#1 A Lovecraftian Cat
Coco is a young girl who lives in a lavish mansion out in the countryside. Her parents are mysteriously absent, leaving her and her black cat Kuro as the sole residents of the estate. However, Kuro one day escaped from the garden, and Coco can’t quite shake the feeling that he’s been a little different ever since.
For the readers it’s plainly obvious that Kuro isn’t a normal cat, at least not anymore. His mouth is a circular hole with teeth all-around, eyes pop up all around his body, he conjures forth tentacles, and changes shape on a whim. Despite these… supernatural qualities, Kuro still adores Coco and retains the dopey playfulness of an everyday cat. Many chapters of this manga are all about the fun antics the two of them get up to throughout their day-to-day lives together.
It’s cosmic horror with a touch of cuteness, which works surprisingly well. Coco is of course adorable and quickly captures the readers’ hearts, but Kuro isn’t far behind either. Even if you can’t be sure of his true intentions, you can’t help but grow fond of the little monster. Maybe he’s a benevolent Lovecraftian abomination?
#2 An ever-present sense of dread
While I jokingly call the setting “cosmic horror” because of Kuro, the truth is not actually far off. This manga is very much a horror mystery, as the world around Coco’s house is infested with strange, man-eating creatures and parasites that infect dead animals. The world is dangerous and inhospitable, yet Coco is seemingly oblivious to this danger.
The question of how Coco has been able to ignore this danger is one of several intriguing mysteries that develops slowly throughout Kuro, but the threat is constantly present, even if she doesn’t realize it. Coco is also the topic of much discussion and gossip among the townsfolk. It’s evident that people don’t trust her, claiming she is strange, creepy, or possibly even in cahoots with the monsters. As frustrations and fear begin to build up within the community, it’s very possible they might turn their ire towards Coco and Kuro. Then again… can Kuro himself even be truly trusted.
The manga suckers you in with the premise of a monstrous kitty and its adorable owner, but leaves you constantly wondering if their happy days together might be numbered. I was absolutely rooting for them to work things out somehow, but their situation seems to become more dire the longer the manga goes on.
#3 Short, full-color chapters
While boasting more than 200 chapters, each of these is actually only a single page long, barring the bonus chapters that provide background details or fantastical side-stories. This makes Kuro a story that you work through very quickly, though never at the cost of good pacing and mystery.
Another way in which Kuro surprises is with its extravagant, full-color art. Soumatou’s character designs and detailed backgrounds are already great, but getting to see them brought to life with these rich colors was absolutely amazing.