About the book:
The tale of a man drifting through life, collecting cute, cuddly plushies and valuable life lessons along the way.
Kenny Loui is a self-proclaimed “UFO catcher,” whose life goal is to “liberate” all plushies trapped in captivity inside arcade claw machines. In his UFO-catching journey, Kenny encounters a concerned guardian spirit who tries—but fails—to keep him out of trouble, a beautiful stranger with an affinity for dart games but is always missing her mark, a wise arcade owner who never hesitates to share his sage advice, and a rival who foils Kenny’s crane game victories every chance he gets.
This collection of short stories chronicles Kenny’s experiences playing arcade UFO catchers, rescuing cute and cuddly plushies while capturing important life lessons along the way… just like Aesop’s Fables, but with a modern-day twist (and an awesome 80’s soundtrack)! Based on a true story.
This graphic novel collects all stories originally published in Life Lessons from a UFO Catcher #1-3 and features bonus content including extended scenes, an epilogue, BGM-enhanced stories, and character sketch art.
Buy the book – HERE
San Francisco Book Review – 4 stars
Life Lessons from a UFO Catcher , an autobiographical manga by Kenny Loui, was such a creative, lighthearted read. Based on Loui’s personal experiences, he bestows life lessons and wisdom that he has gleaned through a fun, colorful manga.
The story’s main character, Kenny Loui, is a self-proclaimed “UFO catcher” alongside his role as a student, teacher, hopeless romantic, and officer. As a UFO catcher, Kenny essentially goes to crane and claw machines to “rescue” as many plushies and stuffed animals as he possibly can. The manga follows him in 13 different episodes as he plays the claw machine and learns many life lessons along the way. For example, in Episode 2 titled “Always Have a Plan”, the scene is set where Kenny is playing the UFO Catcher claw machine. As he enters his money to play, he moves the joystick back and forth, attempting to maneuver the claw to win a pink cat plushie. After pressing the button, he just misses the toy. Upset, he inserts more money and tries again for his victory. The moral of this episode, summarized by Kenny contemplating his next move next to the claw machine, is to always have a plan. As he states, “Don’t just jump in without knowing what you’re going to do.” Similarly to this, the rest of the episodes continue in this fashion.
As a whole, I enjoyed the plot of all the episodes and found them to be cheerful reminders of timeless advice. But, one of the most notable things about this manga was the gorgeous illustrations done by Yamawe. Truly, she outdid herself. With manga, the artwork is such a crucial, make-or-break component of the novel, and I am happy to say she truly made this book unique! Her attention to detail, color, and precision makes this novel come to life. I loved the way she played with pigments to show shadows, light, texture, and emotion on all of the characters and the scenery.
Finally, one of the most innovative things about this Manga was the incorporation of QR codes. Throughout the story, Loui and Yamawe include scenes with a musical component. On these pages, a character asks the reader to look out for the YouTube play icon, as a QR code is included to deliver you to a music video. The character then encourages you to listen to the song as you read, for a full immersive experience. Personally, I absolutely loved how originative this was. Never before has a book asked me to incorporate another sense as part of the experience, and I loved the results! This truly made this book stand out to me for its creativity and uniqueness!
~ Reviewed By: Theresa Kadair, San Francisco Book Review
Loui collects his autobiographical Life Lessons from a UFO Catcher webtoon series into this entertaining manga following his adventures as a teacher, student, and stuffed animal liberator. Characterizing himself as a “hopeless romantic” (who’s also “unlucky in love”), Loui details his mission to free plush dolls from the local gaming store’s claw machine—“because no one should live in captivity…even cute plushies.” His quest is endearing, as are his attempts to keep his cool when the rescue efforts inevitably go south—and the local bully shows up time and again to reap the benefits of Loui’s hard work.
As admirable and relatable as his mission is, Loui’s adventure of course isn’t all fun and games. But as he hits roadblocks, his guardian spirit, Somi, offers resonant wisdom, encouraging Loui to find the principal lesson he must learn behind every obstacle. When Loui changes tactics mid-rescue, bully Killian steps in to steal his plushie, prompting Loui’s sage advice that you shouldn’t “ ‘flip flop’ in the middle of executing a plan… [or] you may end up opening the door to victory for somebody else.” That’s the start of a serious rivalry between Loui and Killian, and despite Somi’s efforts to help Loui keep his cool, he eventually loses it—and faces grave consequences afterwards.
Yamawe’s illustrations dazzle the eye while suggesting the narrative’s underlying themes, such as depicting Loui, and Killian’s, inner children, who deliver heightened emotion to some of the story’s more tense scenes. Loui sprinkles mature themes throughout as well, as when he’s momentarily distracted by the racy Gals Attack video game only to end up in an awkward position, prompting him to “stick with UFO catching!” Loui’s choice to include QR codes for a 1980s soundtrack to accompany the story is entertaining, and a fun counterpart to Somi’s moral-heavy philosophizing toward the end.
About the Author:
Kenny Loui is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Loras College in Dubuque, IA. Due to his lifelong love of comics and Japanese anime/manga, he often incorporates creative and expressive arts into his classes to enhance student learning. One of his most popular classes at Loras College, Law, Crime & Pop Culture Diplomacy combines Dr. Loui’s interest in comparative criminology and East Asian popular culture. His debut graphic novels, Life Lessons from a UFO Catcher: An Autobiographical Manga and There is No Shrimp… And Other Lies My Mother Told Me, were presented the Mom’s Choice Awards in 2023 and received praise from Kirkus Reviews, San Francisco Book Review and more.