One cold, dreary afternoon, a rain-soaked cat is invited home by a mischievous young mouse and a big-brotherly dog. Their green-roofed house is difficult to find, they say, “At the end of the path of blue and red bricks,” where a young man named No-Ah soon discovers that his pair of house pets has become a trio. This sweet, simple scenario serves as a short prologue to the first chapter of One Fine Day, perfectly establishing the series’ whimsical tone and showcasing its greatest strengths from the get-go. As the volume continues, No-Ah, along with cat (Guru), dog (Nanai), and mouse (Rang) tackle life’s daily challenges, such as picnics, baking cookies, and the common cold.
Make no mistake, One Fine Day is a mess. From uneven world-building to a complete absence of plot, it lacks nearly everything required for coherent storytelling, even on the most basic level. Fortunately, it is an utterly delectable mess, poised to enchant would-be critics with the power of children, puppies, and frolicking teapots.
Much of the cast is made up of animals who resemble humans (like Guru, Nanai, and Rang) or people who resemble animals, such as No-Ah’s bird-like friends, Mr. and Mrs. Raspberry. A few are furniture. In fact, the only decidedly human characters of any consequence are No-Ah and a much-feared magician, Aileru (whose relationship with No-Ah is complicated to say the least). Like many aspects of One Fine Day, its anthropomorphic landscape is only marginally explained, which diminishes its effectiveness, if not its charm.
The series’ supernatural elements are no less confusing. No-Ah is either a “novice magician or a “monster magician” (depending on when you ask) who, by the author’s own admission, “gets younger every chapter.” His magical abilities (largely undefined) are in some way related to the infamous Aileru, No-Ah’s childhood friend/bully/other, who is able to do things like turn people into animals and even summon fairies under the right circumstances. Beyond that, the universe’s supernatural ground rules are anyone’s guess.
Not that any of this matters in the slightest. The story’s real magic is in its most ordinary events, as seen through the eyes of its four-legged protagonists. Everything their father-figure does is magical from their perspective, and this “magic” is is a product of unabashed love. While the anthropomorphic appearances of Guru, Nanai, and Rang are undeniably adorable, the real purpose of their portrayal as human children seems to be that No-Ah views them as such. One of the series’ sweetest moments, for instance, is an early chapter in which No-ah teaches his “children” how to bake cookies. While No-Ah’s back is turned, both Rang and Guru mark the dough with their footprints (in blatant disregard of accepted kitchen hygiene). Though Nanai is desperate to join in, canine duty prevails, leaving him with nothing to do but whimper pathetically at the untouched dough before him. Recognizing Nanai’s predicament, No-Ah’s response is to place Nanai’s paws in the dough himself. It’s a small thing, as is nearly everything that happens in this story, but it is exactly this kind of playful affection that makes up the heart of One Fine Day.
Perhaps the series’ most consistently delightful aspect, however, is its artwork. Alternating between crude sketches and elaborate fancies, Sirial’s drawings overflow with warmth and whimsy, matching the story’s tone perfectly. From No-Ah’s comically unmanageable hair to Rang’s footie pajamas, everything that could be labeled as “cute” is also an essential tool for expression, contradicting the series’ haphazard feel.
At its best, One Fine Day is a trippy little stroll through the lives of its mostly-anthropomorphic family and friends. At worst, it is a jumble of incoherent anecdotes that somehow manages to be both visually appealing and intensely heartwarming even in its clumsiest moments. Either way, it’s a bit irresistible.
Review copy provided by the publisher.