Review: Goodnight Punpun Vol. 3

Big Comic Spirits (2007-2013)

Story/Art by Inio Asano

Summary: This is a story that tells the tale of young Punpun, a normal boy living a normal life, except with one small twist: he sees himself as an anthropomorphic bird, and he sees his family in the same way. So follow Punpun as he journeys through life complete with heartache, heartbreak, family issues and a rather peculiar connection to God. While everyone else seems normal, Punpun is rather unique.

 

Review: Depression comes in all shapes and sizes, and this volume focuses heavily on the subject. From the adolescent awakening of having to fight for the affections of the girl you love, to letting your home life effect the way you deal with everyday events, and even allowing past events in your life dictate the person you are now.

These are all themes that tone the feeling for volume 3, as the time skip begins to show exactly how two years has passed for poor Punpun and friends. This is an incredibly depressing series, with a bit of an exaggeration to it, yet it still manages to show life in a realistic fashion.

I felt it was interesting that the first few chapters dealt with side characters such as Seki and Shimizu, two of Punpun’s friends rather than the titular character himself. However I also find it heartwarming that Inio chose to do so, giving the spotlight on others is something that opens up any world more than it has already been and allows for all the character’s stories to be felt.

These are two kids from Punpun’s little circle I had already started to find interesting when we were getting inklings of their own lives in the previous volumes. Shimizu, who used to always claim he could see the God of Poo, now has retreated that fantasy in turn for a more “popular” lifestyle, and by popular I mean getting picked on but dealing with it so that he may have “friends.” And then there’s Seki, who’s family life has been seen as a little more than unstable just like Punpun’s, but where as Punpun doesn’t fully grasp the situations life throws at him, Seki is dealing with his situation by force.

Though Punpun’s circle are all still aware of each others existence, since the two years have passed they’ve all more or less gone their separate ways. Thus is life, however it is still sad to watch.

Meanwhile, Punpun is grasping with a straw at the possibility of him and Aiko getting back together, yet can’t seem to see a path in which to remove his current obstacle: Yaguchi, her boyfriend. I still think the idea of Aiko and Punpun not speaking once for 2 years over the poorly handled events from last volume is a bad one, but let’s go with it for now.

It’s easy to understand where Punpun is coming from if you don’t have a lot of confidence in yourself, he wants Aiko to be happy but he wants her to be happy with him. He wants Yaguchi, who isn’t a bad guy, to be happy, but Yaguchi is happy with Aiko. Personally I’ve experienced a few scenarios like this growing up, so it was easy for me to get into Punpun’s shoes (does he have shoes?). Hopefully Punpun will have more willpower than I ever did and try to eventually get Aiko back.

Finally this volume focuses more heavily on Punpun’s uncle, Yuuichi. After five years, he’s come to terms with his loneliness. However, when a girl enters his world and attempts to break that loneliness, it’s easy to understand why Yuuichi feels like that’s going to be hard to accept. Unfortunately, Yuuichi’s actions feel a little more heavy-handed than they should have been as he attempts to push her away.

When confronted with why he acts this way, we get a flashback as to what happened 5 years ago. It’s an interesting tale that acts as our cliffhanger for the volume in which Yuuichi becomes enthralled with a girl over half his age but she hides a deadly secret. I’m not not exactly sure where this is headed, nor am I sure exactly how realistic this sort of event could happen (I won’t reveal the secret, go read the book!), but it is a very big world and I’m left intrigued by books end.

Goodnight Punpun basically continues its trend of offering up why real life sucks so much, with little wins here and there that also makes life seem a bit more worth living. While there are some blips in this volume as far as storytelling goes, the series is still going incredibly strong and hasn’t done anything for me to go “I don’t really believe this, man.” I’m still really digging Inio’s story of growing up, and I still think everyone needs to check it out ASAP.

 

Final Score: 3.5 Little Wins out of 5

DERRICK-imageDerrick is a born and raised otaku with a love for comics, anime, manga and movies. The full list is pretty long, but that’s just the basics. Stories set in space are his bread and butter.

You can find more of his writing at IndieComix.net

@KazekunForever

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