high school students like herself, who don't have a place where they belong. Though hesitant at first, Keito decides to enter El Liston and subsequently, she begins a new stage in her life. With the help of her only remaining childhood friend, Taiyou, and her new classmates Rei, Momiji, and Kouichi, Keito slowly finds the courage to open up to others and to accept their support. Will Keito return to acting? Will she find true friends? Love?
Cat Street's story starts and centers around a 16 year old girl, Keito, who used to be a famous actress when she was young but had retired early due to a traumatic incident that happened while she was in the entertainment industry. As a result, she had completely isolated herself from people and the society (school included) for 7 years and now passes her days doing absolutely nothing- lost, lonely, and without a purpose. A stray cat, so to speak.
The story, however, truly begins when she comes upon a special school called El Liston, a free school for "strays" like herself, people who don't really
belong or fit in anywhere. There, she meets Rei, Momiji, and Kouichi... and through them and other people, she learns to live, finds courage and eventually, her own direction (and of course, love too.)
Note: There shouldn't be any spoilers. Apologies, however, for the lengthy review ahead (usually not the kind I write).
Story (9.7): I'll say now, though, that while the summary is accurate, it does the story no justice (as seems to be the case with many great manga). The premise is exactly that... just a premise. It's a simple story but yet it is so much more- one that can't be conveyed but rather, must be felt by reading it yourself.
There is depth and meaning in the story, the kind that is often lacking in typical shoujo teen manga. There's love, but it's not your typical HS girl meets boy and hopes he returns her feelings kinda thing either. Rather, the best way I can describe the romance in this story is something like a journey- both in discovering oneself, the other person, and love itself. There's drama, but it doesn't drag nor is it the meaningless melodramatic kind that happens for the sake of conflict and cliffhangers. There's balance as well. Cat Street isn't all about romance, all about friendship, or all about drama... it's everything blended in at just the right amount.
I said earlier that the romance in this story is like a journey, but to be more accurate, I should say the entire series is like a journey. The timeline spans several years, from mid-teens to early 20s and utilizes time-skips towards the latter part of the story to move things forward. The pacing is great and the plot is constantly moving forward. The ending is fulfilling as well. While I wish there were more of Cat Street for me to devour, I wasn't left with the feeling that the manga needed to be longer or shorter. It all wrapped up beautifully, with a meaningful conclusion and a certain symbolism that really just fits the story, the characters, and even the title of the manga.
Character (10): Loving all the characters in a manga isn't something that often happens to me, but Kamio-sensei manages it so easily with all the personalities she has created for Cat Street. Again, I must emphasize the depth here. The heroine has true strength... the kind that comes from deep within and not the so often misunderstood strength where a heroine is depicted as strong just because she can yell, get violent, and kick some ass.
There's a theme of trying your best and not giving up, but what's great about it is the fact that the characters treat this realistically and in a less shallow way (as opposed to countless "I don't think I can stop loving him after all so I'm going to keep pestering him until he falls in love with me" sort of thing). I guess what I'm trying to say is that the characters all feel genuine and human to me. The way they handle their problems, the way their personalities grow and develop throughout the series, and how each and every character has their own distinctive personality. I'm touched by all of them in one way or another- even the so-called villains. There are no villains for the sake of being villains type of characters here at all, and that to me is a mark of good characterization.
Art (9): I'm not one for saying much about the art unless it completely blows me away with its awesomeness or there's an aspect of it that I felt I needed or wanted to mention. So I'll just say that I personally adore it. The lines are clean and the scenes are nicely-done, with simple but good detail and without it being overcrowded. For those who have read HYD, Kamio-sensei's art is similar to how it was at the end of the series... likely even better actually.
My favorite aspect of the art is how all the characters (especially the main ones) each have their own distinctive looks and style. I recognize them all right off the bat, unlike some other shoujo manga where I sometimes have trouble being sure about who's who due to the almost identical appearances.
Overall (10): What else can I say? I've thoroughly enjoyed reading Cat Street... there was never a dull moment and each development was simply heartfelt. This is a case of where the story, the characters, and everything else just comes together perfectly- the kind that makes the leap from great to a masterpiece.
Cat Street is a surprisingly deep story, easily one of the best I have ever come across. Cat Street has it's moments of humor, but what it realyl excels at is drama.
The story starts with Aoyama Keito, a lonely girl traumatized by her experience as a child actor. Years earlier she suffered from stage fright and managed to successfully ruin her career. Now she spends her days at home in a state of apathy. The manga essentially focuses on Keito's progress as she starts to interact with society again, starting with her enrollment at El Liston, a school full of students with similar backgrounds.
Cat Street is heavy reading. It's emotional and deep - not something for shallow readers. Seeing as some of its main themes are depression, unrequited love, and general angst, this is hardly surprising. But it's also about putting things behind and moving on, creating lasting friendships, and finding true love. Cat Street suffers a little at one point with a strange kidnapping, but it sorts itself out in the end.
Art - 10
Cat Street's art really stood out in all the right ways. The facial expressions of the characters (especially the eyes) portrayed so much emotion, I sometimes forget I was looking at a simple black-and-white drawing. The characters also age really well (the manga covers several years).
Characters - 10
And we have a winner. Cat Street is character development at its finest. We get to watch the four main characters grow up and confront their pasts, moving on and learning from past mistakes. None of it is forced. Kamio Yoko (the mangaka) understands people in a way that blows my mind. She develops her characters in a way most authors (of every medium) can only dream of doing.
Enjoyment - 10
Cat Street tugged at all the right emotions; the characters became real people. I could easily identify with the entire main cast. Keito's journey as a person was wonderfully written and the art was beautiful.
Overall - 10
Cat Street is an emotional ride, best read slowly. I strongly discourage marathon reading. Cat Street takes place over several years (despite being only thirty-five chapters long), and reading it too quickly will kill the effect. Cat Street is something you would want to savour anyway.
I highly recommend Cat Street to any shoujo fan looking for something that's a little more than the usual high school romantic comedy.
“Out of five emotions, when I learned the meaning of anger, everything began to crumble.”
Most of us want them, some of us need them, eventually we all feel lonely without them, Friends. Not just any friend, true friends. That’s what Cat Street was for me, an extraordinary story of friendship. This manga is proof that even if you think you’re a misfit, wounded, or no one understands you, there are still people out there who will appreciate you for who you are, no matter who that is.
In Cat Street we follow Keito, a successful young actress. All she wanted to do was
live a normal life, got to school and have friends. Living in the shadow of herself and never having time made that impossible for her. Her acting career comes to an end when her best friend betrays her and Keito completely freezes on stage. Now, seven years she is an empty shell just going through the motions of living without any real purpose. One day, she meets a man who introduces her to El Liston, a free, no strings attached., come as you please and study what you want school. This is Keito’s story, about living with your past, surviving your present while moving on towards your future, wherever that may be.
Even the summary doesn't give this manga justice. Cat Street shows the lives of kids who are like alley cats, stranded and alone, trying to find their place in this big blue ball. The characters change right before your eyes and are beautifully unique. They become individuals while still maintaining the ingredients that make them who they are. The story centers around the life of Keito and her life’s journey of forgiveness, acceptance and the one we all want, happiness. All the characters bring some lesson or heartwarming individualism to the table whether it’s Keito, Kouichi, Momiji or Rei. All so very different but yet very alike. You see them go beyond their high school years and develop into working members of society.
I won't go into individual details but there is a character for everyone: Rei, the soccer all star, who' strong attitude cost him more than he wanted to pay. Momiji, is the creative outcast who was shunned out of her school because of her enigmatic taste in designing her own clothes. Keito, is the aloof wounded one who can't live with her past. Kouichi, the silent computer programmer who cares deeply for his friends but his introvertness makes it hard to get to know him .
The art is solid. The characters looks match their personalities and it all flows together to help you fall in love with them, one character at a time. The constant mood of this manga is melancholy. There are happy moments but they seem so real that even underneath them a hint of sorrow is there, through the art we could feel those moments as if they were actually with us.
All in all, Cat Street did an amazing portraying the lessons we learn early on in life, before we even learn how to speak it’s a simple one - if you fall just get back up and try again. That’s how we learn how to walk, so simple and yet as we get older, the falls get harder and the getting up feels heavier. We meet people who change your life with their humor, smarts, love and take a piece of you when they leave. Life through the eyes of high school kids was never this sorrowful or amazing.
“Just because you’re special doesn’t mean god will give you more time. You must sacrifice something!”
The story tackles about your dreams, making your way, yourself, love & friendship etc... And I'll tell you honestly, this is the first time that the story of a manga sinks deep down in me. I was touched & moved that most of the time I need to pause my reading to wipe some tears that starting to show off.. I mean I can identify myself with the story & characters. The feeling of isolation, thinking what you really wanted in life & losing your dreams & finding it, & knowing that you are not alone.. This is one of the few plots where there
is depth. It's like saying that we are just like a stray cats that has nowhere to go unless our heart finds it.. ^^
Art was something I also look forward too. Everything was nice. Clean lines, the details was there, nice shading, general proportion & measurements of figures was ok. Its plain gorgeous. So, I can say no more on this matter..
I love all the characters even the so-called-villains. It was an unsual of me that I didn't have anyone to hate for ( a big surprise ) well, I don't consider them as that, maybe just some hindrances cuz somehow I can understand their feelings. hmm.. probably my favorite was Rei , it's all because he help Keito the most to gradually recover from her depression & he has a great love for her.. Oh, I'm not saying that Kouichi was a bad choice. Its just that I like Rei. He even help Keito & Kouichi to be together. I believe now, "Love is sacrifice".. ^^ even so, they are all lovable.. ^^
I pretty much enjoy everything in this manga, from the great plot, characters & art.. I got excited that I wanted to finish reading in one sitting ( can't do cuz of works).. & You'll have this mixed emotion & makes you think " what you really wanted in your life?" "giving up or chase after them?".. O.o.. One more good thing about this is that, it has few characters that can be easily remembered with a person like me who had a short memory haha.. XD
Overall, I must say that the concept of the manga was a masterpiece. Just like in making food, you need seasonings & ingredients in order to make a delicious one. what I'm trying to say is that, Cat Street have all the good qualities to be a great manga & will capture your heart.. Sure thing, you'll learn a lot of things from this manga. It's really a great read & worth your time.. Pick it up.. You don't regret it, promise..!! ^o^