Cat Eyed Boy (Japanese: 猫目小僧, Hepburn: Nekome Kozō) is a Japanese shōnen manga series written and illustrated by Kazuo Umezu. The story is narrated by the titular cat-eyed boy, hated by both humans and demons, who gets involved in tales of horror including monsters and children. The manga was initially serialized in 1967 in Shōnen Gahōsha's manga magazine Shōnen Gaho and eventually two other magazines, and has been compiled and published several times in different formats. In 2008, Viz Media licensed and released the manga in North America in two omnibus volumes. The manga has also been adapted into an anime series in 1976 and a live-action film in 2006. The manga has been noted for Umezu's grotesque style of Japanese horror storytelling and art. Response to the design of the Viz edition has also been positive.
The manga was first serialized in Shōnen Gahōsha manga magazine Shōnen Gaho in December 1967 until May 1968 for the stories "The Immortal Man" and "The Ugly Demon". Five more stories until "The Thousand-Handed Demon" were serialized in Shōnen Gahōsha's Shōnen King until 1969. The series was continued in Shogakukan's Weekly Shōnen Sunday for four more stories in 1976.
The chapters of the manga were first compiled together by Shōnen Gahōsha into 3 volumes starting in 1969. After that, Shogakukan published the manga in 1976 under its imprint Shonen Sunday Comics as 5 volumes. The third publisher, Asahi Sonorama, published the manga in 1982 under its Sun Comics imprint as 5 volumes also. Asahi Sonorama then republished the manga in 1986 as 3 wide-ban volumes under its Sun Wide Comics imprint. Shogakukan republished the manga in 1991. Because of the release of the 2006 film adaption of the manga, Shogakukan republished the manga as 2 large volumes on June 16, 2006.
In January 2008, Viz Media listed 2 volumes of the manga on the online retailer Amazon.com with page counts corresponding to the 2006 Shogakukan 2-volume edition. The 2 volumes were subsequently released in June 2008 under its Viz Signature imprint. The design of the manga as well as its size in dimensions and length have been complimented by reviewers. Veronica Casson, the designer for the Viz edition of the manga, noted that unlike many of her previous titles, she was given freedom to design the book without adhering to the original Japanese version. In an interview with Alvin Lu, the Vice President of Viz Media, Lu stated that Viz focused on presenting the content of the book as much as possible which influenced the decision to release omnibus editions as well as the cover design.
In 1976, the manga was adapted into an anime series called Youkaiden Nekome Kozō (妖怪伝 猫目小僧?, "Ghost Story: Cat Eyed Boy"). The anime was produced by Wako Productions and TV Tokyo. The series contained 22 episodes of 15 minutes each.
In 2006, Noboru Iguchi directed a live-action film adaption of the anime. The movie, with gravure idol Miku Ishida, Asami Kumakiri, Hiromasa Taguchi, Naoto Takenaka and Kanji Tsuda, was released theatrically in Japan in June 2006, and on DVD in October of the same year.
Response to the manga has been positive overall, with critics applauding Umezu's grotesque style of horror, but also recognizing its similarities to low-budget horror of the past. Critics have likened the manga to pulp horror and to the television series Tales from the Crypt, but also acknowledged its divergences such as the focus on the narrator himself. The art has been complimented for creating a dark atmosphere, as well as for Umezu's imaginative monsters. Critics have also noted that the manga will likely be more appealing to audiences interested in manga classics rather than modern horror fans. Opinions on the effectiveness of the short and long stories has been mixed.
Carlo Santos of Anime News Network criticized the similarities of the stories to B-horror movies as well as the weakness of the shorter monster-based stories, but commended Umezu's ability to "create a chilling portrait of the human soul". Shaenon K. Garrity of Anime News Network enjoyed the range of monsters Umezu created and commended the longer stories. Otaku USA's Joseph Luster highly recommended it while calling it an "impeccable classic" based on Umezu's thoughtful storytelling and the horror elements. Greg McElhatton of Comic Book Resources liked how the manga broke from its horror anthology mold by involving the protagonist and deviating from the traditional sense of justice for the good. Connie C. of Comic Book Resources praised Umezu's ability to set a horror mood as well as his art, but felt mixed about his bizarre ideas which she thought were better suited to his shorter stories. Ain't It Cool News categorized the manga as an example of Japanese horror and called it "a chilling concoction of dark vignettes with the macabre, the grotesque and the absurd", despite Umezu's weaker storytelling at the beginning. Manga Bookshelf interpreted Umezu's goal with the manga as wanting to create a hallucinatory atmosphere devoid of logic and enjoyed the origin story of the cat eyed boy, while criticizing the story "The Band of One Hundred Monsters". IGN remarked that the humor in the manga set it apart from Umezu's more serious works such as The Drifting Classroom and that the longer stories were harder to read through. Comics Village also categorized the manga as Japanese horror and noted that the Viz release will appeal more to collectors. It also acknowledged the dated style of the artwork, but said that the story has "timeless qualities". Describing the type of horror in Cat Eyed Boy, Graphic Novel Reporter called it strange and creepy "...in the sense that the pictures are more likely to momentarily unsettle your stomach than keep you up at night." It also complimented Umezu's imagery. ComicBooksBin enjoyed Umezu's approach to horror where he eschews logic, contrasting it with American horror. It also described his works as "...a gathering of grotesqueries and absurdities that almost defy imagination."
The Viz release of the manga was nominated for the 2009 Eisner Award in the category "Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Japan". In a 2008 reader poll of seinen manga by About.com, Cat Eyed Boy won 8th place.