This review will contain spoilers for the manga and anime series Do Black Cats Dream of Wolf Princes?. While the manga may vary slightly from all other forms of media, it may have similar story elements and could be considered spoilers.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to sex work (porn industry), prejudice, drugging, attempted rape, sexual harassment, slut-shaming, bullying, violence, and manipulation, as it appears in the manga.
The world is split into canines and felines. Within each group are multiple species, such as wolves and dogs in the canines and tigers and cats in the felines. Aoi is a common housecat, so he's not all that rare or in demand. That's fine with Aoi, though. He's not looking for just any partner. He wants the best. Aoi, since he was a child, has dreamed of meeting his prince charming. While he looked for those partners in storybooks as a child, as an adult, his attention has been drawn to something a little less wholesome: porn. Particularly porn with the prolific porn actor and wolf Yukio. Yukio is his dream prince, and he's determined to meet him, and his first step in doing so is joining the porn industry as an assistant director.
Unfortunately, the world isn't all that kind to felines, seeing them as sexual objects more than people. On the set of a porn shoot, the feline that was supposed to come in cannot make it. Due to scheduling conflicts, the canine actor must also leave, meaning the studio and the staff are all needlessly being paid for. Desperate, the director that day decides to try and force Aoi into the role despite him being adamant that he's not interested. As he's about to be drugged with catnip and potentially raped by the staff, Yukio, the wolf prince, comes in to save the day.
Much more willing, now that he's finally met his prince, Aoi gives over his first time to none other than Yukio, which is a dream come true. After it's all said and done, though, Yukio turns out to be anything but a prince. Instead, he's cold and rude and makes it clear that he isn't interested in the least. Aoi is heartbroken and begins to question if there even is such a thing as a prince charming. But Aoi isn't one to give up so easily. He's determined to find prince charming, whether with the fake wolf prince or someone else.
Usually, I would start with the art style, but I actually really want to discuss the title. The title is a play on the science fiction novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? It might surprise you that I read things that aren't manga, manhwa, BL, or romance, but I do, and this is one of my favorite sci-fi stories. So what does the inspiration for Blade Runner have to do with a BL manga about beastmen? More than you might expect. The main character Deckard lives in a dystopian world where animals are almost entirely extinct, and it's a status symbol to own an animal. Deckard's sheep dies, and he replaces it with a mechanical one. Along with electric animals, there are androids, which calls into question the difference between organic and manufactured. Are they all that different if you don't know if one is real or not?
One of the main issues in Do Black Cats Dream of Wolf Princes? is Yukio's distrust of everyone's motives with him because he is a wolf. Wolves are at the top of the food chain on the canine side, bringing a level of respect and envy. Yukio learned early on that people will appeal to him just because he is a wolf, and it doesn't matter who he really is. The connection between Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and this story comes in when the coyote actor, advertised as a wolf, comes into play. The coyote says the only reason coyotes are popular is because they can fill the role that wolves do without actually being wolves. So it's this whole question of whether or not something is real if you don't know any better. Is the coyote any less of a wolf if he's seen as such? More importantly, though, similar to how Deckard places the same level of importance on his electric sheep as he did his real sheep, is Yukio's worth solely based on him being a wolf? Is that why Aoi loves him? Or would he love him regardless of his true species? It's not a perfect link between the two, but I think it's a fun reference that I really wanted to explore since I love Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.
Now, after all of that, let's talk about the art. It is super cute and very consistent. I love it. It's your standard pretty manga art, and I love it. Yukio is hot, Aoi is precious, and everyone else is just as attractive. I'm a massive fan of a light-haired top which we have with Yukio. I'm not a huge fan of animal ears. They're pretty common, and there are plenty of manga series out there that I enjoy that have them (Beast's Storm and Saving My Favorite For Last come to mind). They just don't tend to be my favorite, but this is as cute as all the others I've read thus far. I won't say no to a BL just because of some cat and wolf ears.
One of the best parts of this little manga is the onus being placed on Yukio. I feel like Aoi's typical course of action after being rejected would be to do everything he can to prove to Yukio that he genuinely loves him. However, Aoi's initial reaction is to throw everything about Yukio away and move on. I love that for Aoi, and that does more to prove to Yukio that Aoi's love has nothing to do with him being a wolf than Aoi actually fawning over him. It keeps Aoi's sense of self intact while also encouraging character growth for Yukio, which I love.
I was also thrilled that we got some pretty deep background on Yukio and why he is so distrustful and cruel. It doesn't forgive how he treats Aoi, but it was illuminating. So often, with shorter work, the background we get is minimal. I was pretty impressed with the amount we were able to see in this for the length of it. Yukio's need to be independent is totally understandable, with his whole life predicated on his family being wolves. He doesn't want to rely on his pedigree, as kids bullied him and befriended him either because they were envious of him or because they wanted to be afforded the benefits one might get by being close to a wolf family. I can understand why Yukio would be hesitant to form meaningful relationships because he's never sure what intentions the other person has. It's a painful reality.
This is a really cute one. It isn't one that I would put in my favorites, but I definitely like it. It's cute and smutty, with enough backstory and character development to make the narrative worthwhile alongside the smut. The art and story are solid, and the characters are fun. Overall this is a good one and worth perusing when you get the chance.
Have you read Do Black Cats Dream of Wolf Princes?? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!