During Aklat Awards 2017, Ice Habunal won as the Most Favorite Writer and Black Cat is the comic book she created that also won the Most Favorite Comic Book category. Having these knowledge sets my expectation before reading Black Cat.
The heroine named Catherine was labelled as the black cat for her misfortune. The story became more interesting when she met Remlas en Cantas, a real black cat that can turn himself into a human. For a cat person, this is like your dream put into pages. Some say, women who do not have a boyfriend marry their cats. So reading this manga is like tolerating your fantasies to be with your adorable cat and wishing it can turn itself into a handsome boy.
In my opinion, I think Black Cat can pass as an archetype of the Japanese manga Kamisama Hajimemashita because of two points. The first one is, mythology and cultural beliefs are present in the story. If Japanese believed in the keeper of the shrine and spiritual practices, in the Philippines, where Ice Habunal came from, there’s a belief of small creature called duwende. They have the ability to bring good fortune or bad fate to people. The second point is the noticeable similarities of the power of the male lead characters. This fact is actually the first thing that reminds me of Kamisama Hajiimemashita. Black Cat has Remlas while Kamisama Hajimemashita has Tomoe which both can turn themselves into an animal. Regarding the characters, it should be noted that despite their similar physical form, their personality are different which means that their approach in the story is dissimilar.
About the concept, I admire Black Cat for incorporating mythology in the story because it gives some sort of originality that it is indeed made by a Filipino to present the Philippine culture. This might bore some, but if you have observed, many manga readers admire Japan because they see the beauty of Japanese culture through their manga. So if we do the same, by using this kind of concept to Filipino made manga, it will or can also capture the attention of the Filipino and foreign readers and they will discover more of the Philippines.
The mixture of fantasy, comedy, and romance genre along with the excellent illustration pushed the Black Cat to deserve an award. The book has it all—great story line and nicely drawn characters. It is just sad because it came out as a single story. I think it will be great if it will be written as a series with the integration of more characters and mythology. However, I can say that Black Cat really stood out. It can diverge itself when mixed with local and foreign manga because of its uniqueness. No doubt it is a winner.
Written and Illustrated by Ice Habunal
Naniniwala ka ba sa malas? Naaalala mo pa ba ang huling beses na umiwas ka sa itim na pusa?
Si Cat ay kilala bilang ang pinakamalas na tao sa lugar nila. At dahil dito ay tinagurian siyang “Black Cat.”
Lahat ng paraan ay ginawa na niya para mawala ang kanyang kamalasan, pero sa huli ay nabigo pa rin siya. Nawalan na ng pag-asa si Cat at naisipan niyang sumuko na lang hanggang sa nakilala niya si Remlas.
She was not an art student but Ice knew how to draw some manga illustrations. And it only started as her hobby. Her first illustrated work was Ang Babae sa Waiting Shed (published under SHORTCUTS) followed by a 60 pages project entitled Samantha, The Simple Fashionista. Ice is currently working outside the Philippines while doing some projects for Black Ink. When asked who inspired her to draw here’s what she says…
The artist who inspired me to draw was Yuu Watase. I’ve always loved Fushigi Yuugi, especially Ayashi No Ceres and that’s when I started copying her works. That was also when I started making my own comics in hopes that one day, I could be as good as her. At present, my biggest inspiration is Kagerou Usuba because her artworks are just so beautiful. Unfortunately, my manga collections are few since mahal ang mga ito. Iyong mga nabibili ko lang mostly ay iyong mga nasa Booksale. He-he.
Most of the mangas I read are shoujo pero nagbabasa din naman ako ng mga shounen mangas like Naruto and Tokyo Ghoul, pero mostly shoujos talaga. Iyong mga inaabangan kong titles ay Last Game at Fukumenkei Noise. May iba pa actually kaso nakakalimutan ko ang titles. Hu-hu. Recently, I was addicted with the shounen manhwa, Noblesse. Ang ganda kasi ng drawing style plus the story is very engaging and funny!
Samantha, The Simple Fashionista
Written by Claudine Erang
Illustrated by Ice Habunal
Code: BIC0108 Genre: Slice of Life / Romance Language: Tagalog Price: P99.75 Pages: 64 Paper: Bulky Released Date: September 2015 Size: 6 x 9 inches Status: Complete Type: Comics / Manga
Printed at the Back of the Book:
Alonzo likes Karen while Karen likes Zachary. Cool daw kasi ito. Kaya nagdesisyon si Alon na higitan ang “coolness” ni Zach. Pero mukhang mali ang ginawa ni Alon dahil imbes na magustuhan siya ni Karen ay lalo siya nitong inayawan. Ang malala pa, tinawag siya ni Karen na baduy at trying hard sa harap ng ibang mga estudyante.
Para makalimot sa heartache ay isinama si Alon ng mga kaibigan niya upang manood ng Transformation Day ng Lavinia’s Beauty Salon. Doon ay nakita niya ang schoolmate niyang si Samantha na kilala dahil sa pagiging fashionista. Nang tawagin siya ni Sam sa stage ay saka lang na-realize ni Alon na na-set up siya. Siya pala ang gagawan ng transformation!
Summary of the Story:
Alon, a nerd-looking student, confesses his feelings to his schoolmate, Karen. Karen rejects him because she likes Zachary, a cool, young hairstylist working in Lavinia’s Beauty Salon. This does not make him quit. He imitates Zach’s style but still gets rejected by Karen and is humiliated in front of other people. This is witnessed by Samantha, their school’s fashionista and one of the stylists in Lavinia’s.
Alon is set up to join a makeover event sponsored by Lavinia’s Beauty Salon. He undergoes a total turnaround, not only in his looks but also in his life. Karen has a change of heart for Alon, but he has already forgotten his feelings for her because Alon has started to like Samantha.
Despite some confusion between Alon and Samantha, because of their belief that the other has already fallen for someone else, all becomes well as their friends set the circumstances right for them. Alon and Samantha are enlightened by the fact that they had fallen in love with each other. And that love is like shopping clothes. It should not be rushed and should be thought of carefully before finally making a decision.
Title: SHORTCUTS – VOLUME 19 – Hindi Nakasanayang Ghost Story / Ang Babae sa Waiting Shed / I’m Dating a Seminarista Code: BIC0099 Genres: Romance / Slice of Life / Anthology Price: P99.75 Pages: 64 (20 pages each story) Paper: bulky Size: 6 x 9 inches Type: 3-in-1 Comics Language: Tagalog / Taglish (mix of Tagalog and English)
Hindi Nakasanayang Ghost Story
Written by Juss Eldrin Mergas
Illustrated by Joll Mark Manabat
“Kahit na mag-transform ka pa… Ikaw pa rin ang aking beautiful entity.”
Ang Babae sa Waiting Shed
Written by Aki Belong
Illustrated by Ice Habunal
“Sino kaya siya? Gabi na… Bakit nandito pa siyang mag-isa? T-teka… Paano kung isa siyang…”
I’m Dating A Seminarista
Written by Tin Sabandal
Illustrated by Jillopy
“Seminarista ako. Hindi ka dapat ma-in love sa ‘kin. Mali ito…”