Originally published in The Star in 2009
I LOVE cats, but even if you’re not partial to flesh-blood-and-fur felines, you may find it hard to resist the charms of Dayan.
He is the creation of Japanese author/illustrator Akiko Ikeda and is the main character in four books translated and published by Dark Horse (best known as a publisher of comics). If you look at Ikeda’s website (www.wachifield.com) it seems that there are more books, including picture books and novels, featuring the cat and his friends. However, they’re in Japanese. The four titles thus far available in English are a little larger than Ladybird books, with the same hard covers, and fully-illustrated with the most charming and interesting watercolours.
Dayan has grey and red-gold stripes, a white stomach and four white feet. He has huge slanted amber eyes – and in fact, Ikeda’s characters are all notable for their large lustrous eyes.
Dayan lives in Wachifield, an imaginary world dominated by woodland and streams, and populated by the usual forest creatures like rabbits, frogs, foxes, otters and squirrels. There is an alligator though – his rather incongruous presence isn’t explained, and that’s one of the things I like about the way Ikeda writes. She doesn’t overtell the story – there’s no exposition at all, and characters and events appear in the books without introduction, but as if Ikeda is telling stories of creatures the reader already knows well. If you want every detail provided for you, then you may not like Ikeda’s style, but I find it very fresh and light. The reader is free to be a co-creator with Ikeda – he may suppose and imagine whatever he wishes when contemplating the world of Wachifield.