Kimi wa Pet or Tramps Like Us is the manga equivalent of a nice bowl of soup.
It's a dramedy revolving around the relationships of Sumire, a successful reporter whose tough exterior hides many insecurities, Takeshi (Momo), a young man Sumire picks up off the street who, in return becomes her 'pet' and finally Hasumi, Sumire's first love who becomes her boyfriend after her breakup in the beginning of the story.
What makes this manga work is the chemistry between all of the characters, from the love triangles to the bitchy co-workers, to Sumire's domineering family.
As a single woman in a tough work environment, Sumire puts up a tough front and plays the perfectionist. Her co-workers are torn between fear of her blunt manner and admiration for her morals and competence. Yet, underneath she is a normal woman, often insecure about her appearance, her choices and her relationships. Sumire is one of the best written women I've ever come across in a manga. The author isn't trying to give us a super woman role-model to follow or an incompetent idiot to laugh at. Sumire is real and I love her because of it.
Takeshi is a freelance modern dancer, living a carefree, careless life. He dances because he loves to and doesn't have a thought for the future, which is what lands him on the streets on the first place. He plays the roll as Sumire's 'pet'; basically freeloading off of Sumire and doing whatever she wants in return. Though in other mangas this could take quite the perverted turn, Kimi wa Pet plays it straight. Takeshi, dubbed Momo by Sumire, gives her not merely companionship but the freedom to be herself. Their relationship, made exciting by Takeshi's attraction to Sumire and Sumire's growing realization of Takeshi as a man, is what holds the book together.
In sharp contrast to the comfortable, easy going and honest relationship between Sumire and Takeshi, is Sumire's boyfriend Hasumi. Hasumi sees Sumire as a delicate, sweet woman, and Sumire is too insecure about the relationship to ever correct him. So when she blushes because he almost catches her smoking, he thinks she's cute and she feels guilty. Their relationship is poignant and so interesting to watch unfold because they're two wonderful people who just don't seem to belong together.
Anyway, the backbone of the manga is the relationships obviously, but the plot doesn't disappoint. We go through Sumire's rises and falls in the company, her relationships and travels. We delve into her and Takeshi's past and see the relationships between all the characters change and develop along with them. At 14 volumes, it is a fairly long story but the drama is always exciting and will keep you interested. There are a few filler-like pitfalls, some for comic relief (which are hit and miss) and some which are just odd and out of place. Still, overall, the pacing is good despite the weaker points here and there.
I love the artwork, but it is a matter of taste. I love the way the creator draws her character's lips (since manga characters often go without) and the eyes are gorgeous but almost creepily huge. There are a wide variety of characters, each with a different look and build, the creator even goes so far as to show you how the woman look with and without makeup. The wardrobes are varied and expressive of each character's individuality and overall the art shows an attention to detail and a great sensitivity. It's different looking and totally suits the manga.
All in all, Kimi wa Pet is a fun, entertaining and funny manga that will leave you feeling good about yourself and others with a warm, fuzzy feeling in your tummy afterward. It's honest, intelligent and meaningful. A worthwhile read!