Stray Cat & Wolf Volume 1 Tries To Build Love Between a Man And Girl

Stray Cat & Wolf Volume 1 cover of Mishina with Rou behind her biting her shirt.

Stray Cat & Wolf Volume 1 has comedy wrapped in feline moments. It’s another story of a grown man taking in a girl in school. Though popular, the ick factor in Stray Cat & Wolf Volume 1 builds with each page. Whatever rationale the series tries to employ is inconsequential. At the end of the day, it’s a man creeping on a girl. So, endearing moments become grooming in nature. 

Created by Mitsubachi Miyuki, translated by Alethea and Athena Nibley, and lettered by Rachel J. Pierce, the story begins with Tamaki Mishina waking up in a random apartment. The Yen Press manga introduces her savior under duress, a young man named Rou. He and his partner found her passed out from heatstroke. So they, or more accurately, Rou’s partner Seri, brought Mishina home. Hence, the beginnings of comparisons of Mishina to a stray cat. 

Stray Cat & Wolf Volume 1 Is Comedic If Common Mean Guy With a Heart of Gold

Mishina’s character is less common than Rou’s. He’s the guitarist in a band, struggling to have people acknowledge his talents. Most fans are into his looks more than his skill. But despite his “it’s hard being attractive” claims, he takes full advantage of his looks. He flits from woman to woman with little qualm. That includes Seri. But they also show his caring side, though, given the direction the manga takes, this is debatable. 

Although he complains about Mishina’s presence, he does let her stay because she has nowhere to go. Their verbal sparring over surprising problems is funny. Given Mishina’s background, she cannot stand loud noise. So, at first, Rou’s music sounds awful to her. How Miyuki draws them emphasizes her feline tendencies and Rou’s fang-like wolfiness. These comedy moments are easy to enjoy on their own. However, taken with the rest of the story, Mishina and Rou’s relationship gives these moments a more predatory quality.

She Is a Young Girl, and He’s a Grown Man

Given the information about Mishina in high school puts her at around 14 or 15 years old. Rou is an adult, living independently, working, and playing in a band. Their relationship crosses the line when he flirts with and even kisses her. Stray Cat & Wolf Volume 1 portrays her as a girl who’s wise beyond her years but clueless about boys and men. 

Stray Cat & Wolf Volume 1 cover of Mishina with Rou behind her biting her shirt.
Stray Cat & Wolf Volume 1 cover. Yen Press.

So, the heroic man swoops in to rescue the girl from the world and herself. The rationale for normalizing a man pursuing a kid needs to end. It ruined one of my favorite series that wound up grosser than this because he raised his victim as a child. All the stories that make it seem either a kid is some femme fatale seducing the man or so adult-like that they can be in an adult relationship give off Humbert, Humbert vibes. 

By the end of the volume, a bandmate of Rou’s notices that something is off with Rou and Mishina’s relationship. Hopefully, they put an end to this nonsense. Not to mention, given the fact that no one where Mishina lived showed her any kindness or attention. As such, taking advantage of a kid desperate for connection adds another layer of disgust. 

Premise Makes This Story a Pass

Stray Cat & Wolf Volume 1 might have laughable scenes. Unfortunately, that does nothing to obscure the predator and grooming aspects of the story. It doesn’t matter if Rou’s attractive or if Mishina might like him. As he is an adult, it’s his responsibility to keep their relationship as friends or caretaker and their charge. As the world opens up and Mishina experiences high school, the story may head elsewhere. But it’s stomach-turning how too many stories normalize this. Stray Cat & Wolf Volume 1 is disappointing as it takes one of the most common and toxic tales of a man hooking up with a girl. 

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